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Can I Use My Post 9/11 GI Bill to Cover the Rest of My Tuition Costs?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve got a question about a fellowship and out-of-state tuition at a public university. I’ll be doing a master’s program at a public school. In-state tuition is $30,000 but I’m out-of-state which is $45,000. I also got a $10,000 fellowship from the school for tuition and fees. Would I be able to use the fellowship for the extra $15,000 out-of-state tuition the GI Bill doesn’t cover or would the VA basically reduce it’s payment to $20,000 because of the scholarship? I’ll be using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and I’ve already left active duty. Thanks for your help. This is the best GI Bill Q&A I’ve come across!

A: The VA would reduce the amount of tuition it pays by the amount of your fellowship. What many people don’t know is with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA is the last entity to pay in the case of multiple financial aids. If the money is fenced, that is only can be applied toward tuition and fees, the VA ends up paying less.

On the other hand, if your financial aid is not fenced, then you can use the money for anything and the VA still pays the same amount it would otherwise pay.

Also because the VA only pays in-state tuition, it would end up paying $20,000 ($30,000 – $10,000) of your tuition cost. You would be responsible to pay the difference of about $25,000.

However, your fellowship would not affect the amount the VA pays you in housing allowance or book stipend money.

One program that might be worth your while to look into is the Yellow Ribbon Program. If your school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA, they could pay up to 50% of the tuition difference; the VA would pay an equal amount which could leave you with nothing to pay. If your school has agreed to a percentage less than 50%, then you would end up with a small amount left to pay.

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