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Questions and Answers on the New GI Bill

The new GI Bill (Chapter 33) which is being called the “GI Bill for the 21st Century” contains the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original bill was enacted in 1944.

The new bill goes beyond just helping to pay for tuition. Many veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, will get full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing allowance, as well as a $1,000 a year stipend for books and supplies. The new bill also gives Reserve and Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 access to the same GI Bill benefits.

When will these new benefits start?

This new GI Bill is set to go into affect on August 1, 2009. However, as with any new legislation, it could take some time for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin paying benefits.

How do I know if I am eligible for these new benefits?

If you have served a total of at least 90 days on active duty in the Armed Forces you're eligible. However, the amount of benefits you receive under this program are determined by the actual amount of accumulated post 9/11 service you have.

To be eligible for the full benefit, you must have three years of active duty service after 9/11 or have been discharged due to a service-connected disability.

If you are an officer who graduated from a service academy or received ROTC scholarships, you also qualify for the new GI Bill benefits. However, your ROTC/Service Academy associated obligated active-duty service time does not count toward the three years necessary to qualify for the full benefits.

I did not elect to take part in the original GI Bill. Am I eligible for this new one?

Yes. There is no requirement to have elected into the original (Montgomery) GI Bill in order to take part in the new one.

What are the new GI Bill payment rates?

The Post 9/11 GI Bill will provide up to 100% of your tuition. In addition, the program provides a monthly housing stipend a stipend of up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies. If you attend less than full-time will receive a portion of the payment based on the number of units of study.

The amount of tuition and stipends paid under the Post 9/11 GI Bill will vary depending on your state of residence, number of units taken, and amount of post Sept. 11, 2001 active-duty service. Here is a quick reference showing the percentage of total combined benefit eligibility based on the following periods of post 9/11 service:

  • 100% - 36 or more total months
  • 100% - 30 or more consecutive days with Disability related Discharge.
  • 90% - 30 total months
  • 80% - 24 total months
  • 70% - 18 total months
  • 60% - 12 total months
  • 50% - six total months
  • 40% - 90 or more consecutive days

How much will I receive for my tuition?
Under the new GI Bill you will be provided tuition up to the highest established charges for full-time undergraduate students charged by the public institution of higher education in the State in which you are enrolled.

One of the added features of this tuition payment plan is that the tuition will be paid directly to the school, relieving you of the responsibility. This is similar to the process used for military tuition assistance.

How many months of benefits will I be able to use if I have not already used any GI Bill benefits?

36 Months.

I retired and am now in school. Will I be able to use the new GI Bill?

The new GI bill will update education benefits for all veterans who have served at least 90 days of active duty service post-9/11 and have not already used up all their education benefits. If you meet these requirements you will qualify for the bill.

Are graduates of the service academies included in this bill?

The GI bill will allow officers who graduated from service academies or received ROTC scholarships to qualify for the new GI Bill benefits. The only catch is that the time spent satisfying the ROTC/Service Academy active duty obligation does not count toward the 3 years necessary to qualify for the full benefits.

How much will I receive towards my housing expense?

If you are enrolled in a traditional college program as a full time or three-quarter time student, you will be paid a monthly housing stipend equal to the monthly amount of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. The average housing stipend will be approximately $1,400 a month. However if you attend distance learning programs such as correspondence courses and online you will not qualify for this stipend.

Will I receive any assistance for my books and supplies?

You will receive a lump sum payment the first month of each quarter, semester, or term. The payment will help cover the cost of books, supplies, equipment, and other educational fees for that academic term. The payment amount will be equal to either a quarter or half of the annual $1,000 cap for that academic year, depending on how the academic year is divided – quarter or semester terms.

Is there a time limit on when I must use these benefits?

Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill, the new GI Bill will allow you to use this benefit for up to 15 years after your last discharge or separation from active duty.
Are licensing and certification covered?

This new GI Bill will provide up to $2,000 to cover the cost of one licensing or certification test. This benefit is not charged against your 36 month entitlement.

What if I need a tutor?

Like the Montgomery GI Bill, the new GI Bill will provide up to a maximum of $1,200 for tutorial assistance. The program will pay up to $100 per month, for a maximum of 12 months. This benefit is not charged against your 36 month entitlement.

Can I transfer these benefits?

Although the details have yet to be worked out, the new GI Bill will enable you to transfer a portion of your 36 month benefit entitlement to a designated dependent. This will likely require you to re-enlist to take advantage of this feature.

How do the new benefits compare to the old Montgomery GI Bill?

The following table highlights the differences between the Montgomery GI Bill and the New GI Bill.

 

Montgomery GI Bill
Chapter 30

Post 9/11 GI Bill
Proposed - Chapter 33

Payment Rate for
Full-Time Student

Annually set - nationwide - monthly payment rate. Set to increase to $1321 for 2008-2009. Paid to the student each month.

A payment indexed to full in-state tuition for public schools. A lump sum paid directly to the school each term.

Duration of Program

36 Month entitlement.

36 Month entitlement.

Additional expense
payments

No additional payments for expenses.

Living Expenses - stipend based on local BAH for E-5 with dependents – paid monthly avg. amount app. $1,400 a month.

Books and Fees - Up to $1,000 a year.

Eligibility Requirements

Those who entered service the military after June 30, 1985.

Active-duty service since Sept. 11, 2001.

VEAP-era 
Eligibility

No - Except those who elected to convert in the past.

Yes – those who meet the eligibility criteria above.

Benefit Expiration

10 Years after separation or discharge.

15 Years after discharge or separation.

Transfer benefits
to families

Limited - Currently Limited to Army for Critical MOS only.

Yes - Although the details are still to be released.

Enrollment fee

Yes - $1,200

None - Those who have not yet completed paying their $1,200 for the MGIB may elect to stop further payment.

How do the changes affects the existing GI Bill benefits?

If you are already enrolled in the Montgomery GI Bill and also meet the criteria for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have the option to transfer your remaining MGIB benefits to the new program.

For many veterans this will be a good option. However, due to the tuition limits set by this new GI Bill, many veterans who are pursuing a post-graduate degree may find the MGIB betters suits their needs. This is also true for those students pursuing an online degree, as this new benefit will not pay the housing stipend to students enrolled in distance learning programs.

Additional Eligibility Details:

  • You qualify for 100% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 36 months on active duty in the Armed Forces. This includes service on active duty for entry level and skill training.  
  • You qualify for 100% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 30 continuous days on active duty in the Armed Forces; and after completion of service were discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces for a service-connected disability.
  • You qualify for 90% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 30 months, but less than 36 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (including service on active duty in entry level and skill training).
  • You qualify for 80% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 24 months, but less than 30 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (including service on active duty in entry level and skill training).
  • You qualify for 70% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 18 months, but less than 24 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (excluding service on active duty in entry level and skill training).
  • You qualify for 60% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 12 months, but less than 18 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (excluding service on active duty in entry level and skill training)
  • You qualify for 50% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 6 months, but less than 12 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (excluding service on active duty in entry level and skill training)
  • You qualify for 40% of the benefit if you have a total of at least 90 days, but less than 6 months, on active duty in the Armed Forces.
    (excluding service on active duty in entry level and skill training)

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