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, Captain. All rights reserved.

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

  1. John

    Hello,

    Thank you for the informative article. Could you help me with a few questions? I’ve heard that as an officer in the Air Force, it greatly benefits you to have a Masters degree for promotion purposes. How would you suggest getting said Masters while still on AD, and would you suggest MGIB or Post 9/11? Is there a way to study full time while still on AD?

    Thanks,

    John

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      John,

      The answer to whether you should try to get your Master’s on AD or wait until after you leave AD depends on a few things:

      1) If you want to extend your service commitment, you could use TA. You will extend your ADSC for two years from the end of the last class you use TA to pay for (check with the education office to make sure that hasn’t changed recently). If you have an ADSC, you may be able to serve those two years concurrently.

      2) What your objective is in completing the Master’s. It is-or was when I was on AD-recommended for promotion to Major. Are you planning to stay long enough to get promoted? Also, what is your plan once you get out? Is a master’s degree required for that occupation? If so, completing it on AD then helps with promotion potential and sets you up for post-mil employment.

      Also, the options aren’t mutually exclusive-you can use GI Bill benefits on AD, though the benefits are significantly reduced, and then you get your degree on AD and don’t incur additional service commitment.

      And, yes, there are some options to get a master’s full time while on AD, such as at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, CA (which is beautiful). Your local education office should have more info on this option and any other available options.

      I used both TA for a master’s on AD and Post-9/11 for a second one after I separated. The plusses to doing it on AD, in addition to civilian careerfield prep, are full-time pay, health insurance, and the flexibility that a number of institutions offer AD members. The disadvantages are optempo (I got deployed the first day of my first master’s classes), trying to work and carry a school load, the ADSC, and that you might not be 100% sure what you want to do after the military. Ultimately, both are good options and I am always in favor of education, but it really comes down to what you are looking for.

      Hope this helps and am happy to discuss further if you would like.

      Sarah

      Reply
  2. Nancy

    I’m in the process of signing up for college and first and foremost, I called the veterans office at the school and was asking them for help on what I should do. I’m eligible for both ch. 30 and 33 but was told I couldn’t use both I had to choose between one and give up the other. I’m from TX and recruited out of Tx but I’m currently living in OH, so I also asked about the Hazelwood act and the guy told me he’d never heard of it and that I wouldn’t be able to use it there. So I guess my question is what the hell am I supposed to do and how do I know my best option to choose because at this point I have absolutely no idea what I need to use. I plan on going to school full time for nursing so I know it’s going to be very expensive and I just want to be on the right track and not get slammed w a bunch of loans that I’ll need to pay back in the end. Your help is greatly appreciated!. You seem to know your stuff really good!

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Nancy,

      So, there is a lot more information I would need before I could recommend which benefit is better for you. Most likely it will be Post-9/11, but I can’t say that 100% yet. I will go over some of the things to consider below and am happy to set up a phone call if you find it confusing or would like to discuss it further.

      Before we get started, though, the Hazelwood Act is specific to Texas. It is a state-based initiative, funded by Texas, which is why you can’t use it in Ohio. However, you may be eligible for federal financial aid, such as PELL grants which is money that does not have to be paid back and which you can use in addition to your GI Bill benefits. Even if your GI Bill benefits end up covering all of your tuition costs, I still recommend applying for PELL grant every year–if you qualify, you can always put the money in a savings account to use when you have exhausted your GI Bill benefits. You would need to complete your FAFSA to see what you qualify for and you can do that online or your school’s financial aid department can assist you.

      So, the first question is: do you qualify for in state tuition? As a result of the Choice Act, each state had to come up with rules under which veterans using VA education benefits would qualify for in-state tuition, even if they didn’t meet the traditional state residency rules. I am not sure how long you have been in Ohio, so you should check your residency status with the school and, if needed, complete any paperwork that would allow them to waive the residency requirements for you if necessary.

      Second: how long is your training? If you switch directly over to Post-9/11, you get 36 months of education benefits. That can potentially be enough to get all four years of a degree paid for. However, if you have to take remedial classes, such as college prep math, or you have extra semesters for internships or clinicals, or something along those lines, it might take longer than that. If it is going to take you more semesters to get your degree than Post-9/11 can cover, then you may want to consider starting with MGIB, especially if you qualify for PELL grant. If you use MGIB first, then you can potentially use 36 months of MGIB and then qualify for an additional 12 months of Post-9/11. You would need to make sure that you have enough service to qualify for both. Meaning, you’ll need enough years in service to fully meet the MGIB qualifications and then additional years of service to meet the Post-9/11 qualification.

      You might also want to check with how the school measures your clinicals and how that might impact your benefits. Generally, those are measured in actual hours, rather than credit hours, and VA measures those differently when determining amount of benefits you qualify for during a specific semester.

      Do you qualify for Post-9/11 at the 100% rate or less than 100%, as that can change which benefit makes more sense for you.

      I recommend you meet with an academic advisor and have them print you a “degree run” or whatever they call it there. This should be a list of the courses you need to take to complete your nursing degree. It should also take into account any credit for military training or previous classes that you have taken at other colleges, so you can see which classes you have already earned credit for. You should then ask the advisor which classes require prerequisites. These are not always listed on a degree run or degree program list, but they can delay how many semesters it takes to actually complete your degree. The basic classes for nursing often include prereqs, particularly around your science classes. You want to make sure you have a good picture of how many semesters it will take to get your degree.

      Then talk to financial aid about how much PELL grant you qualify for and admissions to make sure you qualify for the in-state rate. And then you should be able to accurately compare the MGIB and Post-9/11 and determine which is going to be the better fit for you.

      I know it can be confusing, so I am happy to talk you through it if that is easier. Just let me know and we can schedule a time.

      Good luck!
      Sarah

      Reply
  3. Chiqui

    I also wanted to ask how do one receive the money for school or whether it be a housing allowance… do day pay you the bah through dfas? How about the MGIB, do they send the money through DFAS too and does it show on your les.. but i assume he wont have an les anymore since he is retired by then.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      DFAS only disburses Department of Defense funds.If your husband will receive retirement pay, then DFAS will pay his retirement and he will receive an LES for his retirement pay. VA will pay his GI Bill payments from the Treasury via direct deposit into his bank account (he will have to provide that information when he applies for GI Bill benefits). And then, if he uses Post-9/11, the VA will pay the school the tuition and fees directly. He can track the GI Bill payments on eBenefits.

      Reply
  4. Chiqui

    Hi, my husband will retire in less than a year. It will be his 20 yrs of service. I saw in your blog that he might be eligible to use both. Our questions are…
    1. We were thinking of him going to school overseas, how much GI Bill will he be getting if he goes full time?
    2. Why is it important to use up all of the MGIB before switching over to Post 9/11 GI Bill?
    3. And during the switch over, does it automatically switch over?
    4. Lets say he goes full time student in a private school in the Philippines but it only cost around $3,000 for the whole year to attend.. is that all he is going to get or he is still going to get the $1668 per month no matter what and be able to pocket the rest?

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Chiqui,

      Congratulations to your husband on his coming retirement! Here are the answers to your questions. Please let me know if I can answer anything else for you.

      1) How much he will get will depend on which GI Bill he uses. MGIB currently pays $1789 a month for full time training (this amount changes Oct of each year). Post-9/11 currently pays $1368 a month in BAH for full time attendance at a foreign school (unless that school is in a US territory).

      2) He can choose to use all 36 months of his MGIB and then switch over to Post-9/11 for another 12 months (if he qualifies for both). Or he can give up his MGIB and get 36 months of Post-9/11. If he uses some, but not all, of his MGIB and then decides to switch to Post-9/11, he only gets as many months of Post-9/11 as he had left of MGIB. So, for example, if he uses 4 months of MGIB and then decides to switch to Post-9/11, he is only going to get 32 months of Post-9/11.

      3) It does not automatically switch over. In order to switch over, he would need to reapply through VONAPP and select Post-9/11.

      4) If he uses MGIB, then he would get $1789 for each full month paid to him and he would pay his tuition, books, etc, out of that and then could “pocket” the rest. If he uses Post-9/11 and the tuition and fees for the year are only $3000, then VA would pay the $3000 to the school and then would pay him the $1368 a month for each month of schooling, plus up to $1000 per school year in books. He can then “pocket” the $1368 a month and the book money.

      A couple of other things to keep in mind:

      1) The program he wants to attend in the Phillipines must be approved for GI Bill benefits. If it isn’t, he won’t be able to use his GI Bill there. You can find more information about using GI Bill benefits at a foreign institution here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/foreign_school_information_for_students.asp

      2) Keep in mind that there are often pay delays when someone starts using their education benefits, and this is even more likely to occur in an overseas situation, so he should plan accordingly.

      I hope this helps get you and your husband started. Please let me know if I can answer anything else for you.

      Best,
      Sarah

      Reply
  5. C

    Hello,
    I am in a very complicated situation right now. I entered the service in jan 2012 and still active. This summer i won green to gold non scholarship program. Ok here is the bad news. In 2013 i applied for montgamery gi bill because education center counselors told me i can switch it to post 9/11 anytime. Now l am going to 2 years masters program in Hawaii and definately needed post 9/11 gi bill because montgamery gi bill wont even cover my tuition(everything is expensive in hawaii). I filled out application at vonapp and a week ago i received a letter from va saying they denied my request to switch my gi bills. The reason is l need more time in service. But l’m getting seperated from active duty due to going to green 2 gold program. So my only hope is to try to switch again after getting my dd214. Have l tried to confirm it with education counselors here, yes, unfortunately they are not sure. Otherwise l guess l have to work full time to pay rest of my tuition, housing and other expenses while being full time masters student and doing some rotc classes. Is there anyone who has or had a similar situation like me? Does it make a difference to switch after l get my dd214? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      C,

      So, first let me explain that you wouldn’t be “converting” your MGIB to Post-9/11, you would be “electing” Post-9/11 “in lieu of” MGIB. That’s important because the two programs have different eligibility criteria. Post-9/11 requires at least 90 days of active duty time for the basic qualification. This excludes time spent in basic and AIT (until you hit the two year mark and the VA can start counting that) and any time required to pay back ROTC or other education obligations.

      However, based on what you are telling me, time on AD shouldn’t be the issue and you should qualify for Post-9/11 at least a partial percentage rate. Would you be willing to scan and e-mail me the letter you got from VA so I can take a look at the actual wording?

      Also, since you got the non-scholarship version of green to gold, you should be eligible to join the Guard or Reserve during your time in school through the Simultaneous Membership Program, which should make you eligible for E-5 pay during that time. You may also, through them, be eligible for Tuition Assistance, which could offset some of the cost of tuition and fees. Have you talked to the education office about that option?

      There may also be school specific financial aid you could qualify for, such as graduate teaching assistant tuition waivers. Have you checked your school’s financial aid page or talked to a financial aid representative at your school to see what they might offer?

      Sarah

      Reply
      1. C

        Thank you so much for the quick reply. Where can l find your email address? So that l can send you scanned copy of the va letter.

        Reply
        1. Captain

          Post author

          C,

          I didn’t receive a copy of your VA letter. If you decided not to send it, that’s totally your call. Just wanted to let you know I didn’t receive it in case you did send it and were awaiting a response.

          Best,
          Sarah

          Reply
  6. Jonathan

    This is one of the best breakdowns of this sometimes confusing decision , so I thank you for your thorough responses below! I read through most of them in hopes of getting an answer but I got a quick question, hopefully you can help!

    I have less than a year left and just going through some options and debating on whether to go guard/reserve or call it a day and grow an awesome Veteran beard, but I digress…

    1. If I go guard or reserve, would I still be able to receive the BAH of the post 9/11 GI Bill? I have received a few “I’m pretty sure’s” from people but no definitive answer.

    2. I am considering the chaplain candidate program which will enable me to finish my mdiv while being in the reserves and obtaining reserve benefits, just wanted to clarify the BAH portion.

    3. Pertaining to the BAH, I know you will only receive it while you are in school, so if I do not take summer classes, I will not receive it. But I had another question without being convoluted (I’m good at that :/). I read somewhere that stated as long as there is no more than a 50 day gap between classes you will continue to receive bah with no gap, assuming one takes summer school, is that true? So if I was in school every semester would I get all 12 months of the bah even with a few weeks lapse between classes?

    Reply
    1. Jonathan

      The 50 day thing was 3rd hand RUMINT…as an Intel officer I hope you can appreciate that from an Intel guy like myself :p

      Reply
    2. Captain

      Post author

      Jonathan,

      Ah, RUMINT – still wreaking havoc, I see. Glad you trusted your intel instincts and went looking for the real thing. :)

      One important note: while I don’t personally care for those “awesome Veteran beards” (ick), I promise the information below is provided without bias.

      1) The issue of whether you receive BAH (technically VA refers to it as MHA – monthly housing allowance) really comes down to the old “double-dipping” concept. You can’t receive DoD BAH and VA MHA at the same time. So, yes, as long as you are Guard or Reserve but not activated, you can receive Post-9/11 MHA.

      2) I am not familiar with the chaplain program, so I don’t know if that will put any kinks in the BAH/MHA situation. Again, it comes down to Uncle Sam not being willing to pay for your housing twice.

      3) First time I’ve heard the 50 day thing, but I think that’s a garbled version of the MHA grandfathering policy and the interval (or break) pay issue. VA did away with what they call “interval pay” in 2011, meaning they will not pay for breaks between terms. So, unless you are enrolled in summer classes, you aren’t getting paid in the summer. While you are generally paid for breaks within terms, such as Spring Break, that last 7 days or less (I say generally only because it has been published in the past, but I can’t find the exact language to quote you in the current VA documents), VA pays by the day in all other cases. For example, if your last class of fall term ends Dec 13th and your first class of spring term doesn’t start until Jan 5th, you aren’t getting paid for Dec 14th-Jan 4th.

      — There is one exception to the interval pay rule and that is if your school was closed by an Executive Order from the President or because of an emergency situation, in that case you can still receive the pay for no more than 4 weeks in a 12 month period. VA is the final decisionmaker on these situations and is usually in contact with students that this exception will apply to. —

      The gap that you are referring to is most likely talking about VA’s grandfathering policy with regards to MHA. This policy pertains to the MHA rates. MHA rates change on a yearly basis, sometimes up, sometimes down. If, at the time you start classes for the first time, the MHA is $1600 a month and then, a year later, it drops to $1575, as long as your were continuously enrolled – which VA defines as having no more than a 6-month break in your enrollment – your MHA amount won’t drop. So, if you enroll for fall and spring semester and then take summer off, you aren’t getting paid for the time between fall and spring semester and you aren’t getting paid for summer either, but when you return to classes for the next fall semester, your MHA should be the same amount it was the previous fall – unless it’s gone up, and then you get the new rate. (How’s that for convoluted?)

      Hope that helps clear things up a little. Let me know if you have any further questions I can answer and best of luck with your future (even if it does involve a beard!)

      Sarah

      Reply
  7. Rod

    Captain,

    I am AD with over 20 years of service and on the fence on whether to stay or go. I really do not want get out with a degree and I don’t want to use TA with the two year obligation as an Officer. So I am interested in using one of the bills I am eligible for both. Which bill would be better for AD Officers who does not want to payback the use of TA? BTW, all classes will be taken online.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Rod,

      Both MGIB and Post-9/11 are significantly reduced for AD members. The primary considerations boil down to: money for books and the length of the degree program.

      Before I get into the money part, let me say one thing about the online degree program. Doing online classes does not make a difference for AD members, because it only impacts Post-9/11 BAH and AD members cannot receive Post-9/11 BAH while on AD. If you do not finish the degree before you leave AD, however, all online classes can make an enormous difference in housing – by several thousand dollars in some cases. Also, you’ll want to make sure the online program is accredited by a regional organization. Some colleges that offer online programs are only accredited by a distance learning organization and, while you will still be awarded a degree at the end of the program, if you decide to transfer in the middle of your program to a different school, none or very few of your credits will transfer. You can find a school’s accreditation on their webpage and you want to look for something like “accredited by the southeast regional council.”

      As for which education benefit you should use, here is the comparison of the two benefits:

      MGIB – Ordinarily, MGIB currently pays $1,789 per one full month of full time training. (Full time for undergrad is generally 12 credit hours; for master’s programs, full time is determined by the school.) However, Active Duty members using MGIB will only receive reimbursement for the actual cost of tuition and fees.

      Post-9/11 – Post-9/11 usually pays in-state tuition and fees, plus BAH and up to $1,000 in books per academic year (approximately $41 per credit hour). However, if you are Active Duty, you don’t get the BAH, since you are already receiving BAH from DoD. So, you would get tuition, fees, and some money for books. (Based on your listed amount of service you should get the 100% rate, however an individual with less than 100% eligibility would have to take that into consideration when doing their calculations.)

      In this scenario, Post-9/11 would be better. However, the next question is how long your degree program is. If you elect Post-9/11, you lose MGIB and will have 36 months of Post-9/11 benefits. If you choose MGIB instead, you can use 36 months of that benefit and then use an additional 12 months of Post-9/11. (You must use every last day of MGIB in order for this to get a good option, if you switch over to Post-9/11 after having used only some of your MGIB, you only get as many days of Post-9/11 as are left of your MGIB.)

      I hope this helps inform your decision. Please let me know if I can answer any further questions for you.

      Sarah

      Reply
  8. Steven Chamble

    Thank you for the excellent information and responding to questions.

    So I am AD, have served 7 years, and am planning to get all the way out of the military in 1 year. I have the MGIB and am trying to see if I want to switch. The main reason I would have switched to the Post-9/11 was to transfer eligibility to my son but I am not going to do 4 more years so that is a no go. I am about to enter an online Master’s Program. I am going to use TA but should I also use my MGIB? I’ll get the stipend even while active duty correct? Also, should I just stay with my MGIB even after I get out and use all 36 months of it, then potentially 12 extra months of Post-9/11? Where do you find information on how much money you will get with the MGIB depending on the school, online or not, and how much credits you have to be taking? Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Steven,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Before I get into the money part, let me say one thing about the online master’s program – please make sure the school is accredited by a regional organization. Some colleges that offer online programs are only accredited by a distance learning organization and, while you will still be awarded a degree at the end of the program, if you decide to transfer in the middle of your program to a different school, none or very few of your credits will transfer. You can find a school’s accreditation on their webpage and you want to look for something like “accredited by the southeast regional council.”

      Also, before using TA, please check with the educational office and make sure that you won’t incur an additional active duty commitment by using TA. I know my enlisted airmen didn’t when they used TA, but when I used it as an officer, I incurred an additional two year service commitment from the end of my last class. I’m sure you’ve done your homework, but I would hate for you to think you were getting out in a year, only to find out that you owed two more because you used TA,

      Now that I’ve given you advice you didn’t ask for, let me get to the advice you did ask for!

      I would recommend you use neither MGIB or Post-9/11 at the moment and save them both for after you leave Active Duty and here’s why: both benefits are significantly reduced when you are on Active Duty and even more so if you are using TA.

      MGIB – Ordinarily, MGIB currently pays $1,789 per one full month of full time training. (Full time for undergrad is generally 12 credit hours; for master’s programs, full time is determined by the school.) However, Active Duty members using MGIB will only receive reimbursement for the actual cost of tuition and fees. And Active Duty members are prohibited from collecting MGIB for the same classes that are being paid for by TA. Therefore, in your situation, you must choose either TA or MGIB, unless they are not paying for the same classes. So, if you take four classes and TA pays for two, you can use MGIB to pay for the other two, but you are only going to get reimbursed for the actual cost of the two classes MGIB is paying for.

      Post-9/11 – Post-9/11 usually pays in-state tuition and fees (or up to a maximum of $21,084.89 per academic year for private schools – this number will go up slightly in August), plus BAH and up to $1,000 in books per academic year (approximately $41 per credit hour). However, if you are Active Duty, you don’t get the BAH, since you are already receiving BAH from DoD. And if you are Active Duty using TA, then Post-9/11 only pays the tuition and fees that your TA doesn’t cover, up to the yearly cap. So, if your tuition and fees are $450 per credit hour and you take six credits, for a total of $2,700, your TA, which caps out at $250 per credit hour, will pay $1,500 of that and your Post-9/11 will pay the other $1,200. And then you would also get about $245 for books.

      In this scenario, Post-9/11 would be better. However, depending on how long your master’s program is or if you plan on pursuing an additional certification or PhD, you might want to wait and keep all of your MGIB and Post-9/11 and use them once you are off of active duty. If you want me to run the numbers to help you decide whether MGIB or Post-9/11 would be better once you get off of Active Duty, please let me know. In order to be totally accurate, though, I would need to know your school, or at least your tuition and fee costs for a semester, and what your long term academic goals are.

      Also, you can find the rate tables for both the MGIB stipend and the Post-9/11 BAH rates here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/resources/benefits_resources/rate_tables.asp#Ch30

      I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. Please let me know if you have any further questions; I am happy to answer anything that I can.

      Good luck with your program,
      Sarah

      Reply
  9. Michael

    Thank you for your blog. I recently got offered an Active Duty Green to Gold Scholarship. I will stay on active duty – receiving my base pay, bah, and bas – for 4 semesters while I attend college and finish my bachelor’s degree. I will take ROTC and commission as an Officer when I graduate in 2 years.

    Onto my GI Bill question. I qualify for both CH 30 and CH 33. I also received a full pell grant. I am puzzled which GI Bill I should take. Being Active Duty, I was told Post 9/11 will pay tuition/fees directly to my school and a book stipend to me. Where as the MGIB will pay me exactly what tuition/fees cost divided monthly over the semesters. I have had some say there is money to be made using the MGIB and others say there is not, Post 9/11 is the way to go.

    For some background – Tuition and fees at my university is roughly $6,300 a year. And I will have to buy books.

    I am fortunate to have received such a great scholarship and have options to pay for my school, I am just looking for the best option to possibly benefit my wallet a little as I am losing $450/month special duty pay taking the scholarship.

    Thank you for your input.

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Michael,

      Congrats on the Green to Gold Scholarship!

      So, my recommendation is to take neither and, instead, save Ch 30 and Ch 33 for any future education goals you have. Instead, I would look at your school or the state the school is located in to see if they have additional funds you would be eligible for. Most schools and states have additional funds specifically for military/veterans. If you tell me school or state, I’d be happy to see what I can find for you.

      That said, here are how the numbers roll out for each GI Bill, so you have all the details you need to make your own decision. One caveat – these numbers are going to assume that you qualify for both MGIB and Post-9/11 at the 100%. If you don’t, then the amounts will be different. You can find out what you qualify for by applying for both benefits on VONAPP.

      MGIB – MGIB is going to refund you for the exact cost of tuition and fees. Basically, that should then free up your PELL grant to pay for books and whatever else you need. (Max PELL grant for 2016-2017 is $5,815 – how much you qualify for will vary.)

      Post-9/11 – Post-9/11 will pay tuition and fees to the school, which should then also free up PELL grant. Plus, Post-9/11 pays approximately $40 per credit hour, up to $500 a semester, for books.

      Keep in mind that VA doesn’t pay upfront, which means you will need to find out if the school will waive your tuition and fee payments at the beginning of the term, so you can pay them later. Otherwise, you will have to use PELL to pay upfront and cover any difference, and then be reimbursed later.

      Based on money alone, Post-9/11 is slightly better. However, as I said, I would consider your long term education goals before you choose either one.

      If you choose MGIB and are only going to school for two years, that will leave you two years of MGIB, plus an additional year of Post-9/11 for any future education goals.

      If you choose Post-9/11, you give up MGIB and will end this degree with only 1 year of Post-9/11 available for any future education goals. Or, to transfer to any dependents – which may or may not be a consideration at the moment, but may be in the future.

      I hope this helps make things clearer. Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions and good luck!

      Sarah

      Reply
  10. Zach

    Thanks for the article. I haven’t found too much on hybrid classes, so I just wanted to make sure I’m understanding what you’re saying here. I’m registered for 2 hybrid classes and 2 normal classes (brick and mortar) next semester. If I’m understanding you correctly, I should receive the full BAH?

    Reply
    1. Captain

      Post author

      Zach,

      Yes, as long as you have at least one regular “brick and mortar” class, you should receive the full BAH (assuming all your classes are required for your degree, that you qualify at the 100% rate, etc.). The issues come in when students want to rely on the hybrid class as their “brick and mortar” class and take the rest of their classes online–generally, the hybrid class doesn’t meet enough hours in the classroom to actually count as a B&M class, so those students end up getting the reduced BAH rate.

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can answer for you,
      Sarah

      Reply
  11. Joss

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for this blog. It is very helpful with my decision in which benefit to use. I do qualify for both MGIB Chapter 30 (which I am using now) and Post 9/11.

    So just to make sure I get this correct: after I exhaust my 36 months of MGIB, then I can switch over to Post 9/11. Will I get the full benefits for the 9/11? And it’s only for another year right?

    Reply
    1. Joss

      Also, I am not able to go to school full time. Currently my status is “3/4 time” student.

      Does this affect me in any way?

      I want to maximize my benefits, and I’m not sure if I am. Please advise.

      Reply
    2. Captain

      Post author

      Joss,

      I am glad you found the blog helpful!

      If you are eligible for Post-9/11 and you exhaust every day of your MGIB, you are eligible for an additional 12 months of Post-9/11 (you’ll need to go into VONAPP and apply for it, but don’t do that until after you have used all your MGIB). Whether you will qualify for Post-9/11 at the 100% rating will depend on your time in service. VA will make that determination once you submit your application.

      If you are attending school at 3/4 time, under MGIB your stipend will prorated to the 3/4 time rate ($1,341.75/month). Once you switch to Post-9/11, if you qualify at the 100% rate and attend 3/4 time, you will get roughly 3/4 (it gets rounded, so it could be slightly higher) of the E-5 with dependents BAH rate for your school’s zip code and still 100% of the tuition and fees up to the max for the year and up to $1,000 a year for books. If you qualify at less than the 100% rate, then all of those benefits get prorated first by your qualifying percentage and then by your rate of attendance (3/4). I know it can be confusing, so please e-mail me if you want to talk specifics to your school.

      Hope this helps and please let me know if I can answer anything else for you,
      Sarah

      Reply
        1. Captain

          Post author

          Just go to the contact page (link found at the top of the page) and you can send an e-mail that way.

          Thanks,
          Sarah

          Reply
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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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