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How and When Do I Convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I will be transitioning out of the military next February and I need to know how can I convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill while still in the service? Or do I need to wait until I get out and then apply for it?

A: Actually you can “convert” to the Post 9/11 GI Bill anytime. But before you do, let me explain a couple of things.

First, once you convert, it is permanent in that you can’t transfer back to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) if you find out you should not have converted. Do a comparison of benefits of each GI Bill to see which route would be the best to go.

Second, if you convert with unused MGIB entitlement left, then all you will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months as you had left under the MGIB. However, if you first exhaust all of your MGIB entitlement and then convert, you can get an additional 12 months of entitlement.

If your goal is to get a bachelor’s degree and stop, then converting right now could be a good idea. Also once you convert and use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement that you brought over from the MGIB, you get a pro-rated amount of your $1,200 MGIB contribution back.

If you plan on going to grad school, then it may be better to use up your MGIB first and then convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill so that half of your grad school is covered by your additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. And no, you can’t bring over unused MGIB benefits AND get the additional months of benefits.

If you decide to convert, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return, you will get your Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

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