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How Is the Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefit Calculated When You Attend Two Schools With Different Semesters?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How is the 9/11 GI Bill benefit calculated when you attend 2 schools which have different types of semesters? I attend an online college as my primary college – they offer courses starting every month and lasting for 8-weeks each. Because there are a couple courses in my degree plan that I would have a difficult time taking in the online format, I’m taking those at a local community college (secondary college – NOT online) where they operate in more traditional, 16-week semesters. I’m currently taking a 4 credit course at the secondary school for their Fall semester. Inside this time I will be taking a 3 credit course at my primary school followed by another online course which will overlap the last month of my Fall community college semester and the first month of my Spring community college semester. How would my benefit be calculated in this scenario?

A: The two benefits that would be affected of course are your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance and book stipend as both are based on the number of credits you take. The VA figures both of the above allowances based on the number of credits you are taking on a particular day.

So if the courses you are taking today equal or exceed what your school uses for their full-time credit level, (and you are at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier), then you would get the full housing allowance allocated for the zip code of your school. However, in the case of staggered courses – courses with different start and stop dates – your housing allowance changes based on your credit load changing as courses start and stop.

For example let’s use your numbers. If I’m reading your question right, you are taking a traditional 4-credit 16-week course and a 3-credit 8-week online course followed by another 8-week 3-credit online course that will overlap the last month of the current semester and the first month of the next semester.

For explanation purposes, I’m assuming your traditional and first online course started at the beginning of the semester. So during the first 8 weeks (two months) of the semester, you would get paid housing allowance prorated for 7 credits.

During the third month, you would only be taking 4 credits, so you may not qualify for any housing allowance. If 4 credits is less than 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time, then you would not be authorized a housing allowance.

For the fourth and last month of the semester, you would be back up to 7 credits, so you should get around the same amount as you were getting each of the first two months. If you are just taking the second month of your 3-credit online course during the next semester, then you most likely would not get any housing allowance.

If you would add another online course or two to the one you would be taking in the new semester, you may get enough credits to warrant the online-only housing allowance up to $673.50 per month.

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