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When Does My Post 9/11 GI Bill Entitlement Begin?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is transferring his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. My question is this: if I find out that this semester is covered by grants, will my 36 months begin anyway? And as far as the time limit goes, is it three years, or is it 36 months of actively being enrolled in school. ie- If I’m not enrolled in the summer term, will that still cost me three months of benefits? Thank you for any information you can give!

A: Your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement will start when you enroll in school using your Certificate of Eligibility. If your fall semester will be covered by grants, then delay using your GI Bill by one semester. The “trigger” to start using your GI Bill is when your certificate and the Certificate of Enrollment your school submits, showing you are enrolled as a GI Bill student, match up at the VA. That starts your benefits and begins using up your entitlement.

Thirty-six months of entitlement is enough to attend four 9-month academic years. Unless you take summer classes, you do not use up entitlement over the summer break, nor do you get paid for it under the changes of the GI Bill 2.0. Before the change, you could get paid your housing allowance over the semester breaks. Because that was all you got out of that entitlement use, I never thought it was a good use of benefits, but many students liked the steady income. However, that is all water under the bridge as break pay was eliminated as of August 1st.

It does take 8 to 10 weeks to get your certificate, so be sure to give yourself enough lead time. Otherwise, see your school VA Certifying Official and see if you can get certified to start school without your certificate – it can catch up later.

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