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Will the Post 9/11 GI Bill Reimburse Me the $3,500 I Put into My Tuition?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m really curious, I applied for student loans as well to kind of just have in my savings in case I really needed money, and the student loans processed through first, clearing my tuition. The student loan covered $3,500 and banked the other $1,500. Will the GI Bill reimburse me the $3,500 I put in?

A: Well technically, you didn’t put in the $3,500; your student loans paid your tuition directly to your school. What many people don’t know is that the GI Bill is the last payer, so they pay whatever is left after all other forms of financial aid have paid their portions.

Because your student loans paid all of your tuition, there was nothing left for the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay, except for your monthly housing allowance and book stipend once per semester (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

You would have been much better off, just using your Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you attend a public school, it would have paid up to the resident tuition rate. If you attend a private school, it would have paid up to $19,198.31 per year.

If your school was a Yellow Ribbon school, you could have used that program to help pay for tuition that exceeded what the New GI Bill would pay – public school non-resident or that amount over the private school cap.

A better plan would have been to apply for non-tuition specific scholarships. That way the money goes to you or to your school account and is not applied towards tuition. However, if you get tuition fenced scholarships, then you would have been in the same boat as you are in now as they get applied first toward tuition. The nice thing with scholarships and grants is they do not have to be repaid as with loans.

Most of the time, student loans should be your last choice for financial aid.

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