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How Do I Get My Graduate Degree and Still Preserve Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits for My Daughter?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I transferred one year of my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my daughter so that I could do the service commitment before I retired. I want to use Top-Up to cover some of my second BA degree and Graduate Degree but I want to keep as much available for her as possible. If my classes are six weeks long and $750.00 a piece, how much would that deduct from my GI Bill if I used it to cover the entire thing? Also, if my classes (Graduate) are $1400.00 each and I use TA to pay for $750.00 and then Top Up to cover the remaining balance, how much would that deduct from my GI Bill? (6 Week Classes) Thanks!

A: The qwerky thing about Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement use is it doesn’t matter the cost of the course, you use up the same amount of entitlement. So for a six-week course, you would use up six weeks of entitlement. I don’t know how many six-week courses you have to take until you would have your bachelor’s degree so I can’t tell you the exact amount, but knowing what you know now, you can figure it out.

The Tuition Top-Up program under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is not as good as it is under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Under the MGIB, your service branch pays the whole tuition bill. Out of that amount, Tuition Assistance pays what it can and the remaining amount is sent to the VA for reimbursement back to your service branch.

The VA in turn calculates how much entitlement to deduct from your remaining balance by dividing what they paid by the MGIB monthly amount. So using your figures, if the VA had to pay $650 ($1,400 – $750) they would deduct .39 of a month of entitlement (or about 11 days) from your remaining MGIB benefits.

However under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, they deduct the whole six week’s worth of entitlement regardless of how much (or how little) they have to pay. So using the same example as above, if they had to pay $650, they would deduct six weeks of entitlement.

If you want to keep as much entitlement for your daughter as possible, I would forgo the second bachelor’s degree and instead concentrate on your advanced graduate degree.

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