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How is Money Subtracted from My GI Bill If I Take a Gunsmithing Certification Course?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Say I want to get a gunsmithing certificate from a VA-approved school. The cost is $2,500. The training is at my own pace. Here’s my question: how is the money subtracted from my GI Bill? Do I lose just the months of benefit that equal the $2,500 or do I lose the number of months it takes me to complete the program? I am on active duty and have the Montgomery GI Bill and I am eligible to transfer to the Post 9/11 Bill. Thanks! I don’t want to spend $2,500 and lose an entire year’s worth of benefits should it take me that long.

A: This is a great question and my answer shows what a difference there really is as far as which GI Bill you use. Your concern is the amount of GI Bill eligibility you would use by taking this course and it is a valid concern, but let me show you just what the difference really is.

If you take this course using your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), the amount of entitlement you would use would be in increments of the monthly amount the MGIB pays divided into the cost of the course. Since the MGIB currently pays $1,564 per month and your course costs $2,500, you would use up 1.59 months or about 1 month and 18 days of your MGIB eligibility and you would be required to pay for the course yourself.

If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay the $2,500 course cost directly to the school. Monthly you would get a housing allowance paid at the E-5 with dependents pay grade. It averages around $1,300 per month across the United States, but is dependent on the zip code of your school unless you are taking the course online. Then your housing allowance would max out at $647.50 per month.

You would also get $83 per month in book stipend money. However, you would also use up one month of eligibility for each month you are enrolled in the course; the longer it takes you to finish the course, the more months of benefits you use up. So if you are concerned about using the least amount of eligibility, then your best bet would be to use the MGIB.

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