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When I Return from Deployment, Will I Be Able to Convert My One Year of Chapter 30 to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Q: I used all my Chapter 1606 GI Bill for my Bachelor’s Degree. I was later hired into the AGR program and paid $1,200 for one year of the Chapter 30 GI Bill. I am now deployed to Afghanistan. When I return home, will I be able to convert that one year of Chapter 30 to Post 9/11 GI Bill? Would it even be feasible if I am still AGR? If the biggest benefit of Post 9/11 is the housing allowance, if I am AGR, I already receive BAH, so I’m wondering if it would even make sense for me to convert. I am enrolled in law school at the University of Akron in Akron, OH and am already using the Federal Tuition Assistance (or at least I was before I deployed), so I am just trying to figure out the best way to maximize my benefits. Thank you!

A: In your scenario, I don’t think it would not make sense to switch. If you have served for at least three years total between the AGR program and being deployed, you would get $1,473 per month for 12 months to go to school under Chapter 30 – the Montgomery GI Bill, but out of that amount, you have to pay the balance on your tuition and books after FTA pays its portion.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your remaining tuition after FTA pays would be paid for by the VA directly to your school and you would get the book stipend of about $41.67 per credit per semester (up to the $1,000 per year limit).

So let’s run some numbers. Let’s assume law school costs $400 per credit, books are $500 per semester, you are taking 12 credits each semester and FTA pays up to $250 per credit or up to $4,500 per year. So in your first semester of an academic year, FTA will pay $3,000 out of the $4,800 for a difference of $1,800. Chapter 30 would pay you $5,892, so if you subtract out $500 for books, you would end up with a net gain of about $3,593 for that first semester.

The second semester will be slightly different in that you will hit your $4,500 FTA maximum. Chapter 30 will still pay you $5,892, but your tuition expenses not paid for by FTA would be $3,300 plus the $500 for books for a total of $3,800 leaving you with a net of $2,092.

Under that same scenario for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, The VA would pay the $2,300 and $3,800 respectively between tuition and books per semester, but that is all you would get. So Chapter 30 would be more lucrative in your case.

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