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Can I Use Tuition Assistance and My Post 9/11 GI Bill at the Same Time?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have never received a straight answer. Can I use TA and my Post 9/11 GI Bill at the same time? Any help would be greatly appreciated… Respectfully submitted.

A: Here is the straight answer – yes you can. However, the combination of using the two is called something different – the Tuition Top-Up Program. Under Top-Up, your service branch pays your tuition in full. However, if your tuition costs more than what Tuition Assistance (TA) is authorized to pay (which normally is $250 per credit with a $4,500 per year maximum), then the excess amount is billed to the VA. They in turn reimburse your service branch for the amount billed to them.

For those using the Montgomery GI Bill, the VA figures out how many months/days of tuition they paid and deducts that amount from your unused GI Bill benefits. The deducted amount is figured by dividing the amount paid to the service branch divided by $1,564 – the monthly amount of the Montgomery GI Bill.

For Post 9/11 GI Bill users, the amount deducted is for the duration of the course, meaning if the course is a semester long, then 4 months of benefits are deducted from your Post 9/11 GI Bill, regardless of the actual amount the VA paid back to your service branch. If the amount the VA would pay back to your service branch would be small, you might be better off paying that amount yourself and saving your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. You would know this up front before you request your TA.

So if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use Top-Up, it might not be as good of a deal as it is under the MGIB, but that is due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill not being paid at a set amount per month as is the MGIB.

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