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Even Though I Used Part of My Montgomery GI Bill, Do I Now Qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Q: I served on active duty from 1997 to 2002 and I was honorably discharge. In 2003, I used my GI Bill (or a portion of it) for an apprenticeship as an electrician. In 2004 while being an electrician, I joined my local Reserve unit. In September of 2005, I was activated and did a tour in Iraq. I returned home in November of 2006 and my service time was completed. My question is even though I used the Montgomery GI Bill (or a portion of it) for apprenticeship, do I have more GI Bill available for school now and/or do I now qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill. If I do, how much, and how do I start going to school now?

A: Yes you do qualify now for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 60% tier, due to your 14-month tour in Iraq. As far as your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), it is good for 10 years from your last date of discharge, so what benefits you have left under the MGIB after your apprenticeship was complete will expire in 2016.

Because you are at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill level, you can be on the edge as far as which GI Bill would serve you best. Under the MGIB, you would get $1,473 per month to go to school, Out of that amount you have to pay all your own tuition, fees, books, etc. However, once you exhaust the MGIB benefits you have left, you could switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits paid at the 60% rate.

Or, you could switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now and get the same number of months you had left under the MGIB, but not get the additional 12 months of benefits.

Let’s look at the pay side. So assume you are taking 12 credits at $250 per credit, the full housing allowance is the $1,200 average, have book costs of $300. At the 60% level, the VA would pay $1,800 of your tuition and fees directly to your school. You would get $300 in book stipend and $720 per month in housing allowance. So under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would net $1,980 for the semester.

Under the MGIB, you would get $5,892 for the semester and after expenses net $2,590. So money-wise, you would be better staying with the MGIB and after exhausting your current benefits, get the additional 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If the housing allowance for your school is significantly higher, then it could end up being almost a wash between the two GI Bills.

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