By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Saturday May 2, 2009 8:52:32 EDT
The Department of Veterans Affairs began taking applications for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits Friday.
But VA officials are warning people who might be eligible for more than one veterans education benefits plan to think carefully before signing up for the program because they might be costing themselves money.
Many current service members and veterans are eligible for both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and its forerunner, the Montgomery GI Bill. Applying for the Post-9/11 GI Bill is an irrevocable decision to use the new benefits plan instead of the old plan.
For most people, the Post-9/11 GI Bill that takes effect Aug. 1 will be far more generous. It covers full tuition up to the cost of undergraduate in-state costs at the most expensive four-year public college or university in the state where the student is attending school, plus a living stipend, book allowance and other assistance not available under previous benefits plans.
The combination results in benefits payments spread over 36 months that will total $75,000 to $90,000 for most users, a senior defense official estimated earlier this week.
But there are reasons why some people who signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill program — the benefit been available since 1986 to enlisted members and officers if the officer’s college education was not fully funded by the military — might want to stick with the old plan.