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How Do I Prove I Have the Buy-Up Program to Go Along with the Montgomery GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m headed to college after retiring in 06, I know I more than likely qualify under Voc Rehab, Post 9/11, and MGIB. I opted for MGIB when I did my online application, I’m worried that I haven’t any proof that I paid the 600 plus up; I know it was reflected on an LES at some time in my career but I don’t have it now. Do I need to worry, find someone at DFAS to show an LES that will prove it or is there a system that’ll do it and I’m just worrying over nothing?

A: No you have a right to be concerned. There isn’t a “system” that would tell the VA that you are eligible for the Buy-Up program. If you remembered, by you paying up to $600, you were able to get up to $5,400 in additional money that would be paid to you once you started using your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

One place you might go to get a copy of your Buy-Up documentation is at the Veterans Service Records website. Another way is to send an SF180 to the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132- 5100 with your Buy-Up documentation request.

You might have made the correct decision about choosing the MGIB so that you could use your Buy-Up Program. If you would have chosen the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would not have been able to use the Buy-Up, however, in some cases, it still could be advantageous to go with the Post 9/11 GI Bill even without the Buy-Up money. You would have to work the numbers both ways to see which one would benefit you the most.

Under the MGIB and Buy-Up, you would get about $1,714 combined and you would have to pay all your own education expenses. Under the New GI Bill, your tuition would be paid for directly to your school and you would get a monthly housing allowance that averages $1,300.

If you go to school in the Midwest, it might be a little less; go to school on either the East or West coasts and it is double the average amount. Plus at least for a couple semesters per academic year, you would also get the book stipend which figures out at $41.67 per credit. For a full-time student taking 12 credits, that is $500 per semester.

My point is don’t count out the Post 9/11 GI Bill (even if you would lose your Buy-Up money) until you have done your homework to see which GI Bill would be the better choice for you.

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