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If I Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Do I Get 3 Years of Entitlement Automatically?

Q: If I switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, do I get 3 years automatically? What about the 12-month extension? I never used my Montgomery GI Bill and I served almost 9 years. I’m separating this September 2014. Please help. Thank you!

A: If you switch from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and you have never used your MGIB entitlement, then you would get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under the MGIB – 36 months. If you first used up all of your MGIB entitlement before switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you would get the additional 12 months of entitlement.

Under the MGIB or Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have enough benefit to get a four-year degree. The biggest difference is how each GI Bill pays. Under the MGIB, you would get up to $1648 per month to go to school. Out of that amount you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay up to 100% of the resident tuition directly to your school if you attend a public school or up to $19,198.31 per year to attend a private school.

Regardless of your venue, you would get on average $1,300 per month in housing allowance. Also, once per semester, you would also get a book stipend calculated at $41.67 per credit. However, there is a $1,000 per year cap on the book stipend, but it is enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters per academic year.

If your goal is to get a four-year degree, then it is almost a no-brainer to convert. If you have aspirations of getting a graduate degree, then you may want to use your MGIB for your four-year degree and then convert so you would have 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit to use for part of your graduate degree. Grad school tuition is so much more expensive than undergraduate tuition.

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