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Can My Son Switch to the Montgomery GI Bill After Using Up His Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My son was advised to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill and has completed his 36 months. His plan was to then use the Pell grant – but now he is told that all of his units completed using his GI Bill count against the Pell. He will be without funding the end of this semester. All the VA office at his school said all they could do for him is give him a phone number to see if he could switch to Montgomery. He has called repeatedly, but never gets a call back. My questions are:

Can he switch to Montgomery? He is completing undergraduate in Astrophysics. If he can – HOW can he do this if there is no one who appears to be able to help him? Thank you so much!

A: What he was told about his GI Bill units counting against his Pell grant eligibility is true but not in the sense he was told. Pell grants can only be used for undergraduate funding and because he used his GI Bill first and got his degree, he is no longer eligible for the Pell grant. A better plan of attack would have been to use the Pell grant for undergraduate and then his GI Bill for his advanced degree if he insisted on using the Pell. But there are other financial aid options, including the Perkins, Stafford and Direct Plus.

The physical aspect of switching GI Bills is easy – submitting one form electronically. But the bigger issue is his eligibility.

If the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the only one he has, then he could not switch to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) because he would not have signed up for it when he first enlisted nor would he have paid the $1,200 contribution fee.

If he did have the MGIB and switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he no longer has the MGIB, as he agreed to “give it up” when he made the switch to the New GI Bill.

Now if he happened to have another GI Bill, other than the MGIB and Post 9/11, and he gave up that GI Bill when he switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he would have 12 months of eligibility under the MGIB.

If that is the case, then he should go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990 to get his updated Certificate of Eligibility. It would then show he has 12 months of MGIB eligibility that he can use when registering for school and the date when the benefits will expire.

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