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When I Leave the Service, Would My Post 9/11 GI Bill Really Pay for Four Years of College?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: When I eventually leave the service I would like to enroll full time at a 4-year college and get my degree. Will the Post/911 GI Bill pay for all four years and give the BAH for all four years?

A: The short answers to your questions are “yes” and “no”. Yes, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay for four years of college. With 36 months of benefits, it is enough for four 9-month academic years of school.

Under this GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition directly to your school. Monthly, you get a housing allowance and once per semester, you also get a book stipend; it calculates out at $41.67 per credit up to the $1,000 yearly maximum, which is generally enough for two 12-credit semester per school year.

No, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would not pay you BAH for all four years, because the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not pay BAH – it pays a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA); it is entirely different than the BAH you are accustomed to while serving in the military.

While the MHA is based in part on the Department of Defense Travel Tables (BAH calculator), much more goes into the calculation, such as your Post 9/11 GI Bill tier level and the number of credits you are taking. Another difference is BAH pays twice a month, where the MHA pays only once a month and usually a month in arrears.

So in the end, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay you MHA, not BAH, for the full four years you are in school, although the New GI Bill does not pay break pay anymore since the GI Bill 2.0 update in 2011, so you do not get paid when you are not in school.

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