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The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-AD)

Montgomery GI BIll

The Montgomery GI Bill is an education benefit offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those who serve a minimum amount of time on Active Duty qualified for this benefit provided they opted in during basic training or in their initial enlistment.

The Montgomery GI Bill program is closed to new recruits (see below); you cannot opt in to this version of the GI Bill any longer. That said, some may still qualify to use the benefits they signed up for when the program was active.

You are required to make a choice between GI Bills if you are eligible for the Montgomery version. You are required to select the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery version. Once you choose, the selection is irreversible.

Things to Know About Choosing a GI Bill Option

VA regulations say you are permitted to use one VA education benefit for a qualifying period of military service. The VA official site reminds those who choose the Post-9/11 GI Bill that they may be entitled to a refund of any money they paid into the Montgomery GI Bill program (MGIB). This is true if:

  • You entered active duty after June 30, 1985, or;
  • You served a combination of two years of active-duty service and four years of Selected Reserve service after June 30, 1985
  • You chose to pay $1,200 for the Montgomery GI Bill program
  • You chose to use your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits instead of your MGIB benefits and had unused MGIB benefits when you started using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits instead

Other criteria may also apply. You may be eligible for up to 48 months of GI Bill benefit under this program if you meet the criteria. There is no housing stipend for the Montgomery GI Bill, which is an important consideration to make if you need help with your living expenses while attending school.

New Troops Don’t Qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill

New recruits today, as mentioned above, do not have the option of selecting the Montgomery GI Bill. Instead, these recruits enroll in the Post 9/11 GI Bill which features enhancements due to the passage of a law commonly referred to as the Forever GI Bill.

Who Qualified for the Montgomery GI Bill?

There are multiple categories that qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill.

Category I

  • The applicant has a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • Entered active duty after June 30, 1985, and
  • The applicant chose to contribute $100 a month for the first 12 months of service toward the Montgomery GI Bill program.
  • Applicant must have served continuously for 24-36 months depending on the agreement or;
  • Served four years if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty

Category II

  • The applicant has a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • Started active duty before January 1, 1977 (or before January 2, 1978, under a delayed enlistment program contracted before January 1, 1977), and
  • The applicant served between October 19, 1984, and June 30, 1985, and stayed on active duty through June 30, 1988 (or through June 30, 1987, if you entered the Selected Reserve within 1 year of leaving active duty and served 4 years), and
  • The applicant had one day or more of GI Bill entitlement left under the Vietnam Era GI Bill (Chapter 34) as of December 31, 1989

Category III

  • High school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • The applicant does not qualify for MGIB under categories I or II, and
  • Contributed to the Montgomery GI Bill ($1,200) before retirement or separation
  • The applicant must have served on active duty on September 30, 1990, and involuntarily separated after February 2, 1991, or
  • Involuntarily separated on or after November 30, 1993, or
  • Voluntarily separated under the Voluntary Separation Incentive program or;
  • Voluntarily separated under the Special Separation Benefit program

Category IV

  • High school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • The applicant made a $1,200 contribution toward the GI Bill
  • Applicant served on active duty on October 9, 1996, had money left in a VEAP account on that date and chose MGIB before October 9, 1997, or
  • Started full-time National Guard duty under title 32, USC, between July 1, 1985, and November 28, 1989, and chose MGIB between October 9, 1996, and July 9, 1997

How Much Money Is Available Under the Montgomery GI Bill?

The amount of GI Bill benefits you get under this program depends on the duration of your military service, the type of higher learning you want to get, and whether you qualify for other VA benefits such as a college fund kicker. In order to see if you can use the Montgomery GI Bill at a particular school you will need to see if the VA has approved your program.

The Department of Veterans Affairs advises all applicants to use the GI Bill Comparison Tool at the VA official site to see whether your school’s program is approved. Those who want to apply at a school that has not yet been approved are urged to contact the school to ask if they will request VA approval, but the VA cannot act until the school has made the request.

Applying for the GI Bill

You can apply for Montgomery GI Bill benefits by applying online with the Department of Veterans Affairs using VA Form 22-1990. You can also send that completed form to the VA by mail–fill out the form and send it to the nearest VA Regional Office to your school. You can find a list of regional claims processing offices at the VA official site. You can skip mailing the form if you want to deliver it in-person to a VA Regional Office.

You can also ask for help from your school’s VA certifying official who may work in the financial aid or admissions office. You can also get assistance claiming VA education benefits by getting the help of a trained Veteran Service Officer.

What to Know About the Montgomery GI Bill

Some who selected the Montgomery GI Bill also chose to participate in a buy-up program where the service member contributed an additional $600 toward the program to qualify for more GI Bill money when the time comes. That $600 earned those who opted in an additional $5600 in additional GI Bill benefits. The $600 buy-up option is not offered with the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The Montgomery GI Bill does not feature an option to transfer the benefit to a dependent spouse or school-age child. The Post 9/11 GI Bill features many more options than the Montgomery version including a monthly housing stipend and the ability to transfer the benefit in exchange for a longer military service commitment.

There is also a Montgomery GI Bill for members of the Guard and Reserve, the rules and requirements for this program are different in crucial ways; if you had served on active duty but switched to the Guard or Reserve, it’s not safe to assume your benefits are the same under the Montgomery Bill-Selected Reserve version.

And finally, the Montgomery GI Bill offers financial assistance for a variety of different class types, and some overlook those listed below assuming they would not qualify. But you are permitted to use your GI Bill options to consider:

  • Remedial courses
  • Deficiency courses
  • Refresher courses

As long as you are degree-seeking, such courses could be approved for GI Bill payments.

If Your School Closes

Did you know that if you use VA education benefits including the Montgomery GI Bill at a college that closes or is removed from the VA-approved list you may apply for a restoration of your VA education benefit? Restrictions apply and those who want to transfer more than 12 college credits from the closing school may not be eligible for restored benefits. Typically, those who want to transfer less than 12 credit hours from the closing school must certify in writing they are transferring fewer than 12 credits in order to have their benefits restored.

Read more: When Your School Closes: The Veterans Eligible to Transfer School (VETS) Credit Act


About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.