One of the payments received by the student from the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the housing allowance. However many students question the amount received monthly and wonder how it is calculated. Each student gets a different amount, as is the case with most of the other GI Bills.

There are three variables used in calculating the housing allowance for classes taken on campus:

  • Zip code
  • Number of credits
  • Tier level

Zip code

Because the zip code of the school is used in the calculations, a student in one school can receive a different amount than a student in another school in the same town if each school is in a different zip code. While the average housing allowance in the United States is $1,300 per month, it can vary up to twice that amount. For example, a full-time student going to Columbia University in New York City would get as high as $3,759 per month while a student attending Central Wyoming College in Riverton, WY would get $1,170.

Number of credits 

Each school has a minimum number of credits that a student must take to be considered full-time. Students using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but taking less than the full-time floor of credits, would receive a pro-rated lesser amount in housing allowance. For instance, if a school has a 12-credit minimum and the student is taking 9 credits, they would receive 9/12ths (3/4ths) of the full amount. Students considered half-time or less (6 credits or less in our example) are not authorized any housing allowance.

Tier level

Students with three or more years of eligible active duty (Title 10) service are authorized 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however, many Selected Reserve (National Guard and Reserve) members are at a lower percentage. As an example a typical one-year deployment for a Selected Reservist awards the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 60% tier level, meaning the student only gets 60% of both the housing allowance and book stipend. And the VA only pays 60% of the resident tuition costs.

The Cumulative Effect

A lesser tier level and a rate of pursuit less than full-time can severely affect the amount a student receives as each are cumulative. Using the same student attending the school in Wyoming and taking 9 credits at the 60% tier level, their housing allowance would drop to about $526 per month from $1,170 if otherwise full-time and at the 100% tier.

Hybrid classes

A mix of online and classroom classes can also affect the housing allowance depending on how many times the class meets on campus. According to the VA to qualify for the full housing allowance, “the total number of hours of classroom instruction must equal, or be greater than, the number of credit hours awarded for the course multiplied by the number of weeks in the term.” For a 3-credit 16-week class, this means it must meet on campus at least 48 hours during that semester. If it does not, the class is considered online-only and if the rest of the classes were all online, the housing allowance would be paid at the online-only rate – up to $783.00 per month.

However there is one loophole left open for online-only students to get the full housing allowance – take at least one class (that applies to your degree plan) at a local school per semester on campus. That changes the authorized housing allowance from the online-only amount to one factoring in the three variables. In most cases, the housing allowance amount doubles or more.

One final note on housing allowance. Students attending a foreign school receive a fixed amount of $1,566 regardless of where they attend.

It is now easy to see why the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance can vary so much. With all the variables involved, an array of different payment amounts is possible even for students going to the same school.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.

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