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If I Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with One Month Left, Can I Get an Extension to the End of the Semester?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have 10 months and 21 days left of my MGIB benefits. I plan on starting my bachelor’s program this August. I served from 9/2002-9/2004 in the Army. I am wondering 1) How are the months calculated for the MGIB and the Post 9/11 Bill and are they the same? 2) If I plan to go to school from August 2013-December 2014, would it be better for me to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now? 3) My benefits expire September 2014, what happens to the remaining months on my MGIB after that? Can I apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at that point? 4) If I switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and have one month left when I start classes in Fall of 2014, is it possible to get an extension through the rest of the semester? Also I was wondering how long it takes to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill from MGIB? My classes start the 26th of August, I am considering using the MGIB for fall semester and switching to Post 9/11 GI Bill in January. I just need any advice possible, as I am trying to find a way to have school paid for because of the hardship it is causing my family at this time. Thanks!

A: I’ll answer your questions in the order asked: (1) Yes, months of eligibility are calculated the same regardless of which GI Bill you are using. The VA uses a standard of 30 days per month regardless of how many days are actually in the month. So for each month you are in school full-time, you use up one month of eligibility. If you go to school part-time, then you use up a lesser amount depending on your percentage of full-time and rounded off to the nearest 10%. (2) No you would not be better off, because if you switch now you would only get the same number of months and days under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you have left under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).

If you use up your MGIB benefits first and then switch, you get an additional 12 months of benefits. Being you would be in school for four semesters, you’ll use up about 16 months of entitlement and you only have a little over 10 months left.

With your MGIB benefits expiring in September 2014, you would have exhausted your MGIB benefits before they expire, leaving the road open to get Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (and an additional five years of time to use them). (3) Any unused benefits left at the end of your delimitation date are lost. (4) With either GI Bill, and on a semester term basis, if you run out of benefits mid-term, you are carried through to the end of the semester.

It still takes time to switch GI Bills; not long ago it could take up to eight weeks, but that time is now reduced since the VA switched to their new software.

To switch, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. Just be sure to put your effective date well after when you would run out of MGIB benefits. That way you would seamlessly roll over from one GI Bill to the other.

Stay with your MGIB until it is exhausted and then go over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill so that you get the additional months of eligibility and time to use it.

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