By Terry Howell
Over the last year hundreds of articles have been written about the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Some have been more accurate than others. As with any new benefit, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. The following are some of the less than factual things you may have read or heard about the new GI Bill.
Fiction: The Montgomery GI Bill is being replaced by the Post-9/11 GI Bill on August 1, 2009.
Fact: Although this has often been reported in the news, the fact is the current MGIB is not going away. The new GI Bill is merely an additional benefit added to the VA’s long list of education programs. Servicemembers and veterans who want to use the new benefit must make an irrevocable choice to switch.
Fiction: The VA let the Department of Defense dictate the policy for transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. And it was the DoD that co-opted the policy making servicemembers reenlist to earn the benefit.
Fact: Congress mandated that DoD determine the policy for transferring the GI Bill. In addition, the original intent was to encourage retention.
Fiction: Everyone who switches to the new GI Bill (Chapter 33) will be refunded their $1,200 MGIB (Chapter 30) enrollment fee.
Fact: Those who switch to the new GI Bill with remaining MGIB benefits will be refunded up to $1,200 of their enrollment fee – based on how much of the MGIB they have remaining when the elect to switch. This payment will be made in their last monthly housing stipend payment.
The catch – Veterans who do not receive the monthly housing stipend in their last month of Post-9/11 benefit will not get a refund of their MGIB enrollment fee. According to VA this is because veterans taking distance learning classes or attending half-time (or less) do not qualify for the monthly housing payment.
Fiction: Dependent children who receive transferred GI Bill benefits must use their benefits within15 years of their parent’s separation from active duty.
Fact: Dependent children have until their 26th birthday to use their transferred GI Bill benefit – no matter when their parent leaves the military.
Fiction: The new GI Bill cannot be used for online courses.
Fact: The new GI Bill can be used for taking online courses. However, there are limitations.
- The tuition rate is limited to the in-state undergraduate tuition rate for publicly operated schools – for the state in which the school is located, not the student's home state. This could result in out-of-pocket expenses.
- Students taking 100 percent of their classes online (each term) are not eligible to receive the monthly housing stipend for that term.
Fiction: Everyone should switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Fact: Choosing to switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill is irrevocable, making sure it best suits each individual's needs before switching is critical. For most, the new GI Bill is a better deal; however, here are some reasons why the Post 9/11 may not fit your needs:
- The school you plan to attend is located in a state with low tuition rates and/or you plan to use your benefits to attend online courses.
- You plan to use your benefits to take vocational or technical training.
- You qualify for less than 100 percent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on the number of active duty months served since Sept. 10, 2001.
- You have used more than half of your MGIB benefits. If you exhaust your MGIB before switching, you may be eligible for up to 12 additional months of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Be sure to research, ask questions, and seek counseling at your school’s veteran services office before making the switch. Get help from the source, call the VA at 1-888-GIBILL-1 or visit www.gibill.va.gov.