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What Does the Post 9/11 GI Bill Pay If I Attend School In Another State as a Non-Resident?

Q: I am currently signed up for the old MGIB benefits and have been waiting to transfer over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill until Virginia made its decision regarding its benefits this year. I am a Texas resident interested in attending a graduate level James Madison University distance learning program. Prior to the changes, Virginia had one of the lowest rates out of any state. Would it be possible to attend the University under either of the GI Bills from another state?

A: I can’t specifically locate James Madison distance learning tuition rates, but as a comparison, they are showing on their website a resident rate of $410 per resident graduate credit hour verses $1,095 for non-residents, so it is quite a bit different.

If you keep your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), then it would pay you $1,564 per month if your rate of pursuit is considered full-time and you had served at least three years on active duty. However, if you switch over the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it would pay your tuition up to the resident undergraduate rate of $18,077.50 for a private school. That amount goes up to $19,198.31 on August 1st.

The difference not paid would be your responsibility unless your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program (of which James Madison is not) and then between the school and the VA, they would pay the bulk of your difference.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a full-time online-only student, you would get up to $647.50 per month in housing allowance and a book stipend of $41.67 per credit hour per semester (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

By comparison, if you took just one class at a local campus per semester that applied to your degree plan, in addition to your online classes, you could more than double your monthly housing allowance.

Unless they teach something there you can’t get in Texas, I would look at schools in your home state. The tuition costs would be less (because you would be paying resident rates) and you could still take distance learning. If you would choose a school that is part of the Yellow Ribbon program, then your out-of pocket costs would be low. Just be sure your school has included your graduate degree program in their VA agreement.

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