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When Is a Good Time to Switch from the Old to the New GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used one year of MGIB to get my master’s degree. I still have two years left and am eligible for the bonus Post 9/11 GI Bill year. When I try to apply my MGIB to my new PHD program, do I have to submit all the paperwork again from scratch, or is there a shorter way since my eligibility was already proven? Also, when I add the Post 9/11 GI Bill year, can I coordinate that ahead of time, or will there be downtime where my MGIB runs out, and I am still waiting for the Post 9/11 to kick in? Thanks.

A: Since your eligibility is already established, you will just have to submit VA Form 22-1990. You can do that either online at the VONAPP Website or download the form and send it in according to the instructions on the form.

The VA can see that you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so there shouldn’t be a lag. The way it usually works is if you run out of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits mid-term, the VA will “loan” you the months and days you need to get to the end of a term and then take that amount of time out of your 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement. So when you see your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement, it would be less than the 12 months, because of the paying back the amount loaned to you.

I would be really careful about trying to pre-coordinate the change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The VA may mis-interpret your request as switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and only give you the same number of months you had left on your MGIB, instead of you requesting your additional months of entitlement. If you use up your MGIB first and then send in your request, it should go smooth and flow from one GI Bill to the other without an interruption of benefits.

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