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How Do Post 9/11 GI Bill Changes Affect Students Attending Private School?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a little confused about how the changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill will affect students attending (or wishing to attend) private institutions. I recently graduated with my first undergraduate degree and I still have 19 months remaining on my Post 9/11 benefits. I am eligible for 50% of the active duty benefits. I am looking to apply to a graduate program at a private school that operates in quarters rather than semesters. Their yearly tuition rate is $31,000. I’m wondering if you could help me figure out how to calculate the amount of benefits that I would receive per quarter. I’m also confused about the private institution cap and how it factors into my situation.

A: The Post 9/11 GI Bill changed in 2011 eliminated the in-state maximums for students attending public schools and established a yearly maximum for students at private schools. Now, if you attend a public school and are at the 100% tier, your tuition is paid in full by the VA at the resident rate. If you attend a private school, then they can pay up to $19,198.31 per year.

Because you are at the 50% tier, the VA could only pay up to half of what they would normally pay for a student at the 100% tier. Now onto the quarter verses semester issue.

Semesters are generally 15 or 16 weeks depending on the school, where a quarter is more around 10 weeks long. If you are considered a full-time student, then entitlement use is one month of entitlement for each month of school.

Under the semester system, you would use up four months of entitlement per term. Under the quarter system, you would only use up 2 1/2 months per quarter, so with your 19 remaining months of entitlement, you could get about 7 1/2 quarters of school.

As far as payment, the VA would pay up to $9,599.16 per year (50% of the $19,198.31 maximum) for you to attend a private school. If you attended a public school, they would pay 50% of the resident tuition rate that your school charges.

Under either GI Bill, you are going to have considerable out-of-pocket expenses and since you are only at the 50% tier, and you are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

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