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How Far in Advance Should I Apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance?

Q: How far in advance should I apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance? I just got back from a deployment and EAS on September 15th. Is that enough time? How do I go about that?

A: You don’t have to “apply” for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in the traditional sense of the word. How the process works is you have to first get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) by going to the eBenefits website and submitting VA Form 22-1990. If this deployment is your only Title 10 active duty service then you’ll have to wait to apply until you have a copy of your DD214; the VA needs that document to verify your Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility.

Once you have your COE, take a copy of it with you when you register for school. Once registered, your school sends in a Certificate of Enrollment which tells the VA you are enrolled in their school. That form from the school (matched up against your COE) is what starts the payment process. The school gets paid their tuition and eligible fees at your Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level percentage, and you will start getting your monthly housing allowance and book stipend.

The VA pays you in arrears, so don’t expect your first housing allowance until at least a month after you start school. It is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take, if you attend class on campus. However, if you attend all classes online, then the most you can get in housing allowance is $754.50.

Your book stipend is a separate payment at the rate of $41.67 per credit and should come toward the beginning of your semester. There is a $1,000 per year cap on it but it’s enough for a couple of full-time semesters per academic year.

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