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How Do I Get My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Started?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I left the military early, because I was pregnant. So, I will only receive a portion of my benefits. I do have a bachelor’s degree that I obtained with financial aid. I tried to get financial aid for an associate’s program and was told that I am not eligible, because I have a bachelor’s degree.

I am relying on my Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for my tuition. The problem is that I am not sure how this is done. I have read over it about 100 times, and it isn’t clicking. My tuition is $784 per semester where I am going.

The max for the state with my percentage that I should receive is $7500. So, does that mean they will pay it all or will they pay the percentage of the school’s tuition? And do they pay that specific amount or do they refund the over amount like financial aid does?

My little brother received around $2000 a month for school under the Montgomery GI Bill, so I am confused about all this too… Can you clarify these things for me? I consider myself pretty smart, but this whole thing is confusing me.

A: Yes, Anne, it is confusing, but let me try to clarify it for you. How the Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition works is the VA established a maximum tuition amount they would pay for each state and territory. That amount was based on each state’s most expensive public school undergraduate program. They have a separate maximum amount for eligible fees that varies also.

The maximum amount is based on per credit hour and full-time course load, which at most schools is considered 12 credits per term (quarter, semester, etc.) So lets say the VA’s maximum amount for XYZ state was $350. If you were at the 100% level, they would pay up to this amount per credit up to 12 credits per semester ($350 x 12 = $4,200). However, if your school is charging less than the maximum, the VA pays the lesser amount.

If you were at a lesser percentage than 100%, let’s say 50%, then they would only pay 50% of the $350 times 12 credits (4200 x 50% = $2,100).

When you say your tuition is $784, I’m assuming that figure is per credit. If so, multiply $784 by the number of credits you are taking. Now multiply that figure by your percentage. That is the amount the VA will pay directly to your school. The difference between what the school charges and what the VA pays is your responsibility to pay. There is no refund involved.

However, if you are not taking just online courses and you are taking at least 7 credits per term, you would also get a housing allowance and a book stipend calculated at your percentage. The housing allowance is calculated at a pay grade of E-5 with dependents for the zip code of your school. The book stipend is calculated at $41.67 per credit with a $1,000 per year maximum. Your book stipend would be your percentage times $1,000.

You can use the BAH calculator to figure the full housing allowance and then multiply the E-5 with dependents figure by your percentage. Once at the calculator, type in the zip code of your school in the Duty Zip Code field. From the Pay Grade field select E-5 from the Drop-down Menu. Click on Submit. When you get the results, use the E-5 with dependents figure as the full housing allowance figure.

If your brother was getting around $2,000 per month from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then he was most likely getting the full MGIB benefit of $1,368 per month and then he either had the Buy-Up or a kicker which added money to his monthly amount getting him to around $2,000. With your brother using the MGIB, he had to pay his own tuition, fees and related education expenses. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school and you get paid monthly for the housing allowance and book stipend.

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