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Is It Better to Use Up My Chapter 30 Benefits First or Switch Now to Chapter 33 GI Bill Now?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I used about 16 months of my Montgomery G.I. Bill while still on active duty to complete my Bachelors. I am now honorably discharged as of 2007 and served 10 years active duty and paid the extra $600.00. I now am going to get my Masters online thru Liberty University. They have a block rate of $2,200.00 per semester which is 3 months long. Is it best to keep CH 30 and then exhaust it and pick up CH 33 for an additional 12 months? Also, since it will be all online, do I still get the $1,473/mth to pay the tuition and books and pocket the rest or will the VA only give me enough to cover tuition? Thank you!

A: If you use your Montgomery GI Bill to take online classes, the VA would still pay you $1,473 per month from your GI Bill and about another $150 from the Buy-Up program to go to school. You would have to pay your own tuition, books and other education-related fees. So for each 3-month semester, you would get $4,869 from your MGIB/Buy-Up leaving you with $2,669 leftover for the semester to buy books and for living expenses.

Going to school online under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA would pay your tuition and you would get $673.50 per month in housing allowance or $2,020.50 for the semester. You would also get about $500 in book stipend money, so it almost ends up being a wash within about $143 per semester.

So in your situation, it looks like you could exhaust your remaining months of MGIB and then pick up your additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Another consideration to stay with the MGIB would be your $600 Buy-Up Program. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would lose that as it is not a valid program under the New GI Bill.

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