You’ve given your time and effort to your country. Now you’re ready to put that same level of focus and dedication toward your education. The question is, which education benefit should you use to help offset the costs: the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

You can only use one of these education benefits and, once you select the one you want, you can’t go back later and switch to the other one. Here’s what you need to know to make the best choice for you when deciding between the Montgomery GI Bill vs. Post-9/11 GI Bill when it comes to eligibility and benefits.

Eligibility Differences

Each of these education benefits has different eligibility requirements. To qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must meet one of the following requirements, all of which involve the time frame of September 11, 2001 until now:

  • A minimum of 90 days on active duty (either continuous or non-continuous)
  • A minimum of 30 continuous days of service and you were honorably discharged with a service-related disability
  • Received a Purple Heart and were honorably discharged (no service length requirement)
  • A veteran or service member qualifies for these benefits and has transferred them to you as a dependent child

Under the Montgomery GI Bill, you have two options: Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). There are four eligibility categories under the Active Duty program. All require a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit. From there, they vary based on length of service, when you entered active duty, if your military pay was reduced, and—in some cases—when you involuntarily separated.

Qualifications for the Selected Reserve program are:

  • A six-year service obligation in the Selected Reserve starting after June 30, 1985
  • Completion of initial active duty for training (IADT)
  • A high school diploma or equivalent before finishing IADT
  • In good standing while in an active Selected Reserve unit

If you were discharged from Selected Reserve service as a result of a non-conduct related disability, you are also still eligible for the MGIB-SR education benefit.

Education Benefit Differences

The education benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill are also different. Payment rates change annually, based on the start date of your classes. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides access to current rates for both GI bills. Here are the payment rates for the 2022 academic year to give you an idea of the differences.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers all of your tuition and fee payments if you attend a public school as an in-state student. Should you decide to attend a private or foreign school, this GI Bill will pay up to $26,381.37 per academic year.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you can also receive assistance with costs related to apprenticeship and on-the-job training, vocational flight schools, correspondence schools, and national testing programs or licensing and certification tests.

The payment rates under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty program change based on a variety of factors. Among them are your length of service, your qualification category (as outlined above), education program type, qualification for a college fund or GI Bill Kicker, and any monies you’ve paid into the $600 Buy-Up program.

For instance, if you are attending an institution full-time and have at least three years of enlistment, the monthly benefit rate is $2,150. If you’ve completed less than three years of enlistment, the monthly rate is $1,744.

Payment benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve program are a bit less complex. As of October 1, 2021, the rate is $407.00 per month for full-time students at an educational institution.

Montgomery GI Bill vs. Post-9/11 GI Bill: Which Should You Choose?

These are just a few of the differences between these two education programs. If you are unsure whether the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill is right for you, the VA offers an easy-to-use GI Bill Comparison Tool. This allows you to calculate your available benefits under each program when attending Saint Leo University based on your specific military status.

Saint Leo’s Office of Military Affairs and Services is here to help you as well. If you are connected to the military in any way, this team of caring and compassionate individuals is ready to answer your questions about your educational options. We’ll also do what we can to help you transition from active duty to civilian life, offering many services to make your reintegration feel more seamless and less stressful.