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How Is the Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance Calculated?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to know about the housing allowance? I have 1 year left in the Army and when I get out I want get in college. How does that work?

A: Because you referenced “housing allowance” in your questions, know that we are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill. None of the other GI Bills pay out a housing allowance.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance is based on:
• The zip code of your school.
• The number of credits you take in a semester.
• Your tier percentage.

Zip Code
While the housing allowance calculation is based on BAH tables – the same tables that determines your BAH while on active duty – that is where the similarity stops. BAH is paid twice a month; the housing allowance once a month and always in arrears. The VA is always a month behind in paying out housing allowance. BAH is paid based on the zip code of your residence; the housing allowance as we said is based on the zip code of your school. BAH is paid according to your rank and whether you have dependents or not; the housing allowance is paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents, regardless of your actual pay grade or dependent status.

Number of credits
To qualify for any housing allowance at all, you have to take at least 51% of the number of credits your school considers to be full-time. A while back, as long as you took that minimum of 51% you got the full housing allowance, but that changed with GI Bill 2.0. Now you get a percentage of the full amount if you are less than full-time. For example if you are taking 7 credits and your school considers 12 full-time, you would get 7/12ths of the E-5 with dependents amount authorized for the zip code of your school.

Also, your housing allowance amount is different if you take all your classes online. Then it isn’t based on the zip code of your school, but on a fixed amount up to $714.50 if full-time; the same pro-rated ratio applies if you are less than full-time.

Tier Percentage
Your tier percentage also factors into the final amount you get. For example if you are a National Guard soldier who served a one-year tour in Iraq, your tier percentage is 60%. That tier percentage would then be multiplied to amount derived from the calculation of the E-5 with dependents amount and number of credits calculation.

Finally, the housing allowance is usually paid around the same time each month after you first initially start receiving it and it is not paid during semester breaks. That was another change due to GI Bill 2.0.

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