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Will My Son Get His Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance Between Semesters?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My step-son is attending school and using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once he has completed his first semester and what we are wondering is will there be a break in his housing allowance between when this semester ends and the next one begins. He won’t be in school for a full month and the Summer Semester doesn’t start until later in June? Will there be a long waiting period for the first check after the new semester starts like there was at the beginning of this semester, or will the checks continue on a monthly basis? Also, what will happen over the summer? I know he will not get his housing allowance if he isn’t in school, so we are wondering the same thing, will there be a long delay after the Summer session starts?

A: Before the 2011 GI Bill 2.0 update, students did get break or interval pay, however under that update, it was negotiated away in exchange for some other benefits. And it makes sense – why would the VA pay students while they were not in school? However, on the flip side, having break pay did add some stability to a student’s cash flow where as now, they don’t have that constant income coming in.

As you noted, at the beginning of a semester, there is a significant delay before the student sees his/her first Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance (MHA) and book stipend payment. But then for the rest of the months in that semester, the pay usually comes around the same time each month. However, the process starts all over again with the start of each new semester.

But with the implementation of the VA’s Long Term Solution software with its 80-plus business rules, the VA says the first month wait time has been reduced down to about 24 days with successive months down to 6 days. That is down significantly from the 8 to 10 weeks previous new semester wait time.

One question I get asked about summer sessions is that usually a lower number of credits are still considered full-time. Many wonder if they will still get the full-time MHA rate and the answer is yes. Most schools reduce the credit load per summer session, but still are authorized to report it as full-time to the VA. For example, each summer session might be 6 credits long, but there are two sessions per summer semester, so in the end, the rate of pursuit is the same as any other semester.

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