Is the Montgomery GI Bill Still a Good Choice?

The Army is still offering the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) as an enlistment incentive option. If it is still an option when you join, I recommend you decline it. Here's why.
 
Since the implementation of the GI Bill 2.0 and 2.1, the Post 9/11 GI Bill covers the same training as the Montgomery GI Bill, pays higher monthly benefits -- and it's free. Once you sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill, you incur a $100 per month payroll deduction for the first 12 months of your enlistment.
 
Both GI Bills offer 36 months of benefits in exchange for three years of service. Both pay for degree, non-degree, on-the-job (OJT) apprenticeships, certification and licensing educational programs.
 
Before the changes, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would only pay for one certification and usually did not pay for training leading up to the certification test. Since the change, it pays for multiple certifications and the training.
 
The biggest difference now is the pay structure between the two GI Bills. With the MGIB, you have to pay for tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. You get that money back later in the form of monthly payments. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and eligible fees directly to your school, plus you get a book stipend once per semester (up to the $1,000 per academic year) and a monthly housing allowance, based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking.
 
For example, let's say your tuition and fees are $4,000 per 16-week semester with another $300 in book costs. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, you would get $5,892 per semester ($1,473 per month for 4 months). Out of this amount, you would have to pay your own tuition, fees and books, leaving you left with $1,592 in your pocket at the end of the term.
 
Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your $4,000 tuition and fees are paid by the VA directly to your school. Near the beginning of each semester, you would get paid $41.67 per credit in money you can use to buy books. For a full-time student taking 12 credits, that is $500 per semester. If you only take two semesters per academic year, you would reach your $1,000 cap at the end of the second term. If you also take the summer session, then you would not get the book stipend.
 
Plus, because you are a full-time student, you would get the full housing allowance. The average is $1,300 per month - double that amount if your school is on either the East or West Coast. So with your tuition and fees paid and $500 you can use for books, you end up with $5,200 in your pocket for the semester. $1,592 verses $5,200? I think you get the picture: The Post 9/11 GI Bill is simply a better deal.

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