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Can You Answer These Questions on the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello I have a few questions about the new GI bill: • If I am a reservist with greater than 1095 days of service (this count includes initial active duty training days, and active-duty days; but excludes drill days and annual training) do I qualify for the 100% benefit of the new GI bill? • Is the housing stipend fixed based on zip code, or does it decrease based on the amount of income you declare on your taxes? (For example, if I earned $12,000 last year would the housing stipend subtract $12,000 from the benefit?) • Does the new GI bill apply to any degree program, including PhD programs? • Is there a lifetime maximum on the amount of money one can receive from the new GI bill? • Is the maximum number of months still 48? Thank you for your assistance.

A: O.K. let’s take your questions in the order you asked them. The whole key to a reservist getting the minimum benefit from the Post 9/11 GI Bill is if you have been on Title 10 orders in support of a contingency operation, such as Afghanistan (although there are other operations that also qualify) greater than 90 days. Three years would get you to the 100% level, however, training days do not count until you reach 24 months of service.

The housing allowance is determined by the zip code of your school and has nothing to do with how much you make. It is paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents. If you are a greater-than-half-time student and not taking all classes online, you would qualify for the housing allowance.

As far as degree programs, yes it applies from an associate’s degree all the way up to a PhD.

No, there is not a maximum limit on how much you can get from the Post 9/11 GI Bill. That is why it is hard to determine what it is worth when asked that question. The only fixed part of the equation is the book stipend which is paid at $41.67 per credit. Otherwise, what you are paid in housing allowance and what the VA pays in tuition/fees is dependent on the school’s zip code and the in-state maximum of the state where the school is located, respectively. Each state uses a different maximum tuition/fees figure.

Under the Rule of 48, yes, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the maximum number of combined months is limited to 48, however, you would not get 48 months under just the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You would have to first exhaust your other GI Bill of 36 months, switch and then you would get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, adding up to a total of 48 months.

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