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If I Use FTA and State TA, Will I Receive a Refund From the School or the VA?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently a member of the South Carolina National Guard and have less than one month remaining on my MGIB. My plan is to switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to receive the additional 12 months. My question is if I use FTA, and state TA (offered in SC) will I receive a refund from the school or will the benefits be paid to me? Also, what is the monthly dollar amount if I attend school full-time online? Thanks!

A: No, you won’t get a refund from your school, nor will the VA pay you back for tuition/fees benefits. I’m assuming you have deployed at least once on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation to so that you are authorized the Post 9/11 GI Bill. A typical one-year deployment would put you at the 60% tier. An additional deployment would raise you to a higher tier, but I’ll use 60% in calculating your dollar amount as that is the minimum you would have.

The GI Bill is the last payer when you are using multiple benefits, so they will pay your tuition and fees up to your tier percentage after the FTA and state TA pays toward your tuition and fees. So, you may only end up getting the book stipend of up to $600 per year (payable at 60% of the $41.67 per credit) and 60% of the housing allowance (based on the zip code of your school paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents) for those additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. So you will have to determine if that is what you want to get from your additional 12 months of benefits or if a better plan would be to use your 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill and then switch to FTA/State TA once you have exhausted your GI Bill entitlement. Or maybe use just the State TA and your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to make up for the rest. Work the numbers of all your options with the help of your school’s VA Certifying Official and your National Guard unit administrator to come up with the most financially advantageous plan to use up your remaining education entitlement.

Starting this fall, the full-time online-only Post 9/11 GI Bill housing stipend will be $673.50.

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