Montgomery GI Bill Eligibility Details

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The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) offers education benefits to eligible military members who served on active duty. Administered by the VA, it provides financial assistance for various education and training programs, covering up to 36 months.

Benefits depend on factors such as service length and contributions made. Introduced in 1984, it has undergone enhancements, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill for post-2001 veterans.

Veterans must apply through the VA, providing service documentation.

Montgomery GI Bill Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill you must meet the following requirements:

  • Character of discharge. To use the Montgomery GI Bill after you're separated from active duty, your discharge must be fully honorable. Discharges "under honorable conditions" and "general" discharges don't establish eligibility for the Montgomery GI Bill. Note: If you had more than one enlistment and received an "honorable" discharge from at least one of them, you may be eligible, regardless of your final discharge status.
  • High school completion. You must obtain a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before you apply for benefits. Completing 12 hours toward a college degree before you apply for benefits also meets this requirement.

Additional Montgomery GI Bill Requirements

In addition to the requirements above, you must meet requirements from one of the four categories below.

If you entered active duty before July 1, 1985, skip Category 1. You may only qualify under Categories 2, 3, or 4.

Category 1

  • Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985
  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months
  • Continuously served for three years, or two years if that is what you first enlisted for, or two years if you entered Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served four years ("2 by 4" Program)

Category 2

  • Entered active duty before January 1, 1977
  • Served at least one day between October 19, 1984, and June 30, 1985, and stayed on active duty through June 30, 1988, (or June 30, 1987, if you entered Selected Reserve within one year of leaving active duty and served four years).
  • On December 31, 1989, you had entitlement left from the Vietnam Era GI Bill.

Category 3

  • Not eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill under Category 1 or 2
  • On active duty on September 30, 1990, AND separated involuntarily after February 2, 1991
  • OR involuntarily separated on or after November 30, 1993
  • OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program
  • Before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1,200

Category 4

  • On active duty on October 9, 1996, AND you had money remaining in a Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) account on that date AND you elected the Montgomery GI Bill by October 9, 1997
  • OR entered full-time National Guard duty under Title 32, United States Code, between July 1, 1985, and November 28, 1989, AND you elected the Montgomery GI Bill during the period October 9, 1996, through July 8, 1997
  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution

The monthly benefit paid to you is based on the type of training you take, length of your service, your category, and if DOD put extra money in your Montgomery GI Bill Fund (called "kickers"). You usually have 10 years to use your Montgomery GI Bill benefits, but the time limit can be less or more under certain circumstances.

You can apply on the VA's website. Call toll free 888-GI-BILL-1 for more information.

Montgomery GI Bill Eligibility Time Frame

Benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill generally end 10 years from the date of your last honorable discharge or release from active duty, but some circumstances qualify for extensions. If your discharge is upgraded by the military, you will have 10 years of eligibility from the date of the upgrade.

Original Enrollment Process

The following details explain how an individual is originally enrolled for the Montgomery GI Bill.

  • Enlisted service members are automatically enrolled at their first duty station (i.e., basic training, direct duty).
    • The option to disenroll must occur within the first three working days of entering active duty.
    • The member's DD Form 2366 (enrollment/disenrollment form) is initiated at the Military Entrance and Processing Station (MEPS), but it must be finalized after the Montgomery GI Bill briefing during the first duty station processing.
  • Officers are not automatically enrolled. They must enroll/disenroll prior to Officer Basic Course (OBC) (within three working days of entering active duty).
  • Individuals entering active duty for the first time (excluding active duty for training (ADT)) from the Selected Reserves are not automatically enrolled. The first duty station must ensure the individual has the opportunity to enroll/disenroll within the first three working days.
  • Disenrollment is a one-time, irrevocable decision.
  • Enrollment
    • Individual signs a statement of understanding, Department of Defense Form 2366, that they agree to a $100/month reduction in pay during first 12 months of active service
    • Monies reduced are not taxable and not refundable.
    • Monies reduced cannot be stopped or suspended

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, can help. Sign up for a free membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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