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thedrifter
07-02-09, 07:02 AM
GI Bill benefits: Know what you're getting
Lance Cpl. Stefanie C. Pupkiewicz

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa (July 1, 2009) -- The new GI bill goes into effect August 1. Applications to transfer from Chapter 30, the Montgomery GI Bill, to Chapter 33, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, are already being accepted.

The applications can be submitted online through the Veterans Affairs Web site at http://www.gibill.va.gov or through the VA representative at the university or college.

The application is an irreversible decision to receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits by forfeiting the benefits of the Montgomery GI Bill, said Bill Davis, the veteran's affairs representative for Okinawa.

If veterans are seeking to attend traditional colleges or universities then the new bill would probably be the most beneficial, Davis said. But, for other kinds of training such as technical or trade skills, the veteran should carefully evaluate the differences between both bills.

The only time line that veterans are under when opting for the new bill is the requirement of the Montgomery GI Bill to use it within 10 years of discharge. Veterans must decide to change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or use the Montgomery GI Bill before the expiration of the 10 years or both opportunities are forfeit.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill will not pay for anything prior to August 1.

In order for the VA to be billed for the cost of tuition, recipients of the new bill must go to their college or university and be certified through the VA certification official there. Once they are certified, the benefits are turned on, Davis said.

These benefits include tuition, fees and a basic allowance for housing. All three of these benefits vary from state to state.

To figure out how much tuition is available in an individual state, visit the following VA Web site http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Tuition_and_fees.htm. The tuition is broken down by credit hour. Most of the classes in college or university are three credits. If a person is attending school in Colorado then he or she will receive up to $419 per credit hour or $1,257 per average class.

The Web site also includes the maximum amount the VA will cover for school fees. In addition to the regular school fees; such as library or lab fees, the new bill will also cover the cost of health care that most colleges offer to students and even bus passes, according to the United States Code Title 38, Part III, Chapter 33.

Recipients of the new bill receive a basic allowance for housing at an E-5 with dependents rate in the zip code of the college or university of attendance. To determine the basic allowance for housing enter the university or college zip code and select the E-5 rate at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/perdiem/bah.html.

Another consideration recipients should take into account is the basic allowance for housing they receive is only for the nine month duration of the school year, according to the USC Title 38, Part III, Chapter 33.

Continuing receipt of the basic allowance for housing or to take summer classes will count as days against the overall 36 month entitlement of the Post 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill.

The bill covers 36 months of academic aid. If recipients use it only when they are in class then it will last for the whole of the undergraduate degree. If the basic allowance for housing continues over the winter and summer breaks then the aid will stop after the third year.

It would be advisable to look over both bills before making the irrevocable decision to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Davis said.

For more information concerning both GI Bills, visit the VA Web site at http://www.gibill.va.gov/.

Ellie