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Education: Solving the GI Bill Mystery
Education: Solving the GI Bill Mystery

Due to misinformation, rumors, and bureaucratic language, the MGIB seems a mystery to most people. The following information will help you to solve the MGIB mystery, use the benefits you have earned, and explain how to take full advantage of them.

Here's how the Montgomery GI Bill Works for You!

If you are qualified for the MGIB (Active Duty) (Categories 1 and 4) and you have completed more than three years active duty, your total benefits are now $37,224. Your actual benefits may be higher if you signed up for the Army or Navy College Funds. This sum is reached by multiplying the current FY maximum benefit ($1034) by 36 (the number of portions or months in your account). Don't let the term "months" confuse you -- months only correlate with the calendar for full-time academic students.

Get Over $1000 a Month
Your service may have earned you great education benefits. Get up to $1034 per month to pay for your undergraduate, graduate or technical degree. Find military-friendly schools today.

Here's how it works for Active Duty members:

If you are currently on active duty the VA will pay up to, but not to exceed the cost of your education tuition and fees.

Example: If you are a full-time student (usually 12 units) and your tuition is $6000 (or more) for a semester, you would receive up to the full $1034 per month from the VA. However, if your tuition costs are only $3000 for the semester, you would receive approximately $500 per month.

Check out the FAQ below for more information.

Here's how it works if you are a Veteran:

If you have successfully completed your military service and are a full-time student (as defined by your school), the VA will pay you the full $1034 per month regardless of the tuition costs.

Example: If you are a full time student and your tuition cost is $100 you would still receive the full $1034 per month while enrolled in school and taking a full load.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the GI Bill considered Financial Aid?
Not in the traditional sense. In most cases the school financial aid dept. does not considered the MGIB financial aid because it is normally paid directly to you, not the school. Most schools will require you to sign a promissory note, or apply for student loans to pay them upfront.

This also means that you are eligible for student loans, scholarships, and Pell Grants along with the GI Bill. But it is important to note that your GI Bill income will reduce the amount of student financial aid you are eligible to receive.

For help in locating scholarships, see the Scholarship Search.

How long do I have to use my benefits?
Once you have separated from the service you have 10 years to use all of your benefits. Although separating from service "starts the clock" on your 10-year time limit, you should know that if you re-join Active-duty service for more than 90 days during the 10 year period, your 10 year clock is reset. In other words you get 10 years from your last discharge.

Example: Seaman Smith left the active duty and joined the Navy Reserve. Three years later she returned to active duty with seven years remaining on the MGIB clock. At that point the clock is reset at the 10 year mark when she leaves the service again, at which point the clock will start ticking again, meaning she now has a fresh 10 years left to use ALL of her benefits, or she will loose her remaining balance, which then returns to Uncle Sam.

Can I stop and start using the MGIB at will?
YES! Unfortunately, many people believe that once you apply for benefits you have to remain enrolled in school to get the full benefit. Thankfully that's not true, you can use the MGIB for any period of time, take time off and reapply to use it again at a later date.

What does a "month" of benefits mean?
For Veterans: Every time you use the current FY maximum "payment rate" ($1034) of MGIB benefits you use a month.

Here is what the VA says:
"If you are a veteran and you receive $4136, and your full-time MGIB rate is $1004, divide $4136 by $1034. Your entitlement charge is 4 months.

However for Active Duty:
If you are on active duty and you go to school full-time for 4 months, but your tuition is only $1,000, you will still be charged for 4 months of your GI Bill 36 month entitlement.

Note: It only pays to use your GI Bill on active duty if your tuition costs are high or you use it as Top-up.

How is Top-up charged against my GI Bill Benefit?
If you receive $517 for Top-Up, and your full-time rate is $1034, divide $517 by $1034. Your entitlement charge is one-half month.

How often will I receive payments?
In most cases you will receive your benefits on a monthly basis. However each month that you are enrolled in classes you are required to verify your "status" this can be accomplished through Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (W.A.V.E.) or by telephone. Within 3-5 days you will receive a direct deposit of your monthly benefits. However you will not receive your payment until you verify.

Will I have to pay taxes on my MGIB benefits?
NO! Your MGIB benefits are NOT taxable!

What are the current "payment rates"?
The MGIB Payment rates increase every year; click here to see the current and future "payment rates."

Can I be eligible for more than one benefit?
You may be eligible for more than one VA education benefit. If you are, you must elect which benefit to receive. You can't receive payment for more than one benefit at a time. The other benefits are:

Training and Rehabilitation for Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities
Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Educational Assistance Program
Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance
Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty Educational Assistance Program
Educational Assistance Test Program
Educational Assistance Pilot Program

How do I get started?
You can apply for the GI Bill by filling out and following the instructions on VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. For more details, see How to Apply for GI Bill Benefits and get started using your benefits today!

Remember, many schools offer free information packets they will mail you. You can request information from multiple schools at once by filling out a form on Military.com. With no obligation or cost, learning about different schools is a great way to take the first step. Click here to request information.

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