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If My Tuition Is Already Paid, Can I Use My Post 9/11 GI Bill Tuition Dollars for Something Else?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: The school I am going to has offered me free tuition. I, however, will still need to pay for room and board, etc. If, however, the tuition is covered by an outside source, can the tuition dollars that the college has covered be used for other school expenses such as room and board? Can the GI Bill be used for this purpose? So basically can the GI Bill be used to pay for the school, so I can use its tuition waver to pay for the room and board?

A: It sounds like you are talking about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which in that case, no it can’t. The reason? Many people don’t know that the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the last payer of tuition when multiple sources of financial aid are involved. So if your school is paying your tuition, then there is nothing left for the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay.

In this case, all you would get out of your New GI Bill is your monthly housing allowance and book stipend. But, you can still use your monthly housing allowance to pay your room and board as that money comes directly to you and you can use it for whatever you want.

Your book stipend money will be close to $500 per semester if you take 12 credits, however, there is a $1,000 per year cap, but it is enough for a couple of full-time semesters per academic year.

If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill, then yes, you would get the same amount per month regardless if your school paid your tuition or not – currently $1,648 per month, but that is all you get. No housing allowance or book stipend.

You would have to do the math to see which GI Bill would be the best for you to use. Because your tuition is paid and your housing allowance is determined largely by the zip code of your school, your MGIB might be a better choice, especially if your school is in a low-cost area.

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