How to Use Two GI Bills to Make the Most of Your Benefit

Military Transition

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The GI Bill is a great benefit. But there are tips to keep in mind to make the most of your GI Bill. Here are some considerations for taking advantage of two or more GI Bills.

Many veterans today have both the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). And while each GI Bill provides up to 36 months of benefits singularly, students can get up to 48 months combined if they know how to use the benefits. Used incorrectly, they only get 36 months.

Why only 48 months between the two GI Bills instead of 72? The Rule of 48 limits the number of months to 48 when holding multiple GI Bills, instead of 36 months from each GI Bill.

Having 48 months of education benefits available is enough for a bachelor’s degree (four 9-month academic years) with enough left over for a good start on a master’s degree. Or if the veteran made a transfer of benefits while serving, those additional 12 months could fund at least a year of college for a dependent family member.

But to get the 48 months of benefits from both GI Bills, the 36 months from the MGIB must be first exhausted. Then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to use the additional 12 months of benefits. This makes sense if going for an advanced degree, as the payment structure is significantly higher under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which times perfectly with the higher cost of graduate school. And no, the two GI Bills cannot be used in reverse – using 36 months of the Post 9/11 first and then 12 months of the MGIB.

When Should You Just Use the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

If graduate school is not part of your education goal, then it is better in most cases to switch right away to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use just the 36 months at the higher pay rate.

Just how much is the difference in payments? Under the MGIB, students are paid a flat $1,928 per month. Out of that monthly amount, a student must pay their own tuition, books and other education-related expenses.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, tuition is paid in full at a public school, or up to $22,805.34 per year at a private school. Also, with the New GI Bill, students get a monthly housing allowance based on the number of credits taken and zip code of the school. Many times, the Post 9/11 GI Bill MHA alone is more than what the MGIB pays. And the Post 9/11 GI Bill also provides up to $1,000 per year in book stipend money.

Next week, we’ll look at some ways to cover the difference between what a student receives under the GI Bill and what a school charges. It is not all doom and gloom when it comes to the high cost of college!

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.