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If I Use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Do I Also Get a Living Allowance?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Under the new GI Bill, does an eligible serviceman receive a living allowance for himself and his family while doing a degree course? I have seen lots of references to housing allowance but not to living allowances. How are families supported if the main earner is studying under the GI Bill?

A: As part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your housing allowance and book stipend are the only payments you receive as either direct deposited into your account or sent to you by check. However, I understand your concern about trying to support a family and go to school full-time.

In many cases, either the student also works at least part-time, or the other spouse works full-time while you are going to school. One other option is you can also apply for scholarships and grants. The nice thing about them, versus loans, is that they do not have to be paid back.

Of course your tuition and eligible fees are paid up directly to your school at the resident tuition rate if you attend public school or up to $17,500 per year if you attend private school. The housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take.

If you are a full-time student taking classroom classes and have served for at least three years on a Title 10 order (active duty or deployment if you are in the National Guard or Reserves), then you would be authorized the full housing allowance.

The housing allowance amount is based on the BAH rate tables – the same ones used to calculate your active duty pay – but instead, students are paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents whether you have dependents or not. Across the United States, on average the housing allowance amount is around $1,300. If you go to school in New York City or Los Angeles, it can be double that amount.

Your Post 9/11 GI Bill book stipend per semester is based on $41.67 per credit. It does have an annual $1,000 cap, but that is enough for two full-time 12-credit semesters per academic year.

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