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With Service in the Active Duty and Reserve Components, Which GI Bill Can I Use?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was active duty Army from 1985-87, enrolled in MGIB and paid my $1,200. In 1988 I joined the Reserves but due to circumstances I wasn’t able to satisfy the attendance requirement. I’m not sure about my discharge. Fast forward to 2009, I went active duty again however recruiter told me due to prior service I had to dis-enroll for education benefits. I completed 4 more years on active duty ETS’ing in 2013. I joined the Reserves again and still attend drills. The question I have is what education benefit will I be eligible for?

A: You’ll have benefits under both the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Post 9/11 GI Bill and possibly the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR).

Even though the MGIB-AD has a 10-year shelf life, and your original start date would have been when you first got out in 1987, the date resets itself if you enlist for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order, meaning your date started over again with your 2013 ETS. That is also your start date for your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, but you have up to 15 years to use it.

And while you have benefits under two GI Bills and possibly three, note that under the Rule of 48, the most number of combined months of entitlement you can get is 48 months.

The way to get all 48 months is to first use up your 36 months of MGIB-AD, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get your additional 12 months totaling 48. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB-AD benefits left, then all you’ll get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months you had left under the MGIB-AD and not the additional 12 months of entitlement.

And you could do that – give up your MGIB-AD and use all 36 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but you may also have one other option.

If you also have the MGIB-SR, you could give up that GI Bill, use those 36 months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and then use up your final 12 months under the MGIB-AD. The advantage to doing it this way is that the Post 9/11 GI Bill in most cases pays a lot more than the MGIB-AD.

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