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Which GI Bill Should I Use for Graduate School?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to start Grad school and I’m trying to decide which program I should use. I was informed that I was allowed to start my Montgomery GI Bill and later switch over to the Post 9/11. Can you provide me the benefits of using both programs?

A: Let’s look at the money aspect first between the two GI Bills. If you use your Montgomery GI Bill, all you would get is one payment per month – up to $1,648 – for up to 36 months. Out of that amount, you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc.

By using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would have three sources of income – your tuition is paid by the VA directly to your school, monthly you get a housing allowance and once per semester, you get a book stipend. Now let’s break down each of these payment streams.

If you attend a public school, the VA pays your tuition in full up to the resident rate. Attend a private school and they would pay up to $19,198.31 per year. If you have to pay non-resident tuition or your private school tuition is more than what the VA can pay, then you either have to pay the difference out of pocket or use the Yellow Ribbon Program if eligible.

Housing Allowance
If you are attending classes on campus, your monthly housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. However, if you are doing your Grad school online, then you are limited to the maximum of $714.50 per month – about half of what you would otherwise get if you are attending classes (even one class) on campus.

Book Stipend
This calculates out at $41.67 per credit per semester and there is a $1,000 cap per academic year. However, this is usually enough for a couple of 12-credit semesters per year.

Now let’s talk entitlement. Under the MGIB, you get up to 36 months of entitlement. If you would switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get that same 36 months of entitlement, however, use up your 36 months of MGIB first and then switch, you get an additional 12 months of benefits.

Because you only need a couple of years to complete your grad school, I would recommend switching right away. Plus when you have used up the last of your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you get your $1,200 contribution fee back. Sweet!

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