Post-9/11 GI Bill – What’s the latest?

There are some major deadlines coming up for the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  If you are a Junior Military Officer thinking about transitioning out of the military, this may be a factor you have been considering in trying to pursue a Masters.  This is a very good benefit offered to military personnel, but I frequently get questions about some areas of the program.   

Information about the program is available on the VA site at: http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/benefits.htm#CH33.  However, I still had some questions so I called the toll free hotline.  I talked with a representative who was helpful and knowledgeable and who gave me additional insight into some of the areas that are still a little vague.

 

Here are a couple of areas to consider if you are trying to factor this benefit into your plans:

 

  • The best summary of the bill I’ve seen so far is at the following link.  It is put together by a veterans organization and has some of the most current information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill. http://www.gibill2008.org/Assets/PDFs/IAVA_GIBill2008_FAQ.pdf
  • Officers are eligible for the benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill but their ability to increase the percentage of the benefits begins at the end of their obligated service from their commissioning source.  When you review the eligibility chart in the above .pdf, keep in mind that the time periods noted would be after your initial obligation.
  • I’ve seen some interesting notes on tuition and fees.  Some of the initial information estimated that the average tuition benefit covered by the bill would be $6000 per year.  However, earlier this year, the VA came out with the estimated benefits by state and they appear to average much higher than the initial estimate.  You can see the state-by-state summary at http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Tuition_and_fees.htm.
    • Due to this difference, I called the VA and discussed the chart with them on the phone.  When I asked if the numbers were still under review due to the “second look” referred to in late February by Rep. Sandlin, the VA representative said there was little information about if and when the tuition amounts will be finalized.

 

I truly am surprised by some of the numbers,” said Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs economic opportunity subcommittee.


“I understand VA is reviewing those numbers and is taking a second look at other state approving agencies in calculating and reporting the costs to be covered. But if those numbers hold true, we need to have a conversation with the higher education industry.”

 

  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) is different from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB – Chapter 30).  If you have eligibility or are using the MGIB, you may want to compare the benefits of one program vs. the other.  If you apply for and accept the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you will no longer have MGIB eligibility.
  • The VA will start taking applications for the Post-9/11 GI Bill on May 1st, 2009.  The representative with whom I spoke said they are estimating 6-8 weeks for processing applications.  She felt they would be able to get applications through the system more quickly than that.  However, she also said that the tuition payment process will be more complex and may take some time to work out.

 

The bottom line(s): 

  • If you plan to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pursue a full time masters degree, be aware that the total amount listed on the VA website may not be the final cut.  Recognize that the calculations for the amount of tuition and fees covered and the BAH amount can be a bit tricky since they change based on your % of eligibility, number of credit hours you take, and the state in which you will be going to school.
  • The most effective path to a development career in business will continue to be stepping into a leadership position right out of the military.  The good news about getting your career going first is that you allow time for all the questions about the new benefit to be sorted out while moving ahead with your career.  If you do decide to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in the future, your eligibility won’t change after you separate.  Remember, businesses that hire development candidates will play a role in helping you get your MBA.
  • If this is a major factor for you and you want help thinking it through, give me a call.  I am happy to help you add it all up so you can have some real information to work with as you make your decisions.  Our toll free number is a great way to track me down, 800-222-9235 or you can email me at slepage@cameron-brooks.com.