Post-9/11 GI Bill vs Montgomery GI Bill

“They told me the Post-9/11 GI Bill was way better, so I gave up my MGIB.”

Having spent most of the last two years as a Veterans Administration (VA) School Certifying Official (SCO), I heard this phrase a lot from newly minted veterans and servicemembers about to make the transition. Generally, “they” were right. While the traditional MGIB only pays a stipend, the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays a stipend plus tuition and fees (at the in state rate) and up to $1000 per year for books. However, there are situations when the MGIB is a better deal and making that irreversible decision without having all the facts could potentially cause you to lose out on up to $14,000. (Yes, I said $14,000.)

So, when should you hang on to your MGIB? Before I answer that, let me just say that what I am going to list below are some situations where the traditional MGIB might be better than the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, each veteran’s service record and individual situation can affect which is the better option and you should fully research the options using the VA’s official education website (www.gibill.va.gov) and call the VA education line at 1-888-442-4551 with any specific questions pertaining to your individual case. Now that I’ve given the required “don’t blame me” qualifier, here are some scenarios:

1)      You plan to join the Guard or Reserves after leaving Active Duty: Federal regulations require than an individual who qualifies for more than one VA education benefit give one up in order to accept the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. However, contrary to rumor, it does not have to be the MGIB that is given up. Guard and Reserve members can qualify for educational benefits called the Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) and/or Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). These individuals may opt to give up one of these benefits instead. Electing to give up one of these and keep your MGIB could net you up to an additional $14,000 since MGIB-SR and REAP don’t pay that much. (Full details on MGIB-SR and REAP will be explained in tomorrow’s blog.)

2)      You plan to take all your classes online: Under the Post-9/11 rules, at least one undergraduate class per term must be taken in a “brick-and-mortar” setting (aka fully on campus) in order to receive the full housing allowance. Taking all online or a combination between online and hybrid classes significantly reduces the housing allowance for Post-9/11 students.

For example, let’s say you are living in zip code 93950 (Pacific Grove, CA), are 100% Post-9/11 eligible and are taking a full time load with at least one traditional, residential class. Your housing allowance would be $1920 a month. If, however, you take a full load of online only or online/hybrid classes, your housing would be only $714.50 a month.

If you use the MGIB in this situation, you would receive $1662, regardless of whether you are taking online or residential classes. Of course, if you use the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you also get tuition and fees paid for and a book stipend so you’ll need to do the math to determine which scenario is more beneficial for you personally. Which brings me to my next scenario.

3)      You have another way to pay for your tuition and fees: A lot of students are under the impression that if they get a VA education benefit, they don’t qualify for any other aid. That is incorrect. VA education benefits are special and are excluded from many of the rules that prevent double dipping, to use a term we are all familiar with. If you qualify for a scholarship or other federal aid, you can use those to pay for your tuition and fees, and in some cases books, and still receive your VA benefits. If you have other resources to cover tuition and fees and books, then you should compare the Post-9/11 housing allowance for your area and determine if it is higher than the $1662 MGIB stipend. (Post-9/11 housing rates are based on the active duty, E-5 with dependents rate for the zip code of your school.)

4)      You plan on attending school only part time: In order to receive any housing allowance from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must be attending at more than 50% “rate of pursuit.” That’s a VA term that basically means you have to go more than half time (for general undergraduate credits on a semester term that works out to 7 credits or more per term). Most undergraduate classes are only 3 credits each. Therefore, you generally have to take 3 classes to get any pay under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under the MGIB, however, you only have to attend half time to get any housing. So, if you plan on only taking two classes at a time, and they are each 3 credits, you would get a prorated stipend under MGIB but no housing at all under Post-9/11.

5)      You didn’t serve long enough on active duty to qualify for Post-9/11 at the 100% rate: To fully qualify for MGIB, you must have served 36 months or more (not counting basic and AIT/tech school, as any time DoD paid for you to train does not count as far as VA is concerned). If you leave before the 36 month mark, you may have the option to pay the rest of the money into the MGIB and come out with, for example, two years of full MGIB benefits.

If, however, you leave active duty before hitting that same 36 month mark for Post-9/11, you will be rated at less than 100%. Let’s say you served 11 months. That puts you at a 50% rating for Post-9/11 (the full percentage scale can be found on the VA’s GI Bill webpage). Using the example of the 93950 housing stipend from earlier, you would get $960 a month if you were going full time on campus, plus $500 a year for books, and half of your tuition and fees paid for. Again, it comes down to doing the numbers and seeing which benefits you more.

6)      You served long enough to qualify for both MGIB and Post-9/11: If you served more than 36 months (not counting basic and AIT/tech school, as listed above) and you paid into the MGIB, you may qualify for both benefits. Under federal regulation, you can use a combination of VA education benefits, up to 48 months total (with one exception, which pertains to dependents and will be discussed later this week). If you qualify for and use all 36 months of your MGIB, you can get an additional year of Post-9/11 at whatever percentage you qualify. So, for example, if you served 48 months, you could get full MGIB for 36 months, and then 12 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill at approximately the 60% rate.

One thing to be careful of if you choose this route - you need to be sure that you use every last day of your MGIB before switching over to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you switch over before you have exhausted your MGIB benefit, you only get as many days of Post-9/11 benefit as you had left of MGIB. Even if you have one day of MGIB left, you would only get one day of Post-9/11, instead of 12 months.

Have I confused you yet? As with everything else government related, there are tiny print rules and weird loopholes that can greatly impact your benefits so doing your homework to make sure you are maximizing the benefits you earned is important. If you need more guidance than I provided here, feel free to write a comment or drop me an e-mail and I will try to answer. Also, I recommend exploring the VA website and/or contacting the call center. You can also try calling the college/university you are thinking of attending directly and ask to speak to the School Certifying Official.

© 2013 - 2014, After the DD-214. All rights reserved.

35 thoughts on “Post-9/11 GI Bill vs Montgomery GI Bill

  1. aden

    Hi Captain!
    Glad I found your post.
    I was just accepted by my three years master degree program but Im confusing which benefit should I use.
    Im currently in active duty for 18months and I know that will give me 60% of 9/11 Gi Bill benefit. Lets say if I initiate my 9/11 Gi Bill at the this moment (which is 60%). Would the rate raise along with my year of service? for instance: I receive 60% or the benefit at the 18months mark now, then the benefit will automatically increase to 100%while I complete my 36months of service?

    If not, does it means that I should better use my MGIB first then use my 9/11 Gi Bill to continue my program?

    Sincerely yours

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Aden,

      There are a number of things to consider here.

      1) If you have only been on active duty for 18 months, then you need to subtract your training (basic or AIT or intelligence officer training, as examples) from your months, in order to determine your percentage eligibility. So, let’s say you’ve served 18 months on active duty, but the first six of those were in “basic or skill training,” then you actually only get to count 12 months towards Post-9/11. You have to hit the 24 month-on-active-duty mark for those to no longer be subtracted from your eligibility determination.

      2) While you are on active duty, you cannot collect the Post-9/11 BAH, since you are already collecting DoD BAH. Therefore, if you elect Post-9/11, you are only looking at the pro-rated tuition and fees amount and the pro-rated books amount. So, if you do qualify at the 60% mark, you get only $600 max for books and then 60% of your tuition and fees paid, up to the in-state max allotted by VA. Is that amount more than the full MGIB amount of $1789 a month? You’ll have to look at your colleges tuition and fee rates and do the math to be able to answer that. (Also, keep in mind that you must serve either 2 or 3 years on active duty before you are eligible to use your MGIB, so take that into consideration as well.)

      3) I can’t answer with 100% certainty your question about the Post-9/11 increasing, as VA and DoD will have to decide that. I can say that most likely, you will have to reapply at the end of every semester (or every time you hit a new percentage increase mark) in order for VA and DoD to reevaluate your percentage eligibility. I did have a couple of Guard and Reserve students who did something similar – they initially applied after some active service, then deployed again, and reapplied after earning that extra active duty time and their percentage was increased accordingly. Whether that works while you are actively using the benefit should be a yes, but I can’t guarantee it.

      4) If you are planning on serving while completing your 3 three master’s program, you may consider tuition assistance, possibly at the same time as collecting MGIB. TA on active duty usually comes with an additional service commitment (generally two years from the end of the last class the military pays for), but it might be worth considering, at least until you earn the full MGIB and/or Post-9/11 benefit.

      5) Keep in mind, if you use MGIB first, you must use every last day of your 36 months before you switch over to Post-9/11 in order to receive the full 12 months of Post-9/11. Otherwise, you only get as many days of Post-9/11 as you have left of MGIB.

      I hope this has helped and please let me know if I didn’t explain something well enough, or if my answers have raised more questions. Best of luck with your studies!

      Sarah

      Reply
  2. Hey,
    So I plan to palace chase into Florida guard to finish my last 2 years of UG school and then I plan to apply to a PA school. I have both my mgib and the post 9/11 benefits. Being in the air guard in Florida allows me to get my tuition paid for which would make the mgib look better for me for my undergraduate
    My question is that do you think that it would be smart for me to use my MGIB for 4 semester to finish my undergraduate then transfer the other 4 semester to the post 9/11 GI Bill to get the tuition for PA school paid for and receive the bah and book stipend?

    Also, do you think it would be beneficial for me to go ahead and use pay money into the “buy up program for the amount of time I plan to use the Montgomery GI Bill. Just to receive the extra $150 a month for the 4 semesters.

    Thank you
    Brandon
    Brandon McCullym

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Brandon,

      There are a number of unanswered questions that make this a little difficult to answer. Instead, let me make a few comments and pose a few questions for you to consider that might make this decision a little easier.

      First, you can’t do 2 years/4 semesters of MGIB and then get 2 years/4 semesters of post-9/11. Either you forfeit your MGIB (or another benefit – I recommend reading my post on education benefits for Guard and Reserve and think about how the Ch 1606 benefit plays into this) and get 36 months of post-9/11–which, if used correctly, can get you through most, if not all, of your undergraduate degree OR you exhaust every day of your 36 month MGIB entitlement and then get an additional 12 months of Post-9/11 entitlement. If you use ANY of your MGIB and then switch to Post-9/11, you only get as many days of Post-9/11 as you had remaining of MGIB. So, if you use 24 months of MGIB and then switch, you will only have 12 more months of Post-9/11, for a total of 36 months of benefits.

      Things to consider:

      – Tuition: How much does the Florida school charge per credit hour? Will TA cover the entire cost? TA covers UP TO 100% of the TA cost, but often only covers about 80% of the cost of any one class, up to a limit of $4,500 per person, per fiscal year (according to the FLNG website). If TA doesn’t pay all of the tuition costs, do you have another way to pay them? Coming off of active duty, you may not immediately qualify for federal financial aid (see my post “Beyond VA Education Benefits” for details on how you might be able to get around that), which means you would have to use some of your money from MGIB to cover the difference, plus cover the cost of books, living expenses, etc.

      So, let’s say you go MGIB and you pick a school that charges $100 per credit hour and you plan to attend full time. That’s 12 credit hours per term at $100 a credit hour–$1200 a term, $2400 for a normal two-term school year. That puts you under the $4,500 tuition assistance limit for Guard. So, assuming the Guard picks up the entire tuition check, that leaves you $1789 (the current, full-time MGIB rate) a month to cover the cost of books ($300-$500 a term), housing, and/or whatever other expenses you have.

      If you use MGIB and choose to go to a school that charges $500 per credit hour, however, you’re looking at $6,000 a term, $12,000 a year. In that case, you max out your TA at the $4,500 point and, without financial aid or a scholarship, you have to cover the other $7,500 plus books and housing. If you are getting $1789 a month and school runs roughly 4 months in a semester, that’s just over $14,000 you’re getting from MGIB over the course of two semesters. If you pay your tuition out of that, you’re left with about $800 a month for books, fees, housing, and other costs.

      Note: These numbers do NOT include the extra $150 a month you would get if you did the Buy Up.

      – BAH: So, let’s assume your tuition and fees are completely covered by TA and some financial aid, then you have to compare your MGIB stipend to the BAH rate for the school to see which is better. If you go to school in Miami, for example, your BAH is roughly around $2,379 a month–about $500 more than your MGIB payment. If you decide to go to school in Gainesville, however, the BAH is about $1269–about $500 less than your MGIB payment. (The BAH rate is based on the E-5 with dependents rate for the zip code of the school.)

      – Buy Up: Assuming you decide to use MGIB, you have to decide whether the Buy Up is worth it. You’re looking at paying in $600, in order to get an extra $150 a month. If you use all 36 months of MGIB, that’s about $5,400 worth of additional monthly payments you’re getting. In that case, the Buy Up is worth it. Even if you use only 12 months of MGIB, that’s still $1800 in extra money. However, if you pay the $600 and then decide NOT to use MGIB and switch entirely to Post-9/11, you forfeit that $600.

      Of course, there are other things to consider, such as: are you going to take all online classes–in which case your BAH rate for Post-9/11 drops significantly and you would have to redo the calculations; how long will it take you to complete PA school, how much does that cost, and does financial aid cover all or part of the tuition costs or can you find a scholarship that would?

      If you want to discuss this in more detail, or you have any questions about anything I wrote here, I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Hope this helps!

      Sarah

      Reply
      1. Hey, thanks for replying to my post. I really appreciate it

        There are a couple corrections I wanted to make.
        The air national guard in florida does not provide TA, Instead they give guard members a full tuition waiver with no cap to public nor private universities. In my case I would be going to University of South Florida in Tampa. BAH would be 1650 if i used the Post 9/11 gi bill.

        I have about 2 years of school remaining to finish my undergrad degree so i wouldn’t be using the full 36 months of my MGIB.

        looking at both scenarios:
        If I used the MGIB for a total of 4 semesters or less to finish up my degree I would recieve $1,939 including the “buy-up” also working part time as a pharmacy tech i say i can get $300 a month for that easy and also my guard check about $250 a month which would give me roughly 2400 a month to pay for food and bills. With tuition covered by the guard tuition waver i will pay for fees and books out of my pocket each semester. But I could also use fasfa and scholarships and grants to help curve those costs so no big deal. not to mention savings.

        Post 9/11
        Would give me 1650 for bah and also up to 1000 for book costs. Also the fees would be covered. Plus $250 for guard and $300 for part time work. Total is most likely more if include the fees and books i would have to pay with the MGIB. But, at the same time i would be wasting the tuition money because my tuition is already paid for by the florida guard. that is why i keep considering using the MGIB for a few semesters first then converting it over.

        post 9/11 has a cap of about 21,000 a year to pay for tuition and fees and i really want to use that when i attend PA school. PA school varies in length from 24-34 months depending on the school. PA school varies in price of course but lets say per year PA school is 15000. I would have it covered if i went to a school whose length is only 2 years if i have two years or 4 semesters worth of benefits left plus a housing stipend and a book stipend.

        So if i used the mGIB for 4 semesters or less then converted it to the post 9/11 when i graduate from Undergrad. Then I could use the maximum benefit from the post 9/11 to pay for PA school. which would in turn leave me to no school debt except for maybe a little from cost of living during pa school just because i probably can’t pay all my bills with Bah return.

        By the time i apply to PA school i don’t plan on being in the guard so my tuition would not be covered for grad school. plus i don’t think the guard covers PA school anyways lol.

        But please tell me your thoughts about the whole process what i may be missing or what could be done better.

        Also i plan to have a good little nest egg of about 20,000 in savings just for emergencies. new Car will be paid off as well after this deployment.

        V/R

        Reply
  3. Dkb

    So i was confused when i used my mgib. I thought it was housing allowance and i used it for rent and bills and never paid anything to the school. Can i get in trouble for this and if so what happens? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Dkb,

      That depends. Did you have another method, such as PELL grant, to pay for your tuition and fees? If you had another way to pay the school, then you can use MGIB for anything else that you need to attend school, including rent and bills. However, if you did not have another way to pay the school, then, yes, you are in a little bit of trouble as you likely have a large outstanding bill with the college that needs to be paid. I recommend you contact the school and make sure you don’t owe them anything, as that could affect your credit down the road.

      Sarah

      Reply
  4. Alex Allison

    I’m thinking of doing an electrical apprenticeship after my contract is up, and it looks like the Montgomery GI Bill would be a better choice for benefits. Any input on this?

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Alex,

      It is a bit difficult to determine which would be more beneficial, based on the information you provided here. I would contact the school and ask to speak to the school certifying official and ask: how many credit hours are required to be full time and how many you can expect to have per term/semester or however they measure their blocks of instruction. This should help you determine whether you will be able to earn Post-9/11 housing allowance during the program or not. I would also ask whether the program qualifies for federal financial aid, as that can help you determine whether you might be able to get your tuition paid through PELL grant, possibly, rather than relying on Post-9/11 or paying it out of your MGIB stipend.

      Also, since you are considering an electrical apprenticeship, I recommend you look into Troops to Trades, as they may have alternate funding you can take advantage of or, at the very least, be able to help you get connected with a job at the completion of your training. http://www.afterthedd214.com/troops-to-trades-scholarships/

      I hope this information is helpful and feel free to e-mail again if you have further questions. Good luck!

      Sarah

      Reply
  5. melissa

    Hi I hope you can answer my question. I was just in basic training and had to make the decision, I wasn’t really informed about all the choices and it seemed as though the MTI was pushing us to not opt out of the MGIB, like I was going to do. I wanted to use the post 911 because my husband did and it makes the most sense to me. Anyway I just went along with it and ended up buying into the MGIB. Since I’m out of basic training and I can actually do some research I am beginning to wonder why anyone would use the MGIB. Does this mean that I can’t use the post 911 like I wanted to? I know it says that I have to use the MGIB completely first before switching to the post 911. I signed for 4 years and plan on getting out afterward. Will I be eligible to use the full 48 months, with only 4 years in, or would I only be able to use the MGIB? This is pretty confusing to me.

    Thanks in Advance!

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Melissa,

      Hooray for your MTI! By encouraging you to pay into MGIB, he gave you something important: options.

      1) If you elect MGIB, you can always change your mind. You do not HAVE to use MGIB before you use Post-9/11. If you prefer to use Post-9/11, you can give up MGIB in favor of Post-9/11. If you do this, you get only 36 months of the Post-9/11. (However, if you use every single day of your Post-9/11, Uncle Sam will then refund the $1200 you paid into MGIB.) If you choose, however, to use MGIB and you also have enough qualifying service for Post-9/11, you can get 36 months of MGIB and then an additional 12 months of Post-9/11.

      2) You can make the decision to give up MGIB at any point, including after you leave the service. I recommend you wait until after you do leave active duty to make this decision, because there are some instances – such as if you join the Guard or Reserves – when you may earn eligibility for a third VA education benefit, and you want to know that before you start giving things up, as it changes your options. One thing to know about giving up MGIB that I mention in my post but always like to reiterate: if you are going to give up MGIB for Post-9/11, you should do so before you use ANY of your MGIB. Otherwise, if you switch after you have started using MGIB, you will only receive as many days of Post-9/11 as you had remaining on your MGIB, rather than the full 36 months.

      3) Basic eligibility for MGIB and Post-9/11 is 3 years of active duty time, generally not counting training time (such as basic), though there’s more fine print about this. For MGIB, you also have to pay in that full $1200. Though there are a lot of caveats, in general, if you serve your four and pay that money, you should be qualified for both and then you just have to decide which to use.

      I know this can be confusing, so please feel free to e-mail me with additional questions, or we can even set up a time to talk, if that’s easier.

      Best of luck in your post-basic life. :)

      Sarah

      Reply
    2. Bob Wicks

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m glad I came across this blog! I am hoping you can answer my question. I have been in contact with other VA officials who are unable to help me.

      I am a Veteran who served 26 years and retired in 2012. I’ve recently been accepted to the UC Davis’s Master Brewer’s Program. This is a difficult program to get into and I’ve been wait listed for 2 years. Prior to retiring I was told I have an additional 12 months of post-9/11 G.I. Bill that I qualified for. After contacting the local VA rep, I was told that I had to use my 3 remaining months of my Montgomery G.I. Bill first. The program, which is VA approved, will cost 16K for a six month program. In order to pay for this I would need to access my post 9/11 G.I. Bill. I was also counting on the housing allowance to help me pay for my expenses. Here are my questions…

      — Is it true that I have to use up my MGIB benefits before I can access my post 9/11 G.I. Bill? If so, am I able to just forfeit the three months that I have left of MGIB so I can use the full benefit of my P911GIB?
      — Can I enroll for a separate class (any class) using the MGIB now prior to starting this program in three weeks and will this suffice as using it?
      — Am I able to apply for a waiver? Is there any way around this so that my tuition can be fully paid. I am under a time crunch as I am to commit by the 18th and start class on the 26th of January. This program is only offered once a year and I would hate to miss an opportunity over a technicality.

      If none of this works, do you know of any scholarship programs that can fill in the gap for an Afghan combat disabled Vet (80% unemployability). The VA reps at UC Davis were no help (quoted off a VA website).

      Thanks so much for any help you can provide.

      Bob

      Reply
      1. Captain

        Post author

        Bob,

        Unfortunately, what you were told is correct. In order to get the additional 12 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must first exhaust every single day of your MGIB. If you transfer over to Post-9/11 before exhausting your MGIB, you will only qualify for three months of Post-9/11 (the same amount as the MGIB entitlement you have remaining). And there is no way to simply forfeit your MGIB time in order to go directly to Post-9/11, nor do you have time to exhaust your MGIB on other classes before starting the program.

        Your options would be:

        – To start the program under MGIB and switch to Post-9/11 once you have exhausted Post-9/11. This may not be a bad option if you (and the program) are eligible for federal financial aid, such as PELL grant, which does not need to be paid back. I would recommend you fill out your FAFSA (https://fafsa.ed.gov/) as well as make an appointment with the school’s financial aid office and see what information they may be able to provide you on supplemental funding sources.

        – Look into Vocational Rehabilitation. Because you have an 80% rating, you may qualify for this. You can apply through ebenefits. Getting it turned around in 3 weeks time will be tight, assuming you are approved, but it might be worth a shot. If you were approved for voc rehab, they pay full tuition and fees, as well as books, exam fees, and other costs. Also, if you get accepted into voc rehab and have Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility, you can choose to elect the Post-9/11 housing rate while you are in the program. Just a note: you would need to demonstrate that there is a job market for this qualification and that this position would not aggravate your disabilities, so you might want to gather that information before meeting with a voc rehab counselor.

        – Talk to the school about delaying entry until next year without losing your slot. This is not an ideal solution, I realize. However, if you truly cannot afford to pursue the degree without your Post-9/11 GI Bill, then postponing the class would give you time to exhaust your MGIB before starting the class and/or get the voc rehab process completed. Additionally, it would give you extra time to look into PELL grant and/or apply for some of these scholarships (http://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/scholarships/outside/agricultural.html), which might be applicable to the program.

        Unfortunately, I don’t know of any other financial aid that would be available on such short notice.

        Sorry I can’t be more help,

        Sarah

        Reply
  6. Cheleh Wleh

    I’ve served for 41 months, and getting out. Can I use the my MGIB and also get the 60%?

    2. When can I switch from from MGIB to Post 9/11?

    3. Let’s say my home of record is Massachusetts, but I want to attend the University of Kentucky, what BAH am I getting, MA or KY?

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Cheleh Wleh,

      If you qualify for both MGIB and Post-9/11 GI Bill, you can EITHER:

      1) Give up MGIB in order to get 36 months of Post-9/11 at the 60% rate OR

      2) Use ALL 36 months of your MGIB (every last day) and then elect an additional year of Post-9/11 at the prorated rate.

      If you start using MGIB and then choose to switch to Post-9/11, you will only receive as many days of Post-9/11 as you have remaining of your MGIB.

      You may switch from MGIB to Post-9/11 at any time. However, based on the above, I recommend you either do it AFTER exhausting your MGIB or before you use ANY MGIB.

      Home of record will no longer apply once you are off active duty (I recommend you read my post on Home of Record vs Residency regarding this). Instead, states will have to comply with the Choice Act regarding in-state tuition rates for veterans. You can find which states are in compliance here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/702.asp

      In regards to BAH, that is always based on the zip code of the school you are attending.

      I hope this has answered your questions. Please let me know if I can answer anything else for you.

      Sarah

      Reply
      1. Cheleh Wleh

        Sarah, I appreciate your reply. It explains nearly everything I wanted to know.

        One thing I’m still stock at is SWITCHING between the post 9/11 and the MGIB.
        If I understood you well, If one wants to use both benefits, MGIB/Post 9/11, the MGIB should be the first to use right?

        Reason why I want to use the post 9/11 first is that, I’m not sure if I will get a job immediately after I get out, so the E-5 BAH will be a good starting point for 36 months, and, it also covers all educational needs, like books, pays all tuition and the BAH..
        But MGIB gives you certain amount per year, and that’s it.
        So, after the 36 months of post 9/11, what other choice(s) I have to complete my B.S?

        Reply
        1. Captain

          Post author

          Cheleh Wleh,

          If you only qualify for MGIB and Post-9/11, you have no option but to use the MGIB first. If you elect to use Post-9/11 first, you lose MGIB.

          The only way you may be able to use Post-9/11 first is if you also qualify for another VA education benefit. For example, if you switch from active duty to reserves and become eligible for Ch 1606. You can then give up 1606 in order to elect Post-9/11 and then you can use Post-9/11 or MGIB.

          A couple of things I want to clarify about Post-9/11: It pays all of the in-state tuition rate for required classes for your chosen degree up to an annual cap. If you are charged out-of-state fees or take a non-required class or exceed your cap, then you are responsible for covering the rest of the charges. Also, the book stipend is capped at $1000 per academic year (Aug-Jul).

          Most importantly, if you only qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 60% rate, then all of the benefits related to Post-9/11 – tuition, books, housing – are pro-rated to 60%. For example, instead of the $1000 book stipend, which veterans who qualify at the 100% rate would get, you would only get up to $600 an academic year. You would have to do the math to determine whether the Post-9/11 is still the better deal over the MGIB.

          Also, the 36 months is actually measured in days and you are only charged for the days you are actually enrolled in class. So, if you only attend school 265 days in a year, for example, then the extra 100 days will count towards your next school year. Which means it may be possible to finish a four year degree within those 36 months of entitlement, if you are careful with your benefits. Regardless of which benefit you choose – MGIB, Post-9/11, or MGIB and then Post-9/11, I recommend all undergraduate students complete their FAFSA and see if they qualify for the PELL grant. This is money that does not need to be paid back and can be used in conjunction with your VA education benefits. (You can find out more about FAFSA, PELL grant, and other possible income streams during college by reading my posts Beyond VA Education Benefits http://www.afterthedd214.com/beyond-va-education-benefits/ and the Pathways Programs http://www.afterthedd214.com/pathways-programs/)

          Let me know if you have more questions,

          Sarah

          Reply
  7. Kat Barajas

    Good afternoon. I just wanted to say thank you so much for this detailed comparison between the two. I am a spouse, and my husband I are currently taking the TGPS course. We are unsure of when we will be separating from the military, so we are trying to obtain as much information as we can. Your website has definitely been the most helpful. I’ll make sure to reference this page to other servicemembers.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Kat,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave such positive feedback. And I am glad I could help make the transition to civilian life easier for you and your husband.

      Sarah

      Reply
  8. Myranda Basso

    My husband is currently serving in the Navy and qualifies for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. We were wondering if there would be a way we could utilize both bills in order to put both of us through college?

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Myranda,

      If you are talking a full, four-year undergraduate program for each of you, then no, unfortunately. If, for example, you already have an AA degree or he can earn his AA using tuition assistance and won’t need all his Post-9/11, then he could transfer some of that to you in order for you both to be complete your degrees. However, if he decides to do that, then he has to give up him Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) in order to elect Post-9/11 and he will lose the MGIB benefit and he will also incur an additional service commitment.

      Since he is still on active duty, I would recommend he look into tuition assistance and for you to look into MyCAA and see if those programs can provide you with education benefits. If you have some time before he leaves active duty, I would also look into scholarships for veterans and military spouses, including those at whatever accredited college is closest to you at the moment, and CLEP testing – which would allow you or your husband to test out of certain classes. If you know which college you both want to attend, I would also have your husband apply for admission and ask them to evaluate his Joint Services Transcript, to see which of his military credits might transfer, which should also help you determine exactly how many credits he would need to complete his degree.

      I hope this helps give you some options. If you have more questions, or want to talk about the specific programs or schools you are considering, please send me a note from the contact page and we can always e-mail or talk and see if we can come up with some more ideas.

      Sarah

      Reply
  9. Steve Duffy

    Everyone retiring should be aware that they must designated Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to go to dependents no later than 4 years prior to your anticipated retirement date. Also, simply filling out the transfer online may not be sufficient – each service may require documentation (I am Navy, so it was a Page 13 entry) prior to the transfer or it will be rejected. In my case, I did not go back and check until two years prior to retirement, when I discovered that the Navy form had not been completed and my transfer had not occurred. I will still have the Montgomery GI bill benefit, but my kids could use the money more than me, so I am regretting this mistake as I will now have to get creative as to how I utilize and get what I can out of this benefit. Bottom line: read and heed all directives, follow up to ensure everything has been properly submitted and make paper and/or electronic (.pdf) copies of all documents. Thousands of dollars of your benefits are at stake!

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Steve,

      Thank you for your comment. You are correct for the most part – the 4 year rule does not apply to those who are not, by regulation, able to extend that long (for example, those have been passed over for promotion and cannot extend beyond their approved retirement date). For the most part, though, it is important for servicemembers to understand that the transfer of eligibility part of Post-9/11 is, generally speaking, a recruiting and retention tool. As with most education benefits connected to your military service, there is usually a carrot and a stick, and that stick is usually an additional service commitment.

      Additionally, as you mentioned, it is not enough to simply put in the application. This applies to all military and VA education benefits (or any other benefits, for that matter). Trust but verify and do the homework. There are individuals out there to help veterans but, ultimately, it is up to the veteran to take the initiative to learn what they qualify for and then make sure that they get that.

      I am interested that you say you still have the Montgomery GI Bill, and not the Post-9/11 – if the transfer didn’t go through, you should still have Post-9/11 for yourself. If that isn’t what you’ve been told, please let me know and I’d be happy to discuss that with you offline.

      Sarah

      Reply
  10. Letty Garcia

    Captain,

    Great job on the article, it is very helpful. I am a reservist but I was active for a two and a half. I am planning on going to school full time, I am debating weather I should use Chapter 1607 (I was deployed) or the Post 911. I live in Dallas, TX my ZIP code is 75211. Thank you in advance.

    Letty Garcia

    Reply
  11. damon

    Sara help! (side note- this is prob one of the best posts i have seen on the differences in benefits available to service members) better than the VA site, thats for sure….

    hopefully i don’t lose you-

    i qualify as you stated under #6 i served AD from 95-08 got out for 30 days came back in to the reserves on a 1 year contract and accepted an AGR position in 08 since 08 i have been on AD. Still am.

    Im trying to make the decision to apply for MGIB over the Post 9/11. mainly because I’m still AD and will be taking fully online classes. a few questions no one can seem to answer for me or get me to the right spot are as follows:
    1. as an AGR i am eligible for Reserve TA, i am assuming i can apply for TA and the MGIB together. is this correct?

    2. just to clarify- if i can’t use the Reserve TA and do not qualify for financial aid, taking the MGIB would ONLY give me the monthly payment correct? and then if i needed to i could apply for “top-up” to pay for tuition? in this specific case, it would give me less money monthly in my pocket as opposed to taking the election and going post 9-11?

    3. referes to your first point. No one seems to be able to tell me if i am eligible for the reserve Gibill since i haven’t fully executed a 6 year reserve contract. although i am on an “indef” now and AGR. The only reason i care is this is the benefit i would give up. How can i figure this out?

    hopefully this all makes sense. Thank you in advanced for any light you can shed on this situation.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Damon,

      Well, that is some question! I will attempt to answer it all here. If I can’t, I will also e-mail you and we can continue the discussion offline.

      1) Actually, DoD policy prohibits servicemembers from receiving MGIB for the same classes for which they are receiving federal TA. You can apply one or the other to a specific class UNLESS you use top-up, in which case the VA would pay the difference above what TA covers. HOWEVER, AGR personnel are not authorized to use top-up. DoD’s rules, however, apply to FEDERAL TA – Guard members may be eligible for state TA – here in Florida it is called EDD (Education Dollars for Duty), which does not fall under the same rules. Contact your unit education officer to determine if state TA is available and, if so, if you are eligible for it.

      2) MGIB does pay the monthly stipend directly to you and you would have to pay your tuition and fees out of that money. Most likely, Post-9/11 would be a better financial choice, since it would cover the tuition and fees, up to the limit, as well as housing and a book stipend. However, if you were taking classes online, for example, MGIB might be the better choice – hard to say for sure without looking at how you plan to take your classes, how many of them you plan to take in a semester, the housing allowance for your area, etc.

      Also, I suggest filling out the FAFSA, even if you think you won’t qualify for financial aid, since it is often required in order to qualify for school-based aid, need grants, or scholarships.

      3) To qualify for MGIB-SR, also called Chapter 1606, generally requires “a 6-year obligation” and to be in good standing with your unit. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about how AGR works to know if you’ve met that requirement. My recommendation would be to either contact your unit education officer, since they are usually responsible for providing this type of information to VA for verification of eligibility, (I would also ask them about your eligibility for REAP/Ch 1607) or simply go onto ebenefits and apply for it and see what VA says.

      While you are in there, I would also apply for MGIB (but NOT Post-9/11). It won’t hurt anything to apply for both and VA will then evaluate your records and tell you if you qualify for one or both benefits, at which point you can then decide which, if any, benefit you would like to give up in order to receive Post-9/11. One thing you can do on your own is to talk to finance to determine if you paid the $1200 required to qualify for MGIB. (Unlike the other benefits, which are based largely on service and character of discharge, MGIB requires that servicemembers pay this amount, generally taken out in $100 increments over your first 12 months of service, in order to earn MGIB benefits.)

      I hope this has clarified some of your questions, or at least given you a place to start to find answers. If there is anything else I can answer for you, please let me know.

      Sarah

      Reply
  12. Jason Parks

    Hello,

    I had a question regarding #6 in your list. I was just recently medically retired and have been using my MGIB for the past several months. I made the decision not to switch to the post 9/11 until I had a firm grasp on both the benefits.

    I’m just trying to understand #6 a little more clearly. I served for 10 years, so if I am understanding you correctly, I can keep my MGIB, exhaust every day of it, and still obtain 12 months of the post 9/11 at the 60% rate? I just wanted to ask that question directly.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Jason,

      The short answer is: yes. You can use all 36 months of your MGIB and then switch to Post-9/11 for another 12 months, as long as you have enough service for both (I’d have to look at your DD-214 to be able to tell you for sure, but it sounds like you do have enough service). However, it wouldn’t necessarily be 60% of Post-9/11 that you qualify for. That would depend on how many months of service you have. If you were in for 10 years and if all of it was post-9/11 time, you may even qualify for 12 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill at 100%.

      If you were medically retired, I also suggest you look into voc rehab. If you get approved for voc rehab, you could get up to 48 months of that (minus however many months you have used of MGIB) and, if you qualify for Post-9/11, you could get the Post-9/11 housing allowance rate during that time. If you are interested in pursuing that route, check out my post on Vocational Rehabilitation and be sure to talk to your voc rehab specialist about how the MGIB impacts your housing and don’t apply for (VA calls it “electing”) Post-9/11 until after you get approved for voc rehab.

      I know that’s a lot so, if you’re still confused, pop me an e-mail and we can always talk it over further.

      Sarah

      Reply
  13. Chris Reicherts

    Good information on your article with Post 9/11 GI Bill vs Montgomery GI Bill. Heres my question, can i use my Montgomery GI bill, then shortly after use my full 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Chris,

      Unfortunately, no. You can use a max of 48 months total of veterans education benefits. If you want to use Montgomery GI Bill and Post-9/11, and those are the only two options you have (meaning, you aren’t in the Guard or Reserves or you don’t qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation), then you either have to use ALL, every last day, of your Montgomery GI Bill and then you can receive another 12 months of Post-9/11. Or, you give up Montgomery GI Bill and elect 36 months of Post-9/11 and then you are out of benefits. If you choose to use both and you switch over to Post-9/11 before you have used every last day of Montgomery, you will ONLY received as many days of Post-9/11 as you had left of Montgomery – so this part is very important. If this is confusing or if you aren’t sure if you are eligible for other benefits, please e-mail me and I’ll be happy to explain more.

      Sarah

      Reply
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