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How Do I Best Maximize My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, I’m planning ahead for the summer, and had a question that I just couldn’t find the answer to on the official VA website. Facts: -Active duty veteran, 100% eligible. -Using CH 33, Post 9/11 GI Bill. -Attending expensive private university with Yellow Ribbon program. -Sophmore. Planning on stretching out benefits to have some left over for eventual grad school. I am considering taking 1 or 2 summer classes, so that I may still receive BAH. If I pursue a summer session, for 1-2 classes, maybe 3-6 credits: How will my benefits be used up? Will I be charged a full month of benefits for going to school less than full time? Will I receive a prorated BAH? Basically, I am trying to maximize my benefits, and get the absolute most (tuition coverage & BAH) for every month I get charged, as well as receive some BAH over the summer. Thank you in advance for your help. It is greatly appreciated. Best regards

A: First, you have to be considered a greater-than-half-time student to be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance, which means if your school considers 12 credits to be full-time, you have to take at least 7 credits to get the full housing allowance. That will change in the fall with the passage of the GI Bill 2.0. After August 1st,you will get prorated housing allowance directly based on the number of credits you take. If you take 51% of what your school considers to be full-time, then you will get 51% of the housing allowance. That will be a big change for many who are used to getting the full housing allowance by taking a minimal number of credits.

As far as entitlement usage, if you are considered a full-time, you use up one full month of GI Bill benefits for each full month you go to school. If you are a less-than-full-time student, you use up entitlement based on a percentage of full-time. Let’s use that same example of your school considering 12 credits as full-time. If you are only carrying 7 credits, then you use up 7/12ths of a month of entitlement for each months you are in school or about 17.5 days for each month.

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