By Terry Howell
The new Post 9/11 GI Bill begins paying benefits in August. As the new GI Bill moves forward servicemembers and veterans will be required to choose the benefits package (Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill) that best suits their needs.
Military.com created a GI Bill Calculator to help determine the cash value of your benefits and help you compare the old and new benefits based on your specific profile and declared needs. But the choice between GI Bills involves more than money, making the wrong choice can result in lost benefits and derailed education and career goals.
Here are some of the things you must consider before making your decision:
- Compared Cash Values - Your personal eligibility factors and education plans affect the bottom line, but don't let this be the only factor you consider.
- Your Eligibility Status – The number of months served on active duty since 9/11/2001 determines the amount of benefits you get.
- Your Current Duty Status – If you are on active duty you get different benefits than veterans and members of the selected reserve. The GI Bill Calculator can help you see what you will get based on your current duty status.
- Transferability - Only the Post-9/11 GI Bill will allow you to give your education benefits to dependents, if this is important to you then your choice is more clear.
- Your Education Goals – Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition rate is based on the in-state undergraduate rate, if you are planning to go enroll in a Post-Graduate program you may face out-of-pocket expenses.
- Online vs. In-Classroom – Eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill housing stipend is determined by course delivery method. Students attending 100% online classes, active duty members, and students enrolled at half-time or less are not eligible.
- Your School Choice – The Post-9/11 GI Bill's in-state tuition rate caps may limit your options, in some areas the Post-9/11 will not fully cover the cost of tuition. In addition, the housing stipend payment rate is determined by the zip code of the school you plan to attend.
- Remaining Montgomery GI Bill Benefits – Using up your remaining MGIB may open the door to 12 more months of benefits.
- How Soon Do You Want to Use It – You have 10 years after you leave the service to use the Montgomery GI Bill and 15 years to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Th GI Bill Calculator results are unofficial, the tool is designed to aid in the decision process, not to replace VA representatives and local school veteran advisors. No matter what you choose the decision irrevocable – choose wisely.
Be sure to speak directly to a VA representative or the veterans program administrator at your school before you make an irrevocable decision. You can reach the VA at 1-888-GIBILL-1 or through the VA Question & Answer portal.