The original Montgomery GI Bill-AD (active duty)

Many people who utilize VA educational benefits now are probably using their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for their tuition. Before the Post 9/11 GI Bill many service members were eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill. The biggest difference in this benefit and the Post 9/11 GI Bill is that you have to pay into it. To be eligible, service members had to pay $1200 or have your military pay reduced by $100 for the first 12 months of service. Another big difference is that you could be eligible for this benefit with serving at minimum 2 years of active duty time.

A service member also has to sign up to participate in this benefit. Unlike the Post 9/11 where you automatically qualify based on what years you served. You may be able to get a maximum of 48 months of VA education benefits—not including Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits. But many applicants are eligible for only 36 months. Many service members swapped to the Post 9/11 once it became available, but still some chose to utilize this benefit while pursuing their education. Below is the eligibility criteria for the Montgomery GI Bill-AD (active duty).

Eligibility Criteria

Category I

All of these are true: 

  • You have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • You entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, and
  • You had your military pay reduced by $100 a month for the first 12 months of service

And you’ve served continuously (without a break) for at least one of these time periods:

  • 3 years, or
  • 2 years if that was your agreement when you enlisted, or
  • 4 years if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty (called the 2 by 4 program)

Category II

All of these are true:

  • You have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • You entered active duty before January 1, 1977 (or before January 2, 1978, under a delayed enlistment program contracted before January 1, 1977), and
  • You served at least 1 day 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
  • You had at least 1 day of entitlement left under the Vietnam Era GI Bill (Chapter 34) as of December 31, 1989

Category III

All of these are true:

  • You have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • You don’t qualify for MGIB under categories I or II, and
  • You had your military pay reduced by $1,200 before separation

And one of these is true:

  • You were on active duty on September 30, 1990, and involuntarily separated (not by your choice) after February 2, 1991, or
  • You involuntarily separated on or after November 30, 1993, or
  • You chose to voluntarily separate under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) program or the Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program

Category IV

Both of these are true:

  • You have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and
  • You had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution (meaning you paid it all at once)

And one of these is true:

  • You were 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
  • You entered 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

If you have any questions about this benefit please call 1800-827-1000, or visit VA.gov.

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