If you’re a military family, I hope that you’re making the Post 9/11 GI Bill a part of your college saving plan, whether you’re saving for yourself or for your children. When you talk about getting the biggest bang for your buck with college savings plans, nothing holds a candle to the higher education opportunities provided by the GI Bill.
What is the Post 9/11 GI Bill?
The Post 9/11 GI Bill is basically an upgraded and transferable version of its predecessor, the Montgomery GI Bill. Whereas the Montgomery GI Bill only provided benefits to the service member up to 10 years after separation from service, the Post 9/11 GI Bill provides an added benefit of transferring the education benefits to an spouse or dependent child.
Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits include:
- 36 months of benefits (not consecutive)
- Tuition & Fees paid directly to the school
- Housing Allowance paid to the student monthly
- Books & Supplies Stipend paid to the student annually
It is important to know that the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill are not automatic enrollment programs. Servicemembers must elect (read: say) they want the benefits and apply for them to receive them.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: “If you meet the service requirements for the Post-9/11 GI Bill you will be eligible, even if you declined to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill” (which required a $1200 pay-in). -From GI Bill FAQs…if you have other questions, start here for answers (Thanks, Rachel).
Transferability is also not an automatic benefit of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The service member must apply to be able to transfer benefits to a spouse or dependent child. To learn more about how to apply to transfer educational benefits, visit the VA’s GI Bill Website.
Should I Transfer My Post 9/11 GI Bill?
So, if you transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill to a spouse or child, how do the benefits break down? Good question. Luckily, I made a handy dandy chart to show you exactly who gets what when you choose to transfer benefits:
Note: Active duty service members only receive MHA if they use their benefits after separation. Spouses DO NOT receive the book and supply stipend if the servicemember is active duty. (Thanks, Rachel!)
Notice how spouses aren’t eligible for the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)? You might not think that’s a big deal, but it totally is.
Not too long ago, I was considering returning to school to broaden my horizons. It sounded like a sweet deal, especially since we had the ability to tap into Homeskillet’s education benefits. At first, I didn’t think too much about losing out on the housing allowance…can’t be that big a deal, right? Wrong.
Based on current rates, the Monthly Housing Allowance is equivalent to BAH for an E-5 with dependents for my zip code, or $1662 per month. Based on my Tampa location, and the 18 months of benefits I’d wind up using, we’d be missing out on roughly $29,916. Not on my watch.
At that point, we made the decision that transferring the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to the girls was the best idea for us.
Want to transfer and you’re close to separation or retirement? Better act fast! Transferring benefits might require additional service commitments. Read more under “Eligibility” on the VA’s Transfer of Educational Benefits (TEB) page.
Splitting Benefits Between Children
Luckily, you don’t have to play favorites to decide which child gets the benefits, rejoice! The Post 9/11 GI Bill allows you to share the benefits between eligible family members. We’re still hatching the best way to divvy out the plan, but we’ve got options. We can exhaust the GI Bill on one child and use our 529 Plan to cover the other, or we can do a blend, where we give each girl an equal share of the GI Bill and the 529.
Regardless, you’ve got 36 months of benefits to split up. Remember, each semester is a little over 16 weeks, or 4.5 months, so one school year is equivalent to 9 months of schooling. And that means that 36 months of benefits with the GI Bill should cover 4 years of schooling.
Remember: If the servicemember used any of their education benefits during active duty service, they will only be able to transfer whatever remaining benefits are left. For example, if a member used 24 months of benefits while active duty, they can only transfer the remaining 12 months. (Thanks, Cindy!)
Post 9/11 GI Bill: Show Me The Money
Now what you want to know is exactly how much money these educational benefits are actually worth. I can show you what benefits look like given today’s dollars, but I cannot tell you what they’ll look like 5, 10, or 15 years down the road.
Here’s a general breakdown of benefits in today’s dollars excluding unique circumstance:
Tutition & Fees
- Public School: all tuition and fees for in-state student
- Private or Foreign: Up to $18.077.50 per academic year
MHA (Full-Time Enrollment)
- Within US: BAH for E-5 w/ Dependents (visit the calculator)
- US Territories: E-5 w/ Dependents OHA
- Online Education w/o Classroom Time: $648
Books & Supply Stipend: $1000/year
Not too shabby, right? Anybody breathing a little bit easier about their college savings goals? I know I am.
Still have questions? Call your installation’s Education Office or VA Office for more information!
Have you transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits or are you planning on doing so? Is there anything I didn’t cover that you’d like to know? Let me know below!
Piggy Bank image from 401(k) 2013′s Flickr stream.
Powered by Facebook Comments