All this talk about the GI Bill got me thinking…wait a minute, it’s mid March and I’m about to start school in either July or August. We are dealing with the government and a hailstorm of paperwork is about to happen. I probably need to make sure everything is squared away right now. I don’t think I’m starting on the same page as everyone as I have already received my Certificate of Eligibility in January 2011. I pulled out my letter and it states that I’m entitled to 36 months of the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), which is what I paid for when I enlisted in 2005. “Under Chapter 30, Active Duty members enroll and pay $100 per month for 12 months.” Beyond the $1,200, I also participated in the “kicker program” for an extra $600. Here is the increased rates chart. The MGIB provides up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans for:
Technical or Vocational Courses
Licensing & Certification Tests
Certain Entrance Examinations
This is a good time to pause and consider what I would be giving up if I converted to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Here is the chart off of the Veterans Administration’s (VA) website. I am only comparing MGIB-AD to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Apparently it all looks the same except for the tuition payments. The Post 9/11 GI Bill gives you the following:
Tuition: 100% for in-state tuition, $17,500 max per year for private schools, paid to school
Housing stipend: E-5 BAH, paid to student
Books & Supplies: $1,000 per year, paid to student at the beginning of the term
The MGIB would pay me $1,473.00 per month, plus $150.00 for the kicker for a total of $1,623 per month. It almost makes no sense to use the MGIB because the housing allowance alone under the Post 9/11 GI Bill may be more than $1,623, depending on where you are going to school.
Before we get to conversion, I found this interesting note on the top of the VA page:
Beginning August 1, 2011, break (or interval pay) will no longer be payable under MGIB-AD except during periods your school is closed as a result of an Executive Order of the President or an emergency (such as a natural disaster or strike). For example, if your Fall term ends on December 15th and your Spring term begins January 10th, your January housing allowance will cover 15 days in December and your February housing allowance will cover 21 days in January.
What this means is have some spare cash around and don’t only depend on your GI Bill for everything.
The next step is getting access to Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) and eBenefits. Apparently, it looks like VONAPP is a subsystem within eBenefits as I have two different logins. I’m still trying to figure out why, but anyways, now I remember how I got my certificate of eligibility (COE). For eBenefits, there is a basic account and a premium account. Get a Basic Account instantly, then upgrade to a Premium DS Logon in person at a TRICARE Service Center (TSC). There is a form on VONAPP called “VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits” and that is what you fill out to get the COE. Apparently, this is the same form you use to switch from MGIB to Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Here’s an interesting tidbit on the first page:
By electing Chapter 33, I acknowledge that I understand the following:
I may not receive more than a total of 48 months of benefits under two or more programs.
If electing chapter 33 in lieu of chapter 30, my months of entitlement under chapter 33 will be limited to the number of months of entitlement remaining under chapter 30 on the effective date of my election. However, if I completely exhaust my entitlement under chapter 30 before the effective date of my chapter 33 election, I may receive up to 12 additional months of benefits under chapter 33.
My election is irrevocable and may not be changed.
I elect to receive Chapter 33 Education Benefits in lieu of the Education Benefit checked below,
So basically, if you used 0-35 months of your MGIB, you are entitled to 36 minus what you used. If you used all 36 months of your MGIB, you actually get an additional 12 months of post 9/11 GI Bill for a total of 48 months of benefits. This is kind of interesting, but I don’t really see how veterans would get into this position. Perhaps, you could have used your MGIB before the Post 9/11 GI Bill was signed into law for a 4-year undergraduate degree, and now you have one extra year for graduate school. For me, it makes more sense to convert it all to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m just going to convert it all right now. It took me around 15 minutes to complete the form. I also figured out that I could use the GI Bill to pay for my upcoming GMAT and previous CFA. The question that remains is if it is worth it? That will be the subject of another post later on. Note, I did take a free GMAT and GRE while on active duty through a different Army program, talk to your base education center. Search for other certification for certification / licensing exams here.
Next Thursday, March 22nd, I have a special post with an interview with Richard Carbone. Richard Carbone is executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Prudential Financial, responsible for its treasury, controllership, tax, business line CFO functions and M&A activity. Prudential Financial is a diversified financial services company that was ranked #64 on the 2011 Fortune 500 list. Richard received an MBA from St. John’s University and is a Certified Public Accountant. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps from 1969 to 1972.