Montgomery GI Bill User's Guide

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The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is an older GI Bill program that differs greatly from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Click here to learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Your GI Bill can be used to pay for many different programs including the following:

The Montgomery GI Bill is an education benefit worth over $84,000. This amount is based on the 2023-2024 monthly full-time student payment rate of $2,358 multiplied by the 36-month limit. This "payment rate" automatically increases each Oct. 1. You get the annual increase no matter when you became eligible or begin using it.

The term "36 months of benefits" refers to academic months -- time actually enrolled at the full-time rate of pursuit. This means you will have up to eight semesters (four years) of traditional academic education.

Note: Your actual benefits may be higher if you signed up for the Army, Navy or Marine Corps College Funds.

MGIB Eligibility

You qualify for the GI Bill if:

  • You contribute $100 a month for the first 12 months you are on active duty or qualify under Veterans' Educational Assistance Program conversion.
  • You have completed high school or have an equivalency certificate before you apply for benefits.
  • You have served at least two years on active duty.

Check out our detailed explanation of Montgomery GI Bill eligibility for more information.

Your MGIB Payment Rate (How Much You Get)

Your GI Bill monthly payment rate is determined by two factors: your student status (full time, half time or part time) and your duty status. In most cases, you would be considered a full-time student if you are taking 12 or more credits per semester.

If you are on active duty, the GI Bill will  reimburse you only for the actual tuition and expenses. But once you leave active-duty service, the GI Bill will pay the full payment rate no matter how much the tuition costs.

Click here to see the current Montgomery GI Bill payment rates.

When to Use Your Montgomery GI Bill

If you are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, you can begin using your benefit after two years of service. In addition, it is also important to know that for those who left the military Jan. 1, 2013, or later have no time limit to use it. 

However, before you choose to use the MGIB, you should know that it is usually not a good idea to do so while on active duty because the Department of Veterans Affairs administers the program differently for active-duty members and veterans. For instance, a veteran is charged one month of benefits for each $2,358 -- the fiscal 2024 GI Bill "payment rate" -- in education benefits used.

Example: If a veteran receives $8,253 and the current full-time payment rate is $2,358, divide $8,253 by $2,358. The veteran will be charged 3.5 months of the 36 months of benefits.

However, if you are on active duty and go to school full time for four months, you will still be charged four months of benefits even if your tuition is only $1,000. Considering this, it only makes sense to use your MGIB on active duty if your tuition costs are high or you use your "GI Bill Top-Up" benefit.

For those who left the military prior to Jan. 1, 2013, the Montgomery GI Bill has a time limit or expiration date. Once you have left the service, you have 10 years to use it. Any benefit remaining after the 10th anniversary is lost, and you will lose your $1,200 initial contribution.

Note: You should always consult your education service officer before using your GI Bill or taking any college classes. They are trained to give you the counseling that will help you avoid wasting your time and benefits.

When you find a school to attend, be sure to ask the admissions counselor if the school meets the requirements to use the GI Bill. Most regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities have VA-approved programs.

Once you begin attending classes, you need to certify your attendance with VA before you can receive your monthly benefits payments.

Note: Only Department of Veterans Affairs representatives can answer specific questions about your GI Bill account. You can reach them at 888-GIBILL-1.

Step-by-Step Application Instructions

Although the GI Bill application process can be time consuming, it is relatively easy and worth the time invested. In most cases, the process will take you four steps or less.

Step 1: Find a VA-Approved Program

Institutions that receive federal funding such as through the Montgomery GI Bill must adhere to principles such as cost transparency among other guidelines.

Find a school with VA-approved training or education programs. Most regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities have them. Be sure to confirm with the admissions counselor that the school meets the requirements to use the GI Bill. 

Step 2: Apply for Education Benefits

Complete the Application for Education Benefits

After you apply for benefits, you will eventually receive a declaration of eligibility and a letter explaining your GI Bill benefits. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon to get a letter from VA requesting more information. You will have to answer the VA requests in order to get your benefits.

Step 3: Enroll

Enroll in school, and verify that the school submits your enrollment information to VA.

You first can apply for your MGIB benefit without being enrolled in school, and in many cases, this is best. When you choose a school, you can take your eligibility notification from VA to your school when you enroll. This can sometimes speed up the receipt of your benefits.

Step 4: Verify Attendance

Once you are enrolled, you will get a letter from VA explaining your benefits and how to receive payment. For the Montgomery GI Bill, you will have to verify to VA that you are attending school each month before you are paid. You can do this online or via telephone.

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. Subscribe to to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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