Are You Using Your VA Education Benefits?

Montgomery GI Bill, Chapter 30-
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), commonly known as Chapter 30, provides educational
benefits for a period of up to 36 months. These benefits can be used towards a college
degree, certificate program, apprenticeship or on the job training and correspondence
courses. In certain circumstances, remedial, deficiency or refresher courses may be

Am I Eligible to receive Education Benefits?
In order to be eligible to receive Education Benefits, a service member must meet the
following criteria:

(1) Receive a fully honorable discharge AND complete high school, receive a high
school equivalency certificate or complete 12 hours toward a college degree.
(2) Establish eligibility by meeting one of these four categories:

  • Category 1-Entered active duty after June 30, 1985, and did not decline MGIB in writing.
  • Category 2-Have remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill.
  • Category 3-Separated under the SSB (Special Separation Benefit) or VSI (Voluntary Separation Incentive) program or involuntarily separated for certain reasons.
  • Category 4-Converted VEAP (Veterans Educational Assistance Program) to MGIB during the open window periods or elected the MGIB during a brief opportunity as a member of the National Guard by July 9, 1997 and paid $1,200.

What is my Entitlement?
“Entitlement” is how many months of benefits you are eligible to receive. You may
receive a maximum of 36 months of benefits under MGIB. If you completed the
required period of your service, you are eligible for the full 36 months of education
benefits. If you separated early for any of the following reasons, you are still eligible for
MGIB benefits:
• Reduction in Force
• Service-Connected Disability
• Hardship
• Previous Medical Condition
• Physical or Mental Condition that interfered with performance of your duty and did not
the result in willful misconduct on your part
• Convenience of the Government

If you qualify for MGIB with an early separation for the Convenience of the Government,
you may still be eligible for the full 36 months of MGIB benefits:
-If your obligation was 3 or more years, you must have 30 continuous months of active duty
-If your obligations were less than 3 years, you must have 20 continuous months of active duty.

If your early separation was for any of the other reasons listed above, you will earn one month of benefits for each month of active duty. If separating early, make sure you
communicate with an education counselor to ensure your separation reason meets the
requirements for the MGIB and you donʼt lose your benefits!

What if Iʼm eligible for more than one benefit?
If you are eligible for more than one VA education program, you may receive a
combined maximum of 48 months benefits. However, you can only receive payment
under one benefits program at a time. You must select which benefit you want to receive.
This doesnʼt mean one or the other- it means one at a time. You should contact you VA education counselor to explore your options and ensure you get the maximum use of your benefits.

What if I can only study part-time?
Your entitlement is charged at one full day for each day of full-time benefits. If you are
only attending a program part-time, your benefits are adjusted and charged according to
the time you are attending. For example, if you receive part-time benefits for 12
months, you are only using six months of your entitlement. If you receive full-time
benefits for 12 months, you are using 12 months of your entitlement

What if my entitlement ends in the middle of a semester or program?
If your entitlement ends in the middle of a quarter, semester, or term, it can be extended
through the end of that term. If youʼve completed at least half of your program and your
the school doesnʼt operate on a term basis, your entitlement can be extended up to 12
weeks. However, if your eligible for a combined 48 months of benefits, entitlement
cannot be extended beyond 48 months.

What if Iʼm called to duty during the middle of a semester or program?
If you are called to active duty in the middle of a semester or program, your entitlement
will be restored to you for that period. For example, if you were in school two months
and had to withdraw, you get to keep the money for that period and two months are
added to your entitlement to be used at a later time.

What if Iʼm enrolled in a program while on active duty and have to withdraw?
If you are taking courses using your MGIB benefits while on active duty and have to
drop out of school because of an increased workload or new duty, your entitlement can
be restored for the period lost as described above.

Can I receive an increase above the Basic Rates?
Yes. You can receive increases above the basic rates through the $600 Buy-Up
Program and the College Fund (MGIB Kicker).

• $600 Buy-Up Program: Active Duty service members have the opportunity to
contribute up to $600 to receive an increase above their basic monthly rates. You will
receive an additional $5 on you monthly MGIB full-time rate for every $20 you
contribute. If you contribute the maximum $600 and are eligible for the maximum 36
months of MGIB benefits, your total benefits will increase by $5,400. You must make
the additional $600 contributions while you are on active duty!

• College Fund (MGIB Kicker): If you have a critical occupational specialty, you may
have been awarded the College Fund as an incentive when you entered active duty.
You receive your College Fund money when you receive your MGIB. It is divided into
monthly payments that are added to your basic MGIB rate.

What programs can I use my educational benefits for?
Each program offered by a school or company MUST be approved by the VA or a State
agency. Eligible veterans may use education benefits for any of the following:

• An Undergraduate or Graduate degree at a College or University
• A Certificate or Diploma from a Business,Technical or Vocational School
• Correspondence Courses
• Apprentice/ Job Training
• Accredited Independent Study Courses
• Flight Training
• High-Tech Training
• Licensing & Certification Tests
• Entrepreneurship Training
• Training to Help you Run a Small Business
• Some Entrance Exams
• Remedial, Deficiency or Refresher Training

Is there an allowance for individual tutoring?
If you have a deficiency in a subject and attend school at a rate of one-half time or
more, you may receive a maximum monthly payment for tutoring of $100 and a total
benefit of $1,200. Your entitlement will only be charged after the first $600 of tutorial
assistance. The charge to your entitlement is calculated by dividing the amount paid
beyond $600 by your full-time rate for schooling. Complete VA Form 22-1990t,
Application and Enrollment Certification for Individualized Tutorial Assistance to apply.

Can I receive work-study benefits while using my MGIB benefits?
Yes. If you are training at a minimum of a three-quarter rate, you may be eligible for an
additional allowance with the work-study program. The maximum number of hours you
are allowed to work is the number of weeks in your enrollment period times 25. You will
be paid at the greater of the State or Federal minimum wage. The work study program
requires that you work at one of the following:

• A State Approved Agency
• A VA Facility
• A State Veterans Home or Cemetery
• The School or Training Center you are attending

Will my benefits ever expire?
Yes. You are only eligible for MGIB benefits 10 years from the date of your last
separation from active duty. If you donʼt use them by this time, you will lose them.

Can I request a time extension?
Your MGIB benefits can be extended if you were unable to use them during the 10-year
period due to a disability or because you were held by a foreign government or other
power. An extension will be granted equal to the period of time you were unable to use
them. Your benefits can also be extended if you reenter active duty for 90 continuous
days or more. Your new 10-year eligibility period will start over as your last separation
from active duty. You may still qualify for an extension if your service is less than 90
days due to a service-connected disability, preexisting medical condition, hardship or
reduction in force.

What if I want to change my program?
If your performance was satisfactory in your last program, you can receive benefits for
one change of program without VA approval. Additional changes can be approved if the
proposed program is suitable to your interests and abilities.

Can my benefits ever be suspended?
If you do not meet your schoolʼs standards for attendance, conduct and progress, your
benefits will be suspended until the cause of your unsatisfactory performance has been

Are my benefits more while on Active Duty or after Separation?
On active duty you are unable to receive any increases above Basic Rates (unless your
courses are really expensive) because your payments are limited to tuition and fees.
So generally, your benefits are less while on active duty.

For example, assume you are on active duty and your basic monthly MGIB rate for full
time training is $1,564. Also assume you have an additional amount of $335 from the
College Fund, so your MGIB rate is $1,899 a month. If you take courses while on active
duty and the charge for the semester (assume 3 month semester) is $2,400, you would
receive $800 a month. After you are honorably discharged, you would receive $1,899
monthly full-time for the same course.

What if I have dependents?
You will receive a minimal monthly increase for each dependent you have.

Should I convert my current GI Bill over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill?
You generally receive a higher payout under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You should talk to
your education counselor and compare the benefits of each bill. As stated above, you
may be eligible for more than one benefit. It is possible to use all 36 months of your GI
BIll, and then convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill for an additional 12 months to reach your
maximum 48 months of entitlement. If you transfer your MGIB mid-use, you may only
be eligible for a maximum of 36 months of entitlement so make sure you discuss your
options with your educational counselor to maximize your benefits.
Under certain circumstances you can transfer your Entitlement to your spouse or
dependent(s) under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so that may be another reason for conversion.
If you are interested in converting your current MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI BIll, you should
discuss the benefits with your education counselor who will help you complete and
submit VA Form 22-1990.

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