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I’m Confused as to the Best Time to Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My question is: I’m still on active duty, but I will ETS from the military in February 2014. I plan on attending school in August/September of 2014, however, I’m confused as to when to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Do I go and start a DD 22-1990 and apply for the benefits now to switch from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 or do I wait to do that until I ETS?

A: If you do not have plans on transferring any of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse or dependent children, then it is immaterial when you make the GI Bill switch. However if transferring benefits is in your plans, then you have to do it while on active duty because after you are out, it is too late.

To transfer from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990 (not DD Form 22-1990 as you stated in your question). If you have MGIB entitlement left at the time you switch GI Bills, then the months of entitlement you would get under the New GI Bill is the same as what you had before you switched from the old GI Bill.

However, if you first exhaust all your MGIB entitlement and then switch, you would get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement bringing you up to a total of 48 months. So from that aspect it makes a difference when you switch and is in part dependent on your education goals. If you plan to get up to a 4-year degree and stop, then most likely you would be better to switch before you start school.

But if you plan to get a degree beyond your four-year one, then you might be better off waiting until you have used up all of your MGIB entitlement, so you can take advantage of the additional entitlement.

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