Montgomery GI Bill User Guide

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Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits are available for servicemembers to help with education and training costs, you can become eligible if you are an active duty member who enrolls and pay $100 per month for 12 months. You are then entitled to receive a monthly education benefit once you have completed a minimum service obligation.

Note: MGIB benefits differ greatly from the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Click here to learn more about Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33).

Your GI Bill can be used to pay for many different programs including the following:

The Montgomery GI Bill is an education benefit which can be worth over $77K. This amount is based on the monthly full-time student payment rate of $2,150 multiplied by the 36-month limit. This "payment rate" automatically increases on the first of October each year. You get the annual increase no matter when you became eligible or begin using it.

The term "36 months of benefits" refers to academic months - time actually enrolled at the full-time rate of pursuit.  This means you will have up to 8 semesters (four years) of traditional academic education.

Note: Your actual benefits may be higher if you signed up for the Army, Navy or Marine Corps College Funds.

MGIB Eligibility

You qualify for the GI Bill if:

  • You contribute $100 a month for the first 12 months you are on active duty.
  • You have completed high school or have an equivalency certificate before you apply for benefits.
  • You have served at least 2 years on active duty.

Check out the GI Bill Eligibility Fact Sheet for more details.

Your MGIB Payment Rate - How Much You Get

Your GI Bill monthly payment rate is determined by two factors: your student status (full time, half time, or part time) and your duty status. In most cases you would be considered a full time student if you are taking 12 or more credits per semester.

If you are on active duty the GI Bill will only reimburse you for the actual tuition and expenses. But once you leave active duty service the GI Bill will pay the full payment rate no matter how much the tuition costs. Click here to see the current GI Bill payment rates.

When To Use The GI Bill

You can begin using your benefit after 2 years of service, however before you choose to use the GI Bill you should know that it is usually not a good idea to use it while on active duty, because VA administers the Montgomery GI Bill differently for active duty and veterans. For instance a veteran is charged one month of benefits for each $2,150 - the current GI Bill "payment rate" - in education benefits used .

Example - If a veteran receives $8,600 and the current full-time payment rate is $2,150, divide $8,600 by $2,150. The veteran will be charged 4 months of the 36 months of benefits.

However if you are on active duty and go to school full-time for 4 months, you will still be charged 4 months of benefits even if your tuition is only $1,000.  

Considering this, it only makes sense to use your GI Bill on active duty if your tuition costs are high or you use your "GI Bill Top-up" benefit. The GI Bill has a time limit - expiration date. Once you have left the service you have ten years to use it. Any benefit remaining after the tenth anniversary is lost, and you will lose your $1,200 initial contribution.

Note: You should ALWAYS consult your Education Service Officer before using your GI Bill or taking any college classes. They are trained to give you the counseling that will help you avoid wasting your time and benefits.

When you find a school to attend, be sure to ask the admissions counselor if the school meets the requirements to use the GI Bill. Most regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities have VA approved programs.

After you apply for benefits, it normally take4-8 weeks to hear back from the VA regarding their eligibility decision. You will eventually receive a declaration of eligibility and a letter explaining your GI Bill benefits. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon to get a letter from the VA requesting more information. You will have to answer the VA requests in order to get your benefits.

Once you begin attending classes you need to certify your attendance with the VA before you can receive your monthly benefits payments.

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits 

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Subscribe to Military.com to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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