I’m close to finishing up my degree. Do I have the option to use my GI Bill instead of TA to pay for classes?
Yes, but you should be aware of the pros and cons of using your GI Bill now vice later. Both the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill are worth more once you separate from active duty than while you’re on active duty. If you use the MGIB on active duty, you are only going to get reimbursed your tuition/course fees; you will not receive the full MGIB allotment unless your tuition/fees equal or exceed the maximum monthly allotment for your eligibility level. If you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill while on active duty, you will only receive tuition/fees up to the in-state rate or up to the private school cap, in addition to the book stipend. You are not entitled to the housing allowance or the Yellow Ribbon Program until you separate from active duty. One year of the Post 9/11 GI Bill after you get out of the Navy can equate to over $50,000 in benefits, as opposed to what it’s worth if you use it for classes while you’re on active duty.
You also need to consider whether you have reached full eligibility for your GI Bill (36 months of eligible active duty service) and whether you want to transfer your benefits to a family member later on. Some choose to start using the MGIB while on active duty and then convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill later. This requires two periods of qualifying service for anyone who entered active duty on or after 1 Aug 2011.
The decision of when to start using your GI Bill and which GI Bill to use is ultimately up to the individual Sailor. We recommend going to the VA Education and Training website at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/ to research MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and eligibility requirements, so you can choose the best course of action for your individual situation and goals.
NOTE: This article is in reference to FY19 TA funding shortage (NAVADMIN 114/19).