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Can I Use My GI Bill to Pay Off Student Loans?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have the GI Bill and $52,000 worth of student loans. Can the GI Bill be used to pay this off. They are excess from classes that I took while on active duty and I used the TA for. What TA did not, I had to get a student loan for the rest.

A: I get this question a lot, but the answer is no it can’t. The GI Bill does not have a provision to pay off student loans. My question is if you were on active duty at the time, and assuming you had the GI Bill when you were going to school, why didn’t you use the Tuition Top-Up Program to help cover some of the costs Tuition Assistance didn’t cover?

The way it works is, if you are using Tuition Assistance and Top-Up, your service branch pays your whole tuition and then bills the VA for the amount TA doesn’t cover. The VA pays that amount to your service branch and, in turn, converts the dollar amount they paid into months and days of entitlement. Then they deduct that amount of time from your GI Bill. It is a great way to extend your GI Bill benefits and it would have significantly reduced your student loan amount.

Now granted, if you were not eligible for your GI Bill at the time, then it would not have done you any good. I bring it up though, as many servicemembers are not aware of the Tuition Top-Up program and what it can do for them.

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