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GI Bill for the 21st Century

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Updated April 28, 2014

Congress has revamped the GI Bill for military members (including active duty, Reserves, and National Guard), who have at least 90 days of active duty service after September 11, 2001. The new program, commonly referred to as the "GI Bill for the 21st Century," offers substantial increases in monthly education benefits. The post 9/11 program goes into effect on August 1, 2009 and includes provisions to pay full tuition, $1,000 per year for books and supplies, and a monthly housing stipend.

Effective Date

The new bill actually goes into effect during the 2008/2009 school year, but Congress has given the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) until August 1, 2009 to publish the new rates (which depends on the state one is attending college in). However, veterans eligible for the new program, who are currently going to school under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) will see their monthly rate increase to $1,321 ($200 per month more than the current GI Bill). When the VA determines the actual rates in August 2009, these veterans will receive a lump-sum payment for the difference.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the new program, you must have served a total of at least 90 days on active duty, after 9/11. If you have a total of 6 months or more of post 9/11 active duty service, time does not have to be continuous. Active duty service, for the purpose of this new bill, doesn't count active duty time spent in initial entry training (IET), meaning time in basic training, initial job training, service academies, OCS/OTS, and ROTC.

Under the MGIB, officers who received their commission through a service academy, or an ROTC scholarship were ineligible. There are no such restrictions under the new program. Any officer who were previously ineligible, will be eligible for the new program, assuming they have at least 90 days of post 9/11 active duty service.

Similarly, military members who previously declined the MGIB are eligible for the new program.

New Rates

The new rates depends on the length of your post 9/11 active duty service, your state of residence, and the number of courses you take. Like the MGIB, the 21CGIB pays 36 months of full time education benefits. So, if you go to school full-time, you'll receive the full benefit rates for 36 months. If you go to school 1/2 time, you'll receive half of your monthly entitlement for 72 months, etc. the 21CGIB pays up to 100 percent of the full tuition rate set by your state. Additionally, you will receive $1,000 per year for books and supplies, and you will receive a housing stipend equal to the Housing Allowance for an E-5 with Dependents. The average housing allowance for an E-5 with dependents is about $1,400 per month, but your actual rate will depend on where you live.

Your actual portion of the above rates depends on the number of months of your post 9/11 active duty service. You will receive:

    100% - 36 or more total months
    100% - 30 or more consecutive days with a disability-related discharge.
    90% - 30 total months
    80% - 24 total months
    70% - 18 total months
    60% - 12 total months
    50% - 6 total months
    40% - 90 or more consecutive days

    *Note: Post 9/11 active duty service of 24 or more months includes IET active duty service (basic training and job training) for enlisted members. When computing active duty time for enlisted who have less than 24 months of post 9/11 active duty service, time in IET doesn't count. For officers, time spent in the service academies, ROTC, and OTS/OCS doesn't count.

Your tuition is paid directly to the school, while the book/supply entitlement and monthly housing allowance are paid directly to you. Veterans who are attending school through distance learning, and those going to school 1/2 time or less, do not receive the housing allowance.

Additionally, military members who use the benefit while still on active duty, do not receive the housing allowance, as their housing needs are already being taken care of by the military.

Contributions

Unlike the MGIB and VEAP, the new MGIB does not require you to elect or decline, nor make monthly contributions. Unfortunately, if you've already contributed to your GI Bill, you won't get your money back, unless you use all of your new GI Bill entitlements. If you do, your $1,200 contribution to the MGIB (or a porportional amount, if you used any of your MGIB entitlement) will be added to your final new GI Bill education payment. If you're currently paying into the MGIB, you can stop now, and still be eligible for the new program, beginning in August 2009.

College Funds

If you're eligible for a "kicker," such as the Army or Navy College Fund, or a Reserve "Kicker," you will still receive the extra monthly benefit under the new GI bill. This monthly amount will be paid to you, not to the university.

College Loan Repayment

Individuals who were previously ineligible for the MGIB because they elected the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP), are eligible for the new GI Bill, but only active duty service performed after their initial active duty service obligation count toward the new benefits. In other words, if you initially enlisted for five years and received the CLRP, you would have to reenlist or extend your enlistment in order to take advantage of the new GI Bill.

Transferring Benefits to Dependents The new GI Bill allows a member to transfer part or all of his/her education benefits to a spouse or child(ren). To be eligible, a member must have at least six years of active duty or active reserve service, and agree to serve for an additional four years.

Expiration Date

The MGIB expires 10 years after your last discharge. The new GI Bill extends this by five years. The benefits expire 15 years after your last discharge.

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