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Having a tough time understanding the limitations of the GI Bill

Mast3rshakeMast3rshake Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
edited January 2014 in Veterans
I've been reading through the threads here, and people are saying "36 months of benefits", and having already "used up their GI Bill". Right now I'm at a community college, planning to transfer soon, but don't have the disposable income to pay for the tuition out of pocket. Is the "36 months" that the Post 9/11 refers to consecutive/fiscal year, or actual months in classes? Say, if I take full time summer credits on top of the other 2 semesters, by the fall, will that still leave me 2 years of benefits?

I'll be applying to schools this year with the 2 semesters finished, while taking summer classes; if for some reason I don't get into any of the schools I want (completely hypothetically) and I resort to getting my associates first, then transferring, the GI.B. completely eliminates any merit scholarship I might get by compensating it into their costs, still leaving me screwed for the last year of school, yes?

Is there any best method to pay for the last year of school then?
Post edited by Mast3rshake on

Replies to: Having a tough time understanding the limitations of the GI Bill

  • harrysmith138harrysmith138 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    The 36 months only count towards the actual time you are in class. Example, if you use the gi bill for a 14 week quarter then your remaining benefits will be 36 months minus 14 weeks. The gi bill will not pay the housing stipend when there are no classes (no break pay).

    You can get merit scholarships along with the gi bill, I don't know where you got the information that the gi bill eliminates any merit scholarships but it's wrong. Fill out the fafsa and depending on your individual efc, you will qualify for extra fin aid. You can get pell grants along with individual university scholarships if you qualify. If your school's tuition is fully covered by the gi bill and you get other fin aid, you will get the extra money.

    36 months should get you plenty of benefits to finish your undergrad, I dont understand ppl who can't seem to use this benefit properly. If you time it properly you should be able to also get a masters too. Good luck.
  • Mast3rshakeMast3rshake Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks for clearing that up. There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around. As far as I understood it, if you earn a merit scholarship, you're told to notify the VA about it, who then calculates that into tuition they no longer have to cover for the year, which effectively eliminates the scholarship (you would get that money through the VA even if you hadn't through the scholarship).
  • harrysmith138harrysmith138 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    It is possible that individual merit/academic scholarships are subject to some kind of VA regulation, but I'm not sure. What I do know is that Pell Grants and whatever scholarships your college decides to award you will not affect the gi bill. If you get a scholarship/grants that fully cover tuition and the gi bill, you will get a refund of the entire scholarship to your pocket. It sounds too good to be true, but thats actually how it works.

    However, this really depends on your efc according to fafsa. Are you going to a state school? If you are, then the gi bill should cover it anyway regardless of scholarships.
  • Mast3rshakeMast3rshake Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Another question that I popped up:

    Some universities offer room and board; is that a separate factor to the tuition that the GIB will cover for the year? Just as an example, Virginia Tech's in state calculator gives:

    Tuition & Fees
    $11,455
    Room & Board
    $7,650
    Per Year Total
    $19,105

    Pretending that the per year total equals exactly what the GIB will cover, does the room and board get covered with tuition, with the BAH still being payed out separately?
  • harrysmith138harrysmith138 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Every brick and mortar school will have room & board costs (this is calculated whether you live on campus or off). The info you provided on Virginia Tech looks like its on campus costs. The gi bill will cover up to $19,198 a year for tuition (not including Yellow Ribbon program for private schools). This means that any tuition up to that amount will be covered and what isn't will have to be covered by the Yellow Ribbon Program or other fin aid.

    In regards to room and board/housing costs, this is covered by the housing stipend provided by the gi bill. the stipend is adjusted according to the zip code of the school regardless where you the student actually lives. Example, using this website BAH Calculator, it appears that Vir Tech per month stipend (E-5 with dependents) is $1,113.
  • Mast3rshakeMast3rshake Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    So the room and board is paid to the school by the VA, which covers housing on/off base while attending school there for the year/semester/whatever factor they use? or is it that the tuition is (obviously) covered, but the room and board is just paid out in BAH to the the student, who then has to pay someone with that money like everyone else in this world?

    You actually answered a question that I didn't know I had though, too. I was thinking that the GIB covered $17.5k per year and that to attend Tech I'd have to cover some out of pocket or get a grant/loan.
  • harrysmith138harrysmith138 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    I don't have any experience living on campus (I've always gotten an apartment) so I don't really know how the VA pays room and board costs in relation to living on campus, but I assume they pay you the stipend directly and then you pay the school. If you choose to live off campus, whether with family or roommates then you will get the stipend every month and pay rent like a normal person.

    Basically if you have any benefits left and your going to a public school, you shouldn't have to worry about any out of pocket costs. Private schools are another factor, but Vir tech is public so you should be covered in relation to tuition. Whether or not the stipend is enough to live is up to you as an individual. You might have to get a job like any other college student.
This discussion has been closed.