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In My Situation, Is It More Advantageous to Use the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi Ron, I’m taking online classes toward two master’s degrees. I plan to retire in about a year, and have 27 months of MGIB left. I would like to start using it for my master’s degrees. While on AD, for part-time up to the minimum full-time enrollment, I believe it’s advantageous to use the MGIB. However, anything over the minimum full-time load looks like the Post 9/11 GI Bill is better for me. Additionally, any classes taken at full-time or greater after AD shows the Post 9/11 GI Bill to be more advantageous. It’s quite possible I will not use all of my MGIB before attaining the degrees. Additionally, I will not have the degrees completed before I leave AD, so there will be no opportunity to transfer the benefits. Will the 9/11 GI Bill pay for two degrees at the same time? For instance, if I’m taking two courses under one program and one course under another program? I’m a bit confused on what is the best course of action.

A: I don’t have enough information to determine which GI Bill would be the better one for you. I can tell you that the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) pays up to $1,648 per month to go to school full-time.

In contrast under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school. Monthly, you get a housing allowance that across the nation averages around $1,300. Yours could be more or less as it is dependent upon the zip code of your school. Also figured into the calculation is the number of credits you take each semester.

Also, you get a book stipend that figures out at $41.67 per credit, however, there is a $1,000 per academic year cap on that stipend. It is enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters per school year though.

Your assessment of using the MGIB while on active duty may be correct. If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, all you get out of it is the book stipend and your tuition paid. I think a better route is to use the MGIB in association with Tuition Assistance and the Top-Up program. Using these three programs ensure you get the best mileage out of your MGIB entitlement use. You only get charged one month entitlement for each $1,648 amount paid.

Not so with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Regardless of what the VA pays, you get charged entitlement for the whole semester.

As far as transferring benefits between GI Bills, you can do that anytime – even after retiring. What you can’t do after retiring is initially transfer benefit to a dependent.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill will not pay for two degrees at the same time as you can only have one degree plan on file at any one time. However, it can pay for you to go to two schools at the same time, but the credits you acquire at one school have to be credited to your degree plan at the school that will be issuing you your degree.

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