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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Part 8 -- Education Benefits and Enlisted College/Commissioning Programs

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Graduate receiving a diploma, close-up of hands
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay / Photodisc / Getty Images
Continued from Part 7

Active Duty Montgomery G. I. Bill

The ADMGIB is the same for all of the active duty services. The choice of whether or not to participate in the program is up to the recruit, and is made (after a briefing) in basic training. This is a one-time-choice, and you don't get the chance to change your mind later.

If a recruit elects to participate, his/her military pay is reduced by $100 per month for 12 months ($1,200 total). In return, the recruit receives education benefits worth $37,224 ($30,240 for a two year enlistee). Under the current law, Congress can increase these amounts each year to match inflation.

The active duty G.I. Bill Benefits can be used while on active duty, or after (honorable) discharge (Note: Benefits expire 10 years after discharge).

To use MGIB while on active duty, you must serve two continuous years of active duty.

To use MGIB after (honorable) separation from active duty:

  • With 3 Years of Active Duty. You must have served three continuous years of active duty, unless you were (honorably) discharged early for one of for one of a very few specific reasons (such as medical).

  • With 2 Years of Active Duty. You only need two continuous years of active duty if
    • You first enlisted for two years of active duty, or
    • You have an obligation to serve four years in the Selected Reserve (the 2 X 4 program). You must enter the Selected Reserve within one year of your release from active duty. OR
    • You were separated (honorably) early for one of the very specific reasons allowed (such as medical).
When used after getting out of the military, the G.I. Bill pays more. When used while on active duty, the G.I. Bill only pays for the cost of tuition for the course. Because of this, most people do not use the G.I. Bill while on active duty, but -- instead -- use the military's active duty tuition assistance program (discussed below).

It's important to note that if you are separated early, and lose your G. I. Bill qualification, you do not get your money back. This is because (under the law), the money taken out of your pay is not considered a "contribution," but rather a "reduction in pay."

For detailed information about the Active Duty G. I. Bill, see The Active Duty Montgomery G. I. Bill.

Reserve/Guard Montgomery G. I. Bill

Basically, this is the same as the Active Duty Montgomery G. I. Bill, with a few exceptions:

Your military pay is not reduced for this program. However, your monetary benefits are not nearly as generous as the Active Duty Program. Education benefits for the Guard/Reserve Montgomery G. I. Bill are worth a total of $10,692. You must enlist for a period of six years or more. You can begin using the benefits immediately after boot camp and AIT/Tech School/A-School, but benefits terminate if you don't serve your entire enlistment contract period. Benefits expire 14 years after the date you become eligible for the program (even if you don't separate). Fore detailed information about the Reserve Montgomery G. I. Bill, see The Guard/Reserve Montgomery G. I. Bill.

College Funds and College Loan Repayment Program

"College Funds" and the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) are discussed in Part 4 of this series.

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