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With My Remaining Months of Benefits, Which Is Better – the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m a retired USAF member having served from 1983 to Dec 2004. I’m currently using my Montgomery GI Bill Chapter 30 in a OJT program. I have used 24 month’s worth of benefits under this program and want to go to school. I’m just wondering how many months of benefits I have left and what program should I use, the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post 9/11 Bill?

A: If you have already used up 24 months of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) entitlement, then you only have 12 months left to use (and only about 13 months left to use it I might add). So you have a couple of choices.

You can either finish using up your 12 months of MGIB entitlement and switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill (and get an additional 12 months of entitlement along with an additional 5 years to use it), or you can switch right away and get the same number of months of entitlement as you had under the MGIB and get the additional 5 years of time to use your benefits. However, you would not get the additional 12 months of entitlement.

So what is the real difference between the two? By switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now, you can:
• take advantage of the additional time you would have to use up your remaining 12 months of benefits
• get 1/3rd of your MGIB contribution fee back once you have used up your 12 months of benefits
• have the VA pay your tuition directly to your school – you have to pay your own tuition under the MGIB
• get a monthly housing allowance that would be almost the same as your MGIB payment
• get a book stipend each semester (up to the $1,000 per year cap).

If you use up your remaining MGIB benefits now and then switch, you would still get the last three item on the above list, along with an additional 12 months of benefits, but you would not get any of your MGIB Contribution Fee back.

If you need the additional time, then I would recommend using the first option.

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