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Is It Correct That I Can Only Use One GI Bill at a Time?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello. I used to be in the Marine Reserves and got out in January 2004. The last two years from January 2002-January 2004, I was activated. I live in Texas and meet all the qualifications for the Hazelwood Act. Since I got out, I’ve finished my Associate in Sciences Degree for pre-physical therapy, but then decided to switch fields and get a certificate in Travel and Tourism. I still want to do Travel and Tourism, but I also want to start a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration this fall to help me out in Travel and Tourism, if not just to help me out in general. I have used my Chapter 30 benefits for both the Associate in Sciences degree and the Travel and Tourism certificate and now have one month and 28 days to be exact left in my Chapter 30 benefits to use by January 2014. I have just now learned of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and its monthly housing allowance plus the books stipend. From what I understand, I can only use one (the Chapter 30 or the new Post 9/11 GI Bill) at a time? Is that right? I suppose if I only have one month and 28 days left on the Chapter 30, I probably won’t have too much left on the Post 9/11 GI Bill if I decided to switch(that is if I’m allowed). I want to start my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration this fall, but I don’t know which bill is better to use considering what I have left on my benefits, and if I can use the Hazelwood Act at the same time with one of the bills. I just want to get the most out of my benefits.

A: Yes that is right. You will have to choose which GI Bill you wish to use. Eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill goes back to September 10, 2001, so you have some eligibility for the New GI Bill that you can use – as a matter-of-fact 80%.

Because you are eligible for two GI Bills, here are a couple of things to think about. One, if you use up your remaining Chapter 30 benefits and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you could get an additional 12 months of education benefits. If you switch with one month and 28 days left of your Chapter 30 benefits, that is the same amount of time you would get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not the additional time.

Or two, you can receive Hazelwood Act benefits and Chapter 30 benefits at the same time, however, you can’t get both under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So while you could get Hazelwood Act benefits for almost two months, while you use up your remaining Chapter 30 benefits, I don’t think it is worth the hassle. But that is just me.

So it makes sense to exhaust your remaining Chapter 30 benefits first and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Use up that additional year of benefits and then switch to your Hazelwood Act benefits. Under this plan, you could use up almost 14 months of GI Bill benefits and then still have 150 hours of Hazelwood Act benefits left to use.

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