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If I’m Using the GI Bill and Pay for Textbooks and Tuition Expenses in Advance, Will I Be Reimbursed?

Q: Ron- I retired from the AF in 2004 and am considering using my GI Bill benefits to begin study (part-time) toward a Ph.D. in Physics at UMBC in January 2014. I’ve been accepted by UMBC; will I be reimbursed for textbook and tuition expenses if I pay for them in advance? What specific steps should I take to coordinate my actions with GI Bill administrators? Thanks- Jim

A: It depends on which GI Bill you are using, Jim. Being you got out in 2004, you could have either the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or Post 9/11 GI Bill (or both). Because the rules differ between the two GI Bills, let’s break them down separately.

With the MGIB, you get paid up to $1,624 per month to go to school full-time. It is your responsibility to pay your own tuition, books and any other education-related expenses that you may have. That monthly amount is all you get.

If you plan on using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then the VA would pay your tuition at the resident rate at your authorized tier level directly to your school. I reference the tier level, because depending on when you got out in 2004, you may or may not be fully covered. If you got out after September 10, 2004, then you are at 100%. If you got out before the September date, then you are at 90%.

Monthly you would also get a housing stipend based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. As a full-time student at UMBC, that amounts to $1,959 at the 100% tier level.

And finally, you would get a book stipend. Right now it is paying at the rate of $41.67 per credit. That would also be multiplied by your tier level if you are at less than 100%. There is a $1,000 per year cap, but you can usually get it for a couple of semesters per year.

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