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Is There Any Way I Can Use My Remaining GI Bill Funds That I’m Entitled to?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: So basically I can only get one degree (i.e. a bachelor’s) in that 36-month time frame? It took me 20 months of benefits to get my B.S. degree. The master’s program I want to take will far exceed the remaining 14 months of benefits left. Therefore, I am unable to go beyond a bachelor’s degree. Am I understanding this correctly? If so, is there any way around this to tap into all those unused funds that I am entitled too?

A: The 36 months of benefits provided for in your GI Bill is enough for one four-year degree. That was all it was ever intended to provide. If you have 14 months left to use on you Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), you can use it as a start on your master’s degree. Granted it won’t pay for the whole thing, but it should pay for over half of it as most master’s degree programs are two-year programs.

If you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, by serving for at least three years after September 10, 2001, then you could get an additional 12 months of benefits which should give you enough to finish your master’s degree when paired with your remaining 14 months of MGIB benefits.

The way to switch from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill is to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. Be sure to mark Block 9f in Part II, enter an effective date when you want your Post 9/11 GI Bill to kick in (make the date well after you run out of MGIB benefits) and check Chapter 30 as the GI Bill you are giving up.

If you did not opt for the MGIB when you enlisted, then all you have is 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and in that case, you would have to fund the remaining part of your master’s degree out-of-pocket.

While you may think the Uncle Sam “owes” you both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, he does not. I know a lot of students who would be thrilled to get their four-year degree and half of a master’s degree paid for.

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