With two GI Bills named the same, it is hard to discern which one somebody is talking about without getting more information. The two GI Bills, both commonly referred to as THE Montgomery GI Bill, are actually two separate GI Bills: the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR). While each has the same basic name, they share very few other similarities with each other.
Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
This is the one most people are referring to when they talk about the Montgomery GI Bill. When a servicemember first enlists on active duty, s/he has the opportunity to either sign up for this GI Bill or decline it. If s/he opts for it, then a $1,200 “contribution fee” is collected via payroll deduction at the rate of $100.00 per month for the first 12 months.
In return, the servicemember gets 36 months of education benefits that can be used while still serving (either alone or in conjunction with Tuition Assistance/Tuition Top-Up) or after getting out. The only stipulation is the 36 months of benefits must be used within 10 years from the date of the servicemember’s discharge.
Right now, a servicemember with at least three years of service would get $1,564 per month to go to school; with less than three years of service, the amount drops to $1,260 per month.
Montgomery GI Bill – Selective Reserve
When enlisting in one of the reserves of the Armed Forces or the National Guard, enlistees can choose this Montgomery GI Bill in return for a six year enlistment, however, it does not require the $1,200 contribution fee.
While the Reserve Component member still gets 36 months of education benefit, s/he has to use it within ten years of receiving his/her Notification of Benefits Eligibility (NOBE) letter or it expires. If the servicemember chooses to stay in less than 10 years, the education benefit expires upon discharge. With this GI Bill, there is no benefit left after discharge.
Currently the MGIB-SR pays a paltry $356 per month to go to school. With either Montgomery GI Bill, the student must pay tuition, fees, book and other education-related expenses, however, with the “Reserve GI Bill”, other financial aid funding may also be available from the Federal or State to help offset education costs.
So while the name is the same, the benefit differs greatly from each other. When discussing the Montgomery GI Bill, be sure to clarify which one you are talking about.
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