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Will My Boyfriend Get the Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance If He Attends School Full-time?

Q: Hi Ron, my bf is getting out of the Navy in July. He plans on staying in this state with me and go to college. He was TOLD that he would get BAH for housing as long as he was a full-time student. I’ve been getting different answers on that subject. He’s counting on his BAH to fund where he’s going to live as I live with my parents so I can’t help him out. Upon reading various things, I am now worried he won’t have a place to live. Is there any way he can be prioritized to get it sooner? Should he apply for unemployment rights when he gets out so he some money coming to him? Does he even qualify for it?

A: I’m not an unemployment rights expert, so I won’t even attempt you make a recommendation, however, we can talk about his GI Bill options.

First, let’s clarify terminology – the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not pay BAH, it pays a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). There is a big difference between the two, such as:
• BAH is paid twice a month where the MHA is once per month while in school.
• BAH is based on the zip code of residence while MHA is on the zip code of the school.
• BAH is based on servicmember’s pay grade where MHA is paid at the E-5 with dependents pay grade regardless of the servicmemeber’s actual pay grade at the time of getting out.
• And many other differences.
So you can see that talking about one, when you really mean the other, can be confusing.

If he goes to school full-time, and he has served for at least three years on active duty after September 10, 2001, he would be eligible for the maximum MHA authorized for the zip code of his school. If he served less than three years, then he would get a percentage of the full amount based on the length of his eligible service.

The best advice I can give is for him to have banked at least enough money to get him by for a couple of months. The VA is getting better at reducing the number of days from application of benefits to actually paying the student, so he may not even need the full two months, but to have it would give him a cushion and peace of mind to carry him though until his Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance starts coming.

Once he has his DD214 in hand, he should go to his school’s VA Certifying Official and get immediately certified (which will then allow him to enroll as a GI Bill student). His actual Certificate of Eligibility will follow later. This will get things moving as fast as possible. The VA does not have a prioritization system; this will get things going about as fast as they can move.

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