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Will the Post 9/11 GI Bill Pay for a Second Bachelor’s Degree?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in the Army in September of 2008 for 4 years with the SLRP. I understand that I would qualify for 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I would like to go back to school in August of 2012 when my terminal leave begins. Can I apply for benefits before my September ETS date to ensure payment for the fall semester? Also my degree is in Political Science and I am enrolling for a second bachelors in Chemical Engineering. Will the GI Bill cover that?

A: You are correct that you will get 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Your first three years did not count toward GI Bill eligibility, due to the three-year obligation you incurred when you opted for SLRP.

As far as when is the best time to apply so you can get paid in the fall semester of 2012, anytime from now up through the end of the spring semester would be fine. It can take up to 10 weeks to get your Certificate of Eligibility (CoE), so that would give you the summer to get it. You will need that certificate when you enroll in school as a GI Bill student. To request your CoE, submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website.

The whole key to getting paid on time lies with how prompt your school submits their paperwork to the VA. Once you register, they have to send in (with your CoE) a Certificate of Enrollment. The VA has to process the paperwork first, before they can process payment – so the later your school submits their paperwork, the longer it takes to get your first check.

Make friends immediately with your school VA Certifying Official. Every school has at least one and that person can be a big help in avoiding issues with using your Post 9/11 GI Bill. Because you did not use your GI Bill to get your first degree, the VA will pay GI Bill benefits to get your second degree.

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