The Montgomery GI Bill

(U.S. Code, Title 38, Chapter 30)

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In 1984, Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery (D-Miss.), led a major effort to overhaul the GI Bill. The legislation, known as the Montgomery GI Bill, may be used while on active duty after serving 24 months or more, or after separation. It requires a $1,200 buy-in, deducted from military pay, and includes a $600 buy-up option to enhance the benefit.

Is the $1,200 GI Bill buy-in refunded to those who qualify and switch to the Post-9/11 benefit?

A proportional amount of the $1,200 contribution will be included with the last monthly housing allowance payment when the Post-9/11 benefit exhausts. Those who do not exhaust the Post-9/11 benefit will not receive a Montgomery GI Bill refund.

What about switching to the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

An individual can elect to irrevocably switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill as long as he or she is eligible for it as of Aug. 1, 2009, and is:

  • Eligible for either the Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30), the Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606) or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 1607)
  • A member of the armed forces and making the basic $1,200 contribution toward the Montgomery GI Bill benefit
  • A member of the armed forces who previously declined to use Montgomery GI Bill benefits (Chapter 30)

Can the benefit be transferred to others?

DoD may allow an individual to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to one or more dependents if he or she has served at least six years and commits to serve an additional four years in the U.S. armed forces. DoD determines eligibility for those wishing to transfer GI Bill benefits and may impose additional requirements and limit the number of months that can be transferred.

What are the eligibility requirements of the Montgomery GI Bill?

Individuals must have first enlisted on or after July 1, 1985, to use the Montgomery GI Bill, paid the $1,200 contribution and served on active duty for a period equal to, or greater than, the initial enlistment period.

What kind of education programs does the Montgomery GI Bill cover?

  • Classes that lead to college degrees
  • Vocational programs that lead to degrees or certification
  • Independent study programs, including online and Internet training
  • Fifty-five percent of the cost of approved correspondence training
  • On-the-job or apprentice training (85 percent for the first six months, 65 percent for the second six months and 45 percent for the remainder)
  • Up to 60 percent of approved charges for flight training
  • Up to $2,000 per licensing or certification exam
  • Entrepreneurship classes offered through the Small Business Development Center or the National Veterans Business Development Center
  • Up to 60 percent of charges for courses defined as “high cost” or “high tech”

How much is the monthly benefit?

The monthly benefit for the Montgomery GI Bill is based on the type of training and length of service. A member of the armed forces can contribute “kickers” to add to the benefit over time.

How long does a veteran have to use it?

Typically, the time limit to use the Montgomery GI Bill is 10 years after discharge.

GI Bill fact:

Celebrities who went to school on the GI Bill include Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby, Gene Hackman, Rod Steiger, Johnny Cash, Steve McQueen, Norman Mailer, Rod Serling, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dole, Norman Mailer, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger