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Can You End My Confusion on the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill?

Q: I am utterly confused about the 2 GI Bills and their use. I have been in since Jan 94, and am retiring Jan 2014. Like all of us back then I made my contributions into the old Montgomery GI Bill, and now qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. From what I am reading here I have to choose one or the other to use, however, when I went to the ED Center at the post I am stationed at the counselor told me I can use one, then the other and wouldn’t lose either. I guess this brings me to my two questions for clarification: 1) If I do decide to use the shiny new GI Bill, do I just lose out on the $1,200 dollars that were put into the Montgomery Bill? 2) Do I have to choose one or the other? Or can I use the Montgomery to get my undergrad courses out the way then use my Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement for the grad courses? Thanks for whatever help you can give me in advance, I am just hopelessly confused with all of this.

A: Great questions and I can clear up your confusion. Let’s start by answering your $1,200 Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) contribution question. If you bring all 36 months of MGIB benefits over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you get your $1,200 contribution back once you have finished using your 36 months of eligibility. Your MGIB contribution comes as part of your last housing allowance payment.

If you bring over less than 36 months, then your $1,200 contribution is prorated based on the number of MGIB months you brought across to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. For example, if you had 24 months of your original 36 months left, then you would get back 24/36ths of your $1,200 contribution or about $800.

Because you are eligible for both GI Bills, you can use either one or both. If you decide to stay with your MGIB, once you have used up all 36 months of entitlement, you could switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits. Under the Rule of 48, if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined benefit cannot exceed 48 months.

However, if you decide to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with months of MGIB entitlement left, then all you would get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months you had left under the MGIB and not the additional 12 months of benefits.

So to answer your last question, yes you can use your MGIB to get your undergrad degree and 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill to work toward your grad degree. Sweet huh!

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