Guidance for Choosing Between GI Bill Programs

Making a Decision

If you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and other GI Bill benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) you will at some point be required to make an irrevocable choice of which benefit you wish to receive.

It is important to note that the Post-9/11 GI Bill will not go into effect until August 1, 2009. Veterans with multiple benefit options will not be required to make a choice at this time. The VA will notify such veterans when they will be required to choose.

There are many things to consider before choosing which benefit you wish to receive and whether or not to participate in the Active-Duty or Reserve GI Bill programs. Consider the following most important factors when making your choice:

 

Types of Training Offered Through GI Bill Programs

There are several t types of training that can be taken using your Montgomery GI Bill benefits. These include college (undergraduate, graduate), certificate programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeship training, flight training, and non-college degree courses. However the Post-9/11 GI Bill can only be used for programs taken at a college or university.

If you switch training programs and you have eligibility under more than one type of GI Bill you MAY be able to change which GI Bill you draw depending on your eligibility.

For example: you have eligibility under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Selected Reserve GI Bill. You can get a degree in electrical engineering under the Post-9/11 GI Bill at a community college, then you can enroll in an apprenticeship program with the electrician's union under the Selected Reserve GI Bill and receive Journeyman certification.

Learn more about the programs covered under the MGIB.

Amount of Benefits Offered Under Each Program

The amount of benefits and the money you will receive is an important factor to consider before selecting a benefit. While you may think you will receive more money under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it may not be the case. So read the following carefully:

NOTE: You can use the Military.com GI Bill Calculator to determine and compare the cash value of both benefits.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill you may receive:

  • A tuition & fees payment (paid directly to the school) not to exceed the tuition & fees at the most expensive state Institution of Higher Learning (IHL)
    For a listing of the maximum tuition & fees for each state click here

    A monthly housing allowance based on the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. This amount is based on the ZIP code of the location of the school you are attending
    To determine the BAH for your ZIP code click here (link goes to the DoD per diem website)

    An annual book stipend of $1,000 paid proportionately based on enrollment. The rate is $41 per credit hour. Once you have been paid $1,000 you are done for the school year.
  • A one-time rural benefit payment of $500.00 if you reside in a county with 6 persons or less per square mile (as determined by the most recent decennial census) and:
    1. either physically relocate at least 500 miles to attend an educational institution or
    2. travel by air to physically attend an educational institution if no other land-based transportation exists


NOTE:
Post-9/11 benefits are paid on a percentage basis, which is determined by your length of active duty service since Sept. 11, 2001. Click here to view the table of Post-9/11 benefit tiers.

Under all other GI Bill programs:

You will receive a monthly payment at a rate set by Congress that does not vary based on your expenses.

For a full-time student using the Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty this comes to $1368 a month. This payment is paid to the student, making it the student's responsibility to pay the tuition and fees to school.

The following links will give you more exact break down for each benefit and level of enrollment:

Click here to see a head to head comparison of benefits.

Extended GI Bill Benefits By 12 Months

Normally, your months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will be equal to the number of months of entitlement you have remaining under the MGIB-AD. However, if you use all of your MGIB-AD benefits, then you may be entitled to a maximum of 12 additional months of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. [Giving you a total of 48 months of education benefits]

Many veterans don't realize this means they may actually be better off to use up their MGIB before applying for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Here is an example:

Active duty veterans that are qualified for both the MGIB and Post-9/11 and have used some (lets say 26 months) of their MGIB may be able to extend their education benefit by 12 months - but - only if they first exhaust all of their remaining MGIB benefit before electing to receive Post-9/11 benefits.

However, if veterans switch to the Post-911 GI Bill before using all 36 months of the MGIB, they will only get the equivalent of the remaining months of their MGIB credited to their Post-9/11 account and will not be eligible to extend the benefit to 48 months.

Other Factors to Consider

  • In some locations the costs of college and housing (which you would receive payment for under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) are less than the payment you would receive under the Montgomery GI Bill.
  • In some states veterans do not have to pay tuition at selected state colleges. The Post-9/11 GI Bill may then pay only the housing benefit and the book stipend. (Since you have no tuition costs the Post-9/11 GI Bill will not pay the college any tuition.) Your payments under other GI Bill programs such as the Active-Duty GI Bill may be higher in these cases.
    Click here to see other GI Bill rates.
  • If you are eligible for the Navy, Army or Marine Corps College Fund (enlistment Incentive programs) under MGIB and MGIB-SR programs you may receive your college fund as before, unless you are attending classes at half-time or less.
  • If you participated in the $600 buy-up under the Montgomery GI Bill or REAP you will not receive that additional benefit under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill payment is based on the amount of service completed after September 10, 2001. Your tuition & fees payment, housing allowance, and book stipend are all based on this percentage. You will receive a larger benefit if you served more active duty or mobilization time.

 

To see a breakdown of the amount payable based on service completed after September 10, 2001 click here.

For an explanation of the various types of training click here.

Type of Training

Post-9/11
GI Bill

Montgomery
GI Bill-Active Duty

Montgomery
GI Bill-Reserves

REAP

Institution of Higher Learning
(IHL) in residence 1

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

IHL online only &
Distance/Online Training
Yes 2
Yes
Yes
Yes
Non-College Degree (NCD) 1

No 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

OJT & Apprenticeship Training

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Flight Training

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Correspondence

No 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Licensing & Certification

Yes 4

Yes

Yes

Yes

National Testing Programs

No 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Entrepreneurship Training

No 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Accelerated Payment

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Co-op Training

No 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Work-Study Program

Yes3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tuition Assistance Top Up

Yes

Yes

No

No

Tutorial Assistance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 An IHL is defined as an Institution of Higher Learning - or a degree granting institution. The easiest way to differentiate between an IHL and an NCD (Non-College Degree) program is to determine if you will receive a degree or certificate upon completion of the program. You usually receive a degree at an IHL but a certificate at an NCD. Check with your school for more information.

2 If you are enrolled entirely in an online or distance learning program your payment is limited to the tuition & fees not to exceed the tuition & fees at the most expensive state Institution of Higher Learning (IHL). You will not receive the housing allowance or books & supplies stipend.

3 If your training is part of a degree program at an IHL you may be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

4 Limited to one test.

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Reminder: The Post-9/11 GI Bill is only payable at an Institution of Higher Learning (IHL), you are only eligible for GI Bill benefits for other types of training if you have eligibility under other GI Bill programs such as the MGIB-Active Duty GI Bill, MGIB-Reserve GI Bill, REAP, or VEAP. You should contact your Education Service Officer or the VA for more information.

 

Post-9/11
GI Bill

Montgomery
GI Bill-Active Duty

Montgomery
GI Bill-Reserve

REAP

Tuition and Fees*

Paid directly to school.  Not to exceed the highest in-state undergraduate tuition at public IHL.

Paid directly to recipient

For rates click here

Paid directly to recipient

For rates click here

Paid directly to recipient.

For rates click here

Housing Allowance
(Based on ZIP Code of school)
*

Paid monthly at the E-5 with dependents BAH rate.

Not payable for active duty recipients, those training at ½ time or less, or students enrolled entirely in distance learning programs.

Book Stipend*

Yearly  -  up to $1,000 - Paid proportionally each term based on enrollment and as listed in the table below.

Not payable to individuals on active duty.

Not Payable

Rural Benefit

One time  -  up to $500

Not Payable

Time Limit to Use Benefits

15 Years

10 Years

Eligibility normally ends once you leave the service

Can be eligible for 10 years after leaving service

College Fund

Applicable percentage added to Housing Allowance

Added to monthly rate

$600 Buy-up

Not Paid

Paid at applicable rate
Click here to see rates

Not Payable

Paid at applicable rate
Click here to see amounts

* Paid on a proportional basis. See table below for details.

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Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits rates are tiered based on your time in active service since Sept. 11. 2001. The following table shows the tiers for active-duty personnel:

Active Duty Completed after September 10, 2001

Percentage of Maximum Amount Payable

At least 36 months

100%

At least 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability
100%
30 months to 36 months
90%
24 months to 30 months
80%
18 months to 24 months
70%
12 months to 18 months
60%
6 months to 12 months
50%
90 days to 12 months
40%

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Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits rates are tiered based on your time on active duty since Sept. 11. 2001. The following table shows the tiers for reserve and National Guard personnel:

Post-9/11 Service

Percentage of Maximum Amount Payable

At least 36 cumulative months (including Entry Level or Skills Training)

100%

At least 30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability
(including Entry Level or Skills Training)
100%
At least 30 cumulative months (including Entry Level or Skills Training)
90%
At least 24 cumulative months (not including Entry Level or Skills Training)
80%
At least 18 cumulative months (not including Entry Level or Skills Training)
70%
At least 12 cumulative months (not including Entry Level or Skills Training)
60%
At least 6 cumulative months (not including Entry Level or Skills Training)
50%
90 aggregate days (not including Entry Level or Skills Training)
40%

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Related Topics

GI Bill Benefits Education

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GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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