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Can I Start Using My Post 9/11 GI Bill in the Middle of a Semester?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: May I apply to start using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in the middle of a semester? My semester starts tomorrow and I have already paid for tuition and books. May I “activate” my GI Bill now to begin receiving the BAH, or is it too late since the semester will have already started.

A: It is “cleaner” if you start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the beginning of a semester. Also, just so you know, it can take 8 to 10 weeks for your get your GI Bill application approved, so you probably wouldn’t draw much for benefits this semester anyway.

My concern is you saying “to begin receiving the BAH”. If that is all you are going to get by using your GI Bill entitlement, I have to question whether it is a good use of benefits. I would rather see you wait and get the “full” benefit by starting at the beginning of a semester. That way, your GI Bill benefit will pay for tuition and fees (directly to your school) and you get a monthly housing allowance and up to $1,000 per year book stipend.

You can go back up to one year and submit a claim for benefits, which you could do if you start drawing benefits mid-term. Then the VA would send you a reimbursement for tuition and fees you paid and $41.67 per credit for books. Like I said it is cleaner to do the other way. Because this is not the “standard” way of doing it, it also may take a long time to get your money back.

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