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If I Did Not Serve Out All of My Initial Enlistment, Will I Still Get the Montgomery GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was honorably discharged before I hit the 24-month service mark. Does this mean that I am not eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill? I paid the $1,200 and don’t want my money to go to waste. I know the Post 9/11 GI Bill is an option, but I would prefer to use the old version. If I can’t, can I get my money back?

A: If you don’t complete your initial obligation, and whether you are eligible for Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits or not depends largely in part on the reason why you were separated early in the first place and the amount of time served verses your initial obligated enlistment. If the reason you were separated was for the convenience of the Government, you could get your full 36 months of MGIB benefits if you served at least 20 months of continuous active duty for an obligation of less than 3 years.

However, if your separation reason was for any of the ones listed below, then you most likely would get one month of benefits for each month of service:
• Service-connected disability
• Hardship
• A pre-existing medical condition
• A physical or mental condition that interfered with performance of duty, but didn’t result from misconduct on your part

Some Reductions-in-Force also qualify for full GI Bill benefits while others do not, so if that was the separation reason, see your Education Officer for guidance.

As far as getting your money back, don’t count on it. However, one thing that you should know is that you could get part of your money back by switching your Montgomery GI Bill benefits over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once you use up those benefits, you would get a pro-rated amount of your $1,200 back. Why? Because you paid for the MGIB, but the Post 9/11 GI Bill is free just for your service.

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