Understand differences before selecting GI Bill options


Mar 13, 2009

3/13/2009  By Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Cailf.  —

On Aug. 1, 2009, veterans and active duty will have the opportunity to decide between the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty.

Any service member who served a minimum of 90 days active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge is eligible for the new GI Bill. Veterans should take a close look at which bill will benefit them the most.

“It really depends on the individual’s situation, completely up to the circumstances,” said Gunnery Sgt. Scott Cavanagh, the education officer for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. “Once a service member decides on a bill, they cannot take the decision back.”

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has not been approved and might change before it’s published in August.

“A lot of the information is still being looked at right now, service members should take a lot of the information they see with a grain of salt,” said Cavanagh.

The modified Post 9/11 GI Bill will be available at the end of service for 15 years, five more years than the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty.

The new bill will also directly pay the educational institution, instead of giving the money directly to the recipient. However, veterans can still attend any school that is approved by the veteran affairs using either bill.

The new bill grants veterans an annual $1,000 book and supply stipend based on enrollment.

An additional benefit veterans may receive under the new bill includes a monthly housing allowance based on the school’s zip code and Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 with dependents.

Service members who have served 90 days after Sept. 10, 2001, will qualify for 40 percent of the money for tuition, books and supplies stipend. The percentage goes up 10 percent every six months in active service, peaking at 36 months when veterans will receive 100 percent benefits from the new Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Veterans may also receive a one-time sum of $500 if they meet one of three requirements: if the individual attends school in an area with six people or less per square mile, if they need to relocate more than 500 miles or if they have to travel by means of airplane. For the veteran to be eligible for this sum, the veteran must have had at least 36 months of active service after Sept. 10, 2001.

Even though the Post 9/11 GI Bill has the potential to give veterans more money, that will not always be the case.

For example, in some colleges the cost for tuition and housing is less than the payment they would receive with the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty.  Also, veterans do not have to pay tuition for selected state colleges in certain states, thus the veteran would only receive the housing benefit and the book stipend.

 “There are many different scenarios they can go into that can change which one is right for them,” said a representative with the GI Bill Veteran Affairs. “It really depends on each veteran.”


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