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Do I Have to Live On Campus to Get the Extra $1,300 a Month Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance?

Q: Hi, I have a question about the GI Bill. I guess it would go under the housing allowance category. My dad is transferring part of his GI Bill to me and he said part of it comes with about $1,300 a month for living expenses. He thinks you only get that extra $1300 if you’re living in a dorm, but he isn’t sure if that’s the case or not. So my question is, if I live off campus but go to school mostly full time, will I get that extra $1,300 a month to help pay for living expenses as well, or do I have to live in a dorm room on campus to get that? Thanks!

A: No you don’t have to live in a dorm to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance. As a matter of fact, you can live at home, not pay rent and still get the same amount (but don’t tell your dad I said so). This question recently came up again, so I don’t know if it is a coincidence or if it posted somewhere on the Internet.

Right now, there is not a GI Bill in the bunch that pays you anything more or less if you live in a dorm. You can live in a dorm, off campus in an apartment, share a house with friends or live at home – it doesn’t make a difference to the VA.

However, I did want to clarify the $1,300 amount referenced by your dad. The $1,300 is an average across the whole United States. You may get around that amount, or more or less, depending on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. If you go to school in the Midwest, it will be slightly less than the average, however, if you are a full-time student and your school is located on either the East or West Coast, it would be about double that amount.

As I mentioned, your housing allowance is driven by the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. For example, if your school considers 12 credits to be full-time and you are only taking 9 credits, you would only get 9/12ths of the full housing allowance authorized for their zip code, so the number of credits you take can make a big difference in the amount you get.

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