BAH Rate – The amount of MHA a student gets paid is based on the cost of living. To get $3000 per month MHA, the school is located in a area that has higher rent prices, higher food/utility prices, etc. Don’t pick your school based on a higher BAH rate unless you are ready to compute in from a lower cost area, usually an hour one way per what many people have posted here over the years. Plan out your expenses before you make the move – look at rent prices, the price of groceries, the price of transportation, the cost of utilities, etc. so you can live within those payments. Many students work part time or full time while attending school just to have enough money to pay their bills.
VA is not part of the military, so BAH rules do not apply to the Monthly Housing Allowance VA pays to students using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Book/Supply stipend – IF both the school and VA have completed the processing of your certification of enrollment, the Book/supply stipend is paid out up to 10 business days prior to 1st day of classes. Right now VA is at 24 day processing time. So if your school certified you on August 15th and your classes started August 24th, you are looking at getting your Book/supply stipend “around” September 10th.
Book/Supply stipend is capped at $1000 per academic year – the academic year runs from 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021. Book/Supply stipend is paid out by credit hour enrolled for Institutions of Higher Learning (offers an Associate or higher degree) at $41.67 per credit hour. Tech/trade schools are paid per clock hours enrolled and by month – normally up to $83.00 per month.
Monthly stipend/MHA – VA can’t pay anyone – only the Department of the Treasury can pay federal funds. So once VA completes processing your certification of enrollment, they send an authorization for payment to Depart. of Treasury. Treasury runs payment cycles of 8 days (I don’t know why 8 day cycles) – so your authorization is added to one of those cycles, which means it can sit in an authorization queue for a few days at Treasury but when you can VA, they will tell you they sent a payment out on xx day but that’s not the day VA sent the money to you but to Treasury. Treasury is authorized to pay VA Education programs using a 10 business day window. That means some students were paid this month as early as 25 August while other students will not be paid until 7 September. VA Disability, by law is paid on a specific day each month – so is Military pay – those dates have nothing to do with VA Education programs.
GI Bill – when answering questions posted about GI Bill, you need to know which GI Bill program the person is asking about. Currently there are 4 possible GI Bill programs someone might be using – VEAP (created in 1977) is the oldest GI Bill program still available for use (rare someone is still eligible for this program). MGIB which is the GI Bill for Active Duty only. MGIB-SR is the GI Bill for those in the National Guard or Reserves, Post 9/11 GI Bill. Each of these programs have different rules and payment amounts – so if someone is asking about MGIB-SR, an answer about how Post 9/11 GI Bill works doesn’t help them.
Arrears — VA Education programs all pay in arrears – so none of these programs pay you the monthly stipends before you start school. It’s just like a job, you work then get paid.
COVID 19 and schools – see this post: https://www.reddit.com/r/Veterans/comments/ii8w9j/gi_bill_fall_2020_affects_of_covid19_on_va/
Voc Rehab – Now under a new name Veterans Readiness and Employment Program but still referred to as VR&E. This program is great, used it myself. But I see many people telling other people to apply just to get additional free education. It’s not an Education program. VR&E is an employment program. Having a VA disability rate of 20% or higher (or 10% if VA determines the veteran has an SEH (serious employment handicap) means you are eligible to apply – doesn’t mean you are automatically qualified to use the program and doesn’t mean VR&E HAS to pay for more education. There are 5 Tracks within VR&E – only one, Long Term Solutions pays for training/education. So when you apply, VA has to evaluate you to determine if you have an Employment Handicap. This evaluation is based on prior education/training, prior work history, and the types and severity of your VA disabilities. Then if it has been determined you have an employment handicap, you will be offered one of the Tracks that VR&E has. I see many veterans posting that their buddy was approved but they were not – that means nothing as your buddy has different work/education history and different severity of their VA disabilities. So what Joe got has nothing to do with what you got.
VR&E limits – If you are determined to have an Employment Handicap and approved for education/training, VR&E can only pay for enough training to take you to the 48 month limit on using 2 or more VA programs. But if VA determines you have an SEH, VR&E can pay for as much training as you need – which is why some veterans are approved for law school and medical school and long graduate programs. This is built into the law: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/21.4020
When you go to your initial VR&E appointment, you need to treat this as a Job Interview – because that basically is what it is. You have to sell yourself and your career plan to that counselor.
Types of training VR&E will approves is based on Department of Labor standards for the physical demands of a job/career. VR&E will not approve you for any job/career you can not physically or mentally work in – doesn’t matter how much you want that job/career, VR&E is not going to train you for a job/career you can not be employed in or are not able to maintain employment in.
VR&E and Post 9/11 GI Bill – You do NOT have to be eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill to apply and use VR&E but I constantly see people posting this as if it were a fact. VR&E existed long before Post 9/11 GI Bill I used VR&E prior to the creation of Post 9/11 GI Bill. So if you are not eligible for or have used up your Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can still apply for VR&E. Having unused eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill does affect how much you are paid each month only as there are 2 different monthly stipend programs VR&E can use to pay a veteran approved for this program: https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/subsistence_allowance_rates.asp
Transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill – this can only be done while on Active Duty or while actively drilling with a Guard or Reserve unit. So please stop telling veterans they can transfer their GI Bill to anyone.
When Post 9/11 GI Bill was first created, VR&E improperly interpreted the laws and allowed veterans to receive up to 48 months of VR&E for those who had transferred some or all of their Post 9/11 GI Bill to their dependents. Now (for several years) VR&E is following the laws and months of your Post 9/11 GI Bill you transferred to dependents counts toward the 48 month limit (see link above). So while some older veterans were allowed to do so in the past, this is the rules they are following now.
VR&E doesn’t use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you are paid the P911SA (VR&E’s name for election to be paid the equivalent monthly stipend) rate, you are not using Post 9/11 GI Bill – just getting paid the equal rate of pay. What the law says is that each month you are using either program counts toward the 48 month limits on using 2 or more VA education program (see link above). So you can use 24 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill, switch to VR&E, use 24 months of VR&E and have 12 months of unused Post 9/11 GI Bill – but you won’t be allowed to use those 12 months because of the 48 month limits. There was a period of time were one of the Regional Processing Offices made a ruling on the interpretation of these laws (Sept 2015 to August 2016) – so those who completed VR&E and reapplied for Post 9/11 GI Bill were told that their VR&E didn’t count under the 48 month limitation law – those veterans only were allowed to use additional Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits above the 48 month law as VA is not going to deny those who were erroneously approved by that RPO.
Ebenefits – While you are using VR&E, ebenefits will continue to show how many months of unused Post 9/11 GI Bill you have – that number will not change – that’s because VR&E doesn’t update this part of ebenefits. VR&E is part of a different branch of VA than VA Education is. So if you used Post 9/11 GI Bill or another GI Bill, then used VR&E and want to return to school, don’t go by what ebenefits shows – re-apply for a new eligibility determination to verify if and how much Post 9/11 GI Bill you have remaining to use. I’ve had students who assumed the information on ebenefits had been updated by VR&E and found themselves in debt to my school because they assumed incorrectly.
Repeating courses – if you fail a class or withdraw from a class, VA will pay you to take the class again and not just one time. So please don’t tell people VA won’t pay someone to repeat a class they did not successfully complete. If you receive a D for a class but the school requires you to have a C or above for that class, VA will pay you to take that class again.
Monthly payments are based on 2 things – whether the school is in session for the entire month or not and your Rate of Pursuit/Training. If your school terms start after the first day of the month, you do not get a full months pay – you get a prorated payment based on your Rate of Pursuit/Training and the number of days school was in session. VA computes your monthly payments using a 30 day month. To compute a partial month, take the monthly stipend amount, divide by 30 then multiple by the number of days.
Semesters or Terms. VA pays by Terms not semesters – at my university we offer 16 week, 12 week, 8 week, 4 week, 3 week, 1 week and 2 day classes – each of these are known as terms and must be reported separately to VA. School do not report the total credit hours you are enrolled in by semester but by each individual term within that semester. How you schedule your classes can greatly affect your monthly stipend. You can be full time for your school’s academic standards but not for VA payments.
Online classes and Post 9/11 GI Bill and VR&E. If you enroll in only online classes, you get paid the Online Only MHA rate. This is NOT 1/2 of Your BAH. The amount everyone gets paid is based on 1/2 of the National Average paid to an E5 with dependents – for Post 9/11 GI Bill on/after 1 August 2020, this is $916.50 per month. The law only requires you to take one in-classroom class to receive the in-classroom MHA. I’ve had many students who were working full time take 3 online classes and 1 night in-classroom class – they were paid the in-classroom MHA rate. I occasionally see people commenting that if you take any online class, you are not paid the in-classroom MHA – that is not correct. But that classroom class needs to be in-session for the full length of the semester. You can not take an 8 week class that meets in a classroom from August to October and expect to be paid the in-classroom rate for the rest of the semester October to December if all of your other classes are online.
12 credit hours – this is used as the standard for undergraduate 16 week classes to be considered Full Time. This 12 credit hour standard does not apply if you are taking 7 or 8 week classes or if you are taking Graduate level classes. The laws provide a standard for undergraduate classes, not the school. For graduate level classes, the school sets the number of credit hours required to be full time – so check your school’s graduate catalog as they must list that information in their catalog. At my university, 9 credit hours 16 weeks is Full time for Graduate students and 4 credit hours of 8 week classes – but at other schools, 6 credit hours of 16 week classes or 3 credit hours of 8 week classes is full time. So what others were paid at the full time rate can be very different at your school if you are in graduate level classes.
If you are using MGIB, MGIB-SR, VEAP, or DEA, you get paid the same monthly stipend whether the classes are online or not.
Hybrid classes if they meet certain classes are paid at the in-classroom rate. https://gibill.custhelp.va.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/988/kw/Hybrid
Part time – IF you attend school part time, only part of a months worth of entitlement is used up but I frequently see people commenting that if you take only one class, you still use up one month of entitlement for each month class is in session – that is not correct. https://www.reddit.com/r/Veterans/wiki/education/part
Much of the above is covered in our Wiki – https://www.reddit.com/r/Veterans/wiki/education If you see something that is not covered or not clear, please let us know.
VA disability rates have nothing to do with your eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill is based on active duty service and type of discharge. So if you served less than 3 years, got out and claimed VA disability, you don’t qualify for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill under this rule: https://gibill.custhelp.va.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/952/kw/30%20days
Edit to add: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/10/15/va-has-lost-gibillcom-rights-some-worry-it-could-prompt-scammers-target-student-vets.html?fbclid=IwAR0ziYWrMpkM7KMiymiblngy_8PdlaCGNZFxhL95vkBy9sSgX9-HI3Bj3Mc
Edit to add: The law was amended to extended the special COVID 19 rules through 21 December 2021 – IF a school has scheduled classes for classroom instruction but converted those classes to online, the student will still be paid the in-classroom MHA. But if the student signs up for only online classes that were never converted from classroom instruction, the student will be paid the online only MHA – $916.50 per month. You only need one of your classes to have been converted to online to be paid the in-classroom MHA. For example, John is taking 4 undergraduate classes for Spring 2021. Only 1 of those 4 classes must have been originally scheduled to be in a classroom to qualify for the in-classroom MHA – this class needs to meet for the full length of the semester – so if John signs up for 3 16 week online classes and 1 8 week Converted class, John would only be paid the in-classroom MHA rate for that 8 week period and the online only rate for the other 8 weeks of this semester (at the 3/4th rate).
Edit to add: Video series by VA on Post 9/11 GI Bill – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg9AkMFk74s&list=PLrrh23QvVVYgS5mOz-14fZ6CSJyQEiycB&index=5
Edit 28 Oct 20:
Dear GI Bill® Student,
On June 11, 2020, Federal Circuit Court overturned VA rules regarding end-of-term benefit extensions in Carr vs Wilkie.
In accordance with the Carr decision, VA will begin paying more benefits because we will now extend end-of-term benefits beyond 48 months. This ruling only applies to cases which have not been finally decided by VA; therefore, it will only apply to cases currently on appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals or still appealable to VA (those decided within one year of date of decision: June 11, 2020).
To prepare for this outcome, VA has begun the process of preparing procedures to implement. We will be working with schools to make sure they understand this issue and can assist you through this process in a timely fashion. Tips for Success:
Plan ahead of time, ask questions Understand the impact this court decision has on you Be sure you understand your school’s procedures regarding this issue Get to know and stay in contact with your School Certifying Officials
Prior to Carr vs. Wilkie
Prior to Carr, VA viewed the 48-month rule as a hard stop and would never extend end-of-term benefits beyond 48 months. The court ruled that VA’s interpretation is incorrect and instead, VA should apply the 48-month rule to limit the initial award which will determine when benefits are exhausted and the point at which we should then apply the end-of-term extension (i.e., an end-of-term extension should not be stopped at the 48th month).
Example: Student has used 26 months under chapter 1606. He or she now applies for chapter 33 benefits. Entitlement to chapter 33 benefits is generally limited to 36 months of entitlement. However, application of the 48-month rule limits the award to 22 months of chapter 33 benefits. Therefore:
26 months of ch 1606 benefits used 36 months of ch 33 benefits entitled 48-26 = 22 months of chapter 33 will be awarded
If the student then uses 21 months of chapter 33 benefits (leaving only one month of entitlement remaining), and then starts a 4 month standard semester program, VA will pay benefits for the entire 4 months extending benefits by 3 months beyond the student’s actual award. This student will ultimately receive a combined total of 51 months of VA educational assistance.
For quarter or semester based program, VA will extend benefits to the end of the term. This means if a student has at least one day of benefits to start the academic term but does not have enough days of benefits to pay for the entire term, VA will nonetheless pay benefits for the entire term. Benefits can also be extended under the same statute for non-quarter or semester based programs but the rules for calculating the length of the extension are slightly different. For these non-standard term program, benefits can only be extended to the end of the term if the student has enough benefits to make it to at least the halfway point in the period. However, end-of-term benefits can only be extended for a maximum of 12 weeks. If the student does not have enough benefits to make it to the halfway point, then benefits cannot be extended. Benefits will stop on the day the student exhaust his or her remaining entitlement.
Readjudication and Retroactive Payments
The process of readjudicating retroactive cases means that VA will determine previous times where we may have underpaid tuition and fees to a school and housing benefits to a student. VA will issue any retroactive payments due for housing or tuition and fees, and provide letters telling informing students of these new payments.
If you have any questions or are experiencing a financial hardship due to this issue, please contact the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551, Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Central Time so we may take immediate action. We will be actively monitoring our Education Call Centers and social media outlets for any questions or concerns.
VA is committed to helping Veterans and their families receive all the education benefits they are entitled to under the law. For more information, go to: https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/
Edit November 10th: From an email sent out to School Certifying Officials
As you may be aware, special COVID-19 rules impacting your Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits have been extended to December 21, 2021. Among other things, these rules mean that if you pursue resident (physically in person) courses converted to online solely due to COVID-19 at a rate of pursuit that is more than 50%, you will continue to receive the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) rate for resident training. To help you better understand these rules and find answers to many of your questions, please see the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) recently updated Student COVID-19 FAQs. If you have specific questions around enrollment or classes, please reach out to me or call VA’s GI Bill hotline at 888-442-4551.