Need Help Understanding GI Bill

Discussion in 'Military-related education topics' started by billbart63, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. billbart63

    billbart63 New Member

    I recently retired from the Air Force and prior to that, completed 2 semesters with Grantham University using Tuition Assistance. Now I need to convert over to the G.I. Bill but am having trouble making sense of the information (or lack thereof) for using VA Benefits to pay for distance learning.

    I would greatly appreciate hearing about the experiences of others in this area as well as any suggestions on how to utilize my benefits in the best way.

    I have a specific question as well...Should I expect to have to pay out of pocket expenses or is there a way to get the VA benefits to cover all cost?

    Thanks for any and all advice.

    Bill Barton
  2. Mustang

    Mustang New Member


    First, congratulations on your retirement from the Air Force.

    I recently finished a Masters Degree from the UOP Online and used the GI BILL, Vietnam ERA for 100% of the cost of tuition and books.

    If you have never used the GI BILL before, it takes several weeks to get the money to start rolling. After starting, you fill out an application for benefits via online at the VA website. I also recommend using direct deposit so you don't have to wait on the mail for your check and also for security purposes.

    After about six weeks, you will receive your entitlements each month based upon if you are attending full, half or part time. The monthly payment rates are also on the VA website.

    To answer your question, the money you receive from the GI Bill should cover the costs unless you are pursuing a very expensive degree such as a Duke MBA Online which costst about $100,000.

    If you need more specific information, please let me know.

  3. w_parker

    w_parker New Member

    Another benefit is you only have to be enrolled for 6 semester hours to receive full time benefits, which I believe is currently $1004 per month, otheriwse 12 semester hours is required for full time student status. If you have other questions you can post them here or email me. I use my GI Bill to augment my tuition assistance (I am active duty) but my wife uses her GI Bill (she is a civilian now) to pay her tuition, so I have a good understanding of both sides of the house.

    William Parker
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I hope things have changed since I used the GI Bill. I was cheated out of about two year's of monies.

    My father was a 100% disabled American veteran so his children were able to get a free college education.

    After my own military service, I entered graduate school and later divinity school. I was told what I used from my father's disability counted against my own service benefits. Strange, but true!
  5. Arby

    Arby New Member

    I am currently using the GI Bill to help finance my education. It is going to cover approx. half of my total tuition so I took out a student loan and I just send the monthly GI Bill payment in when I get it. There is a good deal of info available on the VA website here.
  6. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    I had a similar thing happen to me. When I was working on my BS, I used 36 months of the Reserve GI Bill. When I graduated from college, I entered active duty, and signed up for the active duty GI Bill. I used tuition assistance to help me pay for my MS, thinking I would have 36 months of active duty GI Bill left for a PhD. I enrolled in a PhD program and got a letter from the VA stating that I am only entitled to 12 months of my GI Bill benefits. Talk about a rude awakening!

    It turns out that you are not authorized any more than 48 months of VA benefits combined...all types of VA benefits.

    I switched from an expensive 100% online PhD program to a much cheaper PhD program. My courses are now taught either via satellite at an education center or video streaming.

    Be careful using your GI Bill. Find out how your university reports your number of credit hours to the VA. Some universities regard three graduate credits as 1/2 time while other universities regard three graduate credit hours as more than 1/4 time but less than 1/2 time.

    My present university regards 3 credit hours as more than 1/4 time but less than 1/2 time. This means if I use the GI Bill while taking three graduate credit hours, I will only get reimbursed for the cost of tuition while the VA will charge my GI Bill at the 1/2 time rate. For example, Old Dominion charges $852 for three graduate hours. The VA will give me $213 per month for four months (covers the cost of tuition for the semester). Doesn't sound too bad, except that I only have 12 months of full-time VA benefits (24 months of benefits at the 1/2 time rate), the VA will charge me for two months worth of benefits.

    I had to restructure my GI Bill usage so as to take full advantage of my entitlements. When I take three credits, I will not use the GI Bill. I only plan to use my GI Bill when I either take six credits hours per semester (two courses in a semester) or nine credit hours per semester (dissertation phase). In this way I will use ALL of my GI Bill and only have to pay a little under $2000 out of pocket costs for the entire program.
  7. billbart63

    billbart63 New Member

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the information!!

    It sounds like the G.I. Bill will cover me. I have used to the G.I. Bill before (while still on active duty about 3 years ago) and am still in there system. I called the 888 number and was told I still have 34 months of entitlement left.

    Since there is a lag time between enrolling and when I can expect benefits to arrive, I expect I will have to pay at least part of my tuition out of pocket. I was hoping to avoid that.

    <<you only have to be enrolled for 6 semester hours to receive full time benefits>>

    Is that per semester? How many weeks? I believe Grantham uses 8 weeks per class, so if I enroll for a semester, it is essentially 6 hours per 16 weeks.

    Again, thanks for all your advice.

  8. ternahan

    ternahan New Member

    Speaking very generally, you need to consider two things:

    First, is the school on the semester system?

    If so, the normal undergraduate load to be a "full time" student is 12 semester hours.

    If graduate school, which I understand is not the case here, it is usually 8 semester hours.

    Remember that a school on the quarter system's credits are only 3/4 of a semester credit, so therefore the amount of credits to be considered full time may be different.

    The best advice is to talk specifically to the Disabled and Veteran's affairs counselor who will certify your enrollment status to the VA each term. The VA does not "second guess" what level the school reports, be it less than half time, half time, three quarter time, or full time.

  9. w_parker

    w_parker New Member

    Bill, yes, I use it for tuition towards the end of the fiscal year and I am counted as a full time student with 6 SH, eight week courses online (Upper Iowa University). As many likely know, while I am counted as full time my benefit, lol, payment, cannot exceed my tuition since I am active duty, but in your case you will get full time tuition (done monthly as opposed to semester) for your enrollment as long as you carry six hours (online).

    W Parker
  10. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused


    Check with you school's VA office to see how they report your credit hours to the VA.

    Different schools do things differently. One school may regard 6 graduate credits per semester as full-time (NCU) while others regard 9 graduate credits per semester as full-time (ODU).

  11. billbart63

    billbart63 New Member

    Thanks Again Everyone for all the great advice.

    I have talked to Granthams VA Benefits office in the past and to be honest, sometimes it was like pulling teeth to get any helpful information. It really depends on who you talk to there whether you get any real help or not. That is why I turned to this forum for advice.

    Anybody else ever deal with Granthams VA Office? I am wondering what kind of help they received with their questions.

    Thanks, Bill

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