Vets: what's been your experience with the 9/11 GI Bill?

The title says it all. Those of you who are using the 9/11 GI Bill how has it gone? I realize it doesn’t fully cover tuition. Also if anyone knows…does the 10k of the yellow ribbon program count the VA’s addition? Or does the VA then match that 10k. Thanks in advance! Starting at GS this fall.

I’m in the same boat as you, this is what you should expect to receive as far as veteran related education benefits:

Post 9/11 GI Bill for the maximum annual tuition reimbursement amount for private universities:

  • $24,476.79 (as of August 1, 2019)

Annual Books & Supplies Stipend:

  • $1000.00 Books & Supplies Stipend

Monthly Housing Allowance:

  • $3366.00 x 9 semester months (approximately)

Yellow Ribbon Program:

  • $10,000 from Columbia
  • $10,000 from the VA

Cool. Just as a heads up if you used your GI Bill before January 1st of I believe 2018 then the monthly stipend is $4148.00

Hrmm, could you expand on that? Is there some kind of grandfather clause in effect? I’ve always thought that MHA rates that the GI Bill pays are constantly adjusted year to year just like BAH is for active duty service members, and that you would get paid at whatever the current rate is.

@wtbaisley when you start at Columbia, your GI Bill will readjust back down to $3366. You’re only grandfathered into the previous rate if you stay in the same institution. Once you start at a new school, it will adjust to the current MHA rate.


Honest question, are you sure? Here’s what it says on the Student Financial Services page. Sounds just like a first use, not first use at an institution.

"Individuals who first use Post-9/11 GI Bill program on or after January 1, 2018 will receive monthly housing allowance based on DoD’s reduced basic housing allowance (BAH) for monthly housing rates= $3,669.

Those that began using benefits prior to January 1, 2018 will continue to receive a higher monthly housing rate based in the non-adjusted BAH rates= $4,148."

@wtbaisley yes, I’m fairly certain—but I could still be mistaken. I have a buddy that works as a VA rep at a CUNY school, and he confirmed that with me. I also went to my own school’s veterans resource office and specifically asked if my rate would go down and they confirmed that as long as I stay in the same school, my rate would be grandfathered, but would readjust if I attend a different institution.

Also note that your information is from a Columbia website and probably referring to Columbia students that were grandfathered and still plan on attending Columbia—not students transferring from a different institution.

EDIT: I just reread your post and I certainly do see why you’re asking again. The wording DOES seem vague. I did check with two different sources, but VA rules frequently change and are vague to interpret so there is the possibility that I’m wrong.

@joelfromthemoon Thanks for the reply. Hmmm. I definitely believe you. I’ve just never seen that qualification made anywhere. I have an advising appointment on friday for vets…Ill be sure to ask

@wtbaisley yes, please do and report back! I’d love a clarification myself.

I’ve used my G.I bill for two semester at BMCC and my rates went down even though I’m suppose to be “grandfathered in”. I was getting $4100 last semester up until the last month and then I got a letter from the VA stating that my rates would go down.

@wtbaisley did you ever get any clarification on the BAH rates? Is there such a thing as being "grandfathered in " or do you have to be a returning Columbia student.

I’m a veteran with the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program. According to the VA’s GI Bill comparison tool, I would owe $14,403 out of pocket to pay for GS. Does anyone know how accurate this number is? I’m operating on a very tight budget and may decide not to attend GS because it is so expensive, even WITH the GI Bill. Does anyone know how to get out of pocket number down? I really don’t want to graduate with loans.

@ctrl12 how many credits are you planning on taking at columbia GS? I used the tuition calculator on the columbia GS websites and according to that, if I take 26 credits a year, I shouldn’t have to pay much out of pocket, $3000 at most (per year)


You may already be aware of this, but I was not until recently; if you are a veteran that qualifies for the Yellow Ribbon Program, expect to receive zero institutional financial aid/scholarship. Only those veterans who are NOT eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program are eligible to receive institutional financial aid/scholarship.

That said, there are a couple things you can do to lower the out-of-pocket expense and keep your costs at or below the combined amount you will receive from the GI Bill + Yellow Ribbon Program.

If you’re covered under VA healthcare or other private healthcare insurance, you can forego the $3,433 per-year student healthcare plan and cut that expense out of the equation.

If you do not plan on working while attending Columbia and don’t already already qualify to receive a Pell Grant, you can contact the GS financial aid office to fill out and submit an income adjustment statement in order to qualify for a Pell Grant of up to $6095 per year. This is assuming that you did not previously qualify for a Pell Grant because you applied for financial aid using your 2017 tax returns which reflected earning an income during that tax year.

Columbia charges tuition a per credit basis; this is unlike most other colleges that charge a flat tuition rate for 12-17 credits. Your 36 months of GI Bill usage is used up by the day, not by the semester, so with the length of Columbia’s semesters in terms of days, the GI Bill will you last you just about 5 years if used at Columbia. So, if necessary in order to keep per-semester tuition costs as low as possible, you could elect to take a lower number of credits per semester and just attend for a longer amount of time.

Good luck!

There’s also the New York State Veteran’s scholarship. You have to live in New York for 12 months prior to the start of the term. It’s about $7 grand.

I’d be aware of that if you’re deciding to live in New Jersey.


Where did you read that the GI Bill expires by the day, and not by the month or semester? I’m on the VA’s website right now looking at the GI Bill section, but I can’t find anything regarding how it could possibly be used for 5 years. It specifically says the GI Bill can be used for 36 months.

Also, can anyone answer how much they had to pay OUT OF POCKET while using the GI Bill + Yellow Ribbon Program?

How did you calculate your total out of pocket cost? The GI Bill Calculator says that Columbia charges a total of $57,208 for fees and tuition. I’m assuming you didn’t factor in living expenses and health insurance?

well I also took into account fafsa (i have 100%), I already have health insurance and living expenses are taken care of. Also I’m not planning on taking 15 credits per semester, when I used the calculator I aimed for 26 credits per year.

If youre a veteran go to any ivy+ other than Columbia and you’ll graduate debt free. This program has absurd costs and all their peers want veterans as well. Don’t sell yourself short bc some guy in your platoon got in here. Take a look at Brown-RUE, Yale-Eli Whitney, or regular transfer admission to pretty much any top 15/20 school and you’ll end up with a great degree and 10x better financially.