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Can I Use My GI Bill After a One Year Wait to Establish Maryland Residency?

Q: Hi, I’m planning to use the GI Bill when I get out (in 4 months). I’d like to start using it in TN (my state of residence), but am planning on getting married and moving to MD where I’ll have to wait a year to claim residency for in-state tuition. Can I use the GI Bill with this kind of sabbatical? Thanks, Anna.

A: You certainly can Anna! Depending on which GI Bill you have, you either have a 10-year or 15-year expiration date from your date of discharge, so you can start using your GI Bill anytime. Just be sure you finish before your benefits expire.

If you have the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), I understand your concern about the in-state/out-state tuition differences. The MGIB pays $1,564 per month and you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc, so it would most likely cost you money out of your pocket.

But if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, or you can switch to it from the Montgomery GI Bill, then the outcome can be favorable even if you have to pay out-state tuition. The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill works is the VA pays your tuition up to the resident undergraduate rate to your public school. It would pay up to $18,077.50 per year if you attend a private school.

If that school happens to be in the Yellow Ribbon Program, then they can pay up to 50% of the difference between what they charge and what your GI Bill pays. The VA pays an equal amount, so in theory, all your tuition would be paid. But if your school agreed to pay a lesser percentage in their agreement with the VA, then you would have some out-of-pocket costs, but they would be minimal.

Also, a change concerning tuition is in the air. Congress right now is considering legislation where schools would charge servicemembers and veterans the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency, so it might end up being a moot point anyway if that legislation is passed. If passed, schools would be forced to abide by the new policy if they accept GI Bill students.

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