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What Would I Really Get in GI Bill College Fund Money?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in Nov 2002 and was given $50,000 College Fund incentive along with the GI Bill. I have been doing a bit of research and have found that it seems that even though when I signed up I was told the 50K was in addition to the GI Bill, that in reality it was not. Basically from what I can find, you take GI Bill value at enlistment and subtract that from my 50K. Which means I actually got around 14K. Is this about right? The reason I ask is because I am trying to calculate my approx. monthly payment for BAH plus the College Fund.

A: Many people were duped by what they were really getting when they opted for the College Fund program. As you did, most thought the amount they were quoted was above and beyond what they would get from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Also as you did, most found out afterward that their quoted amount includes payment from the MGIB.

Your amount of $14,000 seems low to me. I went into the VA’s website and found out the MGIB monthly payment in January 2002 for a full-time student was $800 per month. Multiply that by 36 months of benefits and your total MGIB amount should have been worth around $28,800 at the time you signed up for the GI Bill. If you subtract that amount from $50,000, you end up with $21,200, which based on my experience seems to me to be more in the ballpark.

So to estimate how much monthly you would receive in College Fund money, divide the $21,200 figure by 36 months. That comes out to $588 per month. Currently, the MGIB pays $1,473 per month, so with your College Fund amount, it should total around $2,061. Don’t forget that you will have to pay your own tuition, books and other education-related expenses.

However, you may want to look into the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You qualify for it and probably would pay you more. Under that GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and you get a monthly housing amount that averages $1,200 across the United States. Plus, at the beginning of each semester you get a book stipend of around $500 if you attend full-time, and you would still get your $588 in College Fund money. Check it out!

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