Short answer: You cannot switch from the Montgomery GI Bill to Post-9/11 GI Bill, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. You must pick which benefit you want to use, and it’s a decision you can’t undo. This means you can’t change your mind after the fact.
If you are eligible for both the Montgomery GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill, which might be the case for some service members depending on when you entered service, you have to decide which benefit you’ll use before you leave the service.
However, we can help you decide which benefit to choose before the point of no return.
Paying for college as a veteran can be a complicated process. While many veterans qualify for aid through GI Bill benefits, there are different versions of the bill that are important to understand.
There are two primary sources of education benefits for veterans through the Department of Veteran Affairs: The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Both were created to provide financial assistance to returning service members, but eligibility and entitlement vary, and the benefits are quite different.
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
The Montgomery GI Bill has two categories: The MGIB-Active Duty (AD) and MGIB-Selected Reserve (SR). The MGIB-AD is for active duty veterans, and provides up to $2,122 per month for education assistance.
The MGIB-SR is open to reserve and the National Guard forces, and provides $397 per month to full-time students. Both are paid directly to the students, rather than the university they attend.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is only available to veterans who served for at least 90 days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001. To qualify for the maximum benefit, veterans must have served for three full years.
Those who qualify for the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill can receive full tuition assistance at an in-state public school of their choosing, and up to $26,042 per academic year at a private or foreign school. Those who served for at least 90 days can receive 50 percent of the maximum amount. Veterans also receive a monthly housing allowance and $1,000 book stipend per school year.
Which GI Bill is right for you depends on your education goals and your service history in the armed forces. For veterans who want to attend school full-time, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides more educational assistance overall. However, if you plan to attend part-time, you may have a better outcome by pursuing the MGIB.
Another aspect worth considering is the option to transfer benefits to family members. Under the Post-9/11, veterans can transfer benefits to a spouse or dependent children, so long as you’ve completed at least six years of service on the date your request is approved, and you agree to add four more years of service. Additionally, the person getting benefits must enroll in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) with the Department of Defense (DoD).
How should I decide between Montgomery or Post-911?
A few factors are worth considering when determining which GI Bill is best as you return to civilian life. Both help veterans pay for post-military education, but here are a few factors to consider when comparing the two.
Are you eligible?
It’s important first to determine your GI Bill eligibility. The MGIB requires that veterans have two years of active duty to receive the benefit. However, the Post-9/11 GI Bill requires three years of service to get the maximum benefit. The timeframe matters, though: To receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you have to have served on or after September 11, 2001.
Pay structure differences
As discussed above, the payout for each bill is quite different. While the MGIB pays out directly to veterans each month, the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays tuition assistance directly to the school plus a monthly stipend for housing, depending on location.
What are your education goals?
For veterans passionate about returning to school full-time, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will provide a great payout over time. This is especially true for students who want to attend a more expensive college or university.
Another benefit with the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the Yellow Ribbon Program, which will bridge the gap between what GI Bill can cover and any additional out-of-state or graduate program fees.
Veterans who plan to attend only part-time might be better off with the MGIB, because the Post-9/11 GI Bill bill won’t pay a basic allowance for housing to students who attend at a rate of less than 50 percent.
Duration of benefits
The duration of benefits is different for each bill and depends on when your service ended.
Veterans who stopped serving before January 1, 2013, will lose their benefits 15 years after their last separation date. Veterans who ended their service on or after that date will never lose their benefits, thanks to the Forever GI Bill.
The MGIB benefits are usually only available for 10 years, depending on your situation.
Am I Eligible to Transfer Benefits?
Unfortunately, veterans cannot transfer benefits from one GI Bill program to another. Suppose you’ve discovered that you’re eligible for both. In that case, it’s best to carefully consider your education goals and plans before choosing a program.
Veterans Can Learn Programming with Eleven Fifty Academy
Getting back into the swing of civilian life is a challenge for many veterans, but pursuing higher learning with Eleven Fifty Academy is a great way to find a sense of community and feel empowered by picking up new skills.
Eleven Fifty Academy offers several IT programs for veterans. Our immersive bootcamps in coding and cybersecurity help veterans train to be job-ready in a matter of months. Employers today understand the many benefits of hiring veterans, and our job placement rate should be promising to prospective students. There are plenty of tech jobs for veterans out there, from web developer positions to cybersecurity analysts and more.
If you’re curious about what a bootcamp looks like at Eleven Fifty, consider attending a free coding class to learn how to apply and understand everything you need to know about becoming a student, from filling out an application to discussing financial aid.
Eleven Fifty’s training for veterans is perfect for returning service members ready to start a new and exciting career in tech.