Category Archives: GI Bill

More thoughts on GI Bill for Graduate School

One semester down and I’ve been already received $47,387.35 in benefits. The GI Bill rocks. So for all of you academy grads out there who are deciding whether or not to stay in for an extra few months to get 35%, DO it.

When you see the 36 months advertised by the GI Bill it is actually more like 4 years because you are not in school during the whole calendar year. This means that for those of you who are interested in doing a 3-4 year joint-degree, you can max out the GI Bill. Although I don’t advise going down that route (basically the JD-MBA).

Generally speaking, most of you are looking at the traditional 2-year full-time MBA program and I’m a huge advocate of the traditional 2-year full-time MBA program. You will exhaust roughly half of your GI Bill on this and I think you should put the remaining 18 months to good use.

Since you have so much time to use the GI Bill, I personally would consider going for a one-year mid-career policy degree (MPA/MPP) after a few years of working experience, if my career permits a one-year break. That would still leave a good 10 months of GI Bill left, assuming 8 months in an academic year.

What to do with the remaining 8 months? Don’t forget about the certification, licensing, and national exams! The Chartered Financial Analyst program is the most expensive to attempt (and possibly the hardest to pass) so I think it is great that the GI Bill gives you some cushion to try.

I read all over the place about the supposed “$1,460 = 1 month” equation in terms of how much benefit the tests will reduce, i.e. if your test costs exactly $1,460, it will remove 1 month of benefits from your 36 total. However, I haven’t actually found anything official from the VA that states that yet, so I’m going to submit a reimbursement in the next few weeks for the CFA and the GMAT and see how much benefits it reduces.

Everything is Academic Until You Do It…

April 4th. 2 months until the GMAT and CFA Level 1. 3 months until I start business school. You can read a thousand blogs but everything is merely academic until you actually do it; All of my posts about student loans and the GI Bill don’t mean much until you actually try to use it. You quickly realize that time is not on your side (if you haven’t started yet). For public schools, even though the GI Bill will cover your tuition and you will receive a monthly stipend, you will still probably need to borrow some funds to cover other expenses.

 

Effective July 1, 2012, Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans will no longer be offered to graduate students. The semester loan limit of $10,250 will remain, but will only include Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. The Unsubsidized Stafford loan has a fixed interest rate of 6.8%. I believe it was only 3.4% last year…quite the jump. The origination fee on the Unsubsidized Stafford loan will rise from 0.5% to 1% beginning July 1, 2012. If you need more than the $10,250 semester loan limit, you could look into a Graduate Plus loan, which has a fixed interest rate of 7.9%. The origination fee on the Graduate Plus loan will rise from 2.5% to 4% beginning July 1, 2012.

 

Unless you obtained some other financial aid, you probably need to at least request the loans and then adjust accordingly as other financial aid options / fellowships succeed or fall through. For my own personal situation, I’m still waiting for my GI Bill to convert from the MGIB to the Post 9/11 version. You can check out my GI Bill page for more info. Once that is done, I need to send a Certificate of Eligibility to the school I will attend.

 

I also visited a Tricare Service Center today and upgraded my eBenefits account to Premium. Took about 20 minutes. I also got my CAC card confiscated and it was replaced with some other card that looks pretty similar to the ID cards that was provided to your dependents when you were on active duty. Apparently, you don’t get a CAC card while in the IRR. I have seen conflicting guidance so I’ll get to the bottom of this eventually and post the results here.

 

Finally, I purchased some put options for Groupon, partly based on the accounting revisions as well as my own family’s experiences with them. My family owns small businesses and it seems using Groupon is like a Pyrrhic victory. We’ll see how that goes. Besides my retirement portfolios, I’m going to go purely with options for the next two years.

Cost Benefit Analysis: Using GI Bill to Pay for CFA and GMAT

Good news…CFA is an authorized exam under the GI Bill.  they subtract months off of your GI Bill per test. Bad news: If you are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you will be charged one month of entitlement for each test taken or each $1,460 reimbursed (whichever is less). If you are using any other GI Bill your entitlement is charged proportionate to the cost of the test compared to your full-time monthly payment rate. So that means if I wanted to get reimbursed for the CFA level 1 ($1,175) and the GMAT ($250) that would remove roughly one month ($1,425) away from my 36 months of GI Bill. My June 2011 CFA costs below:

1 Level I CFA Examination Registration $745.00
1 CFA Exam Enrollment June 2011 $490.00
1 Level I Print Curriculum June 2011 $225.00
1 Level I eBook Curriculum June 2011 $185.00
Discount $490.00
Shipping $20.00
Sales Tax $0.00

If you know for sure that you are only pursuing a 2-year graduate degree then you shouldn’t use the GI Bill to cover any testing or licensing examination fees. If you are using the GI Bill for a 4-year undergraduate degree, then definitely don’t use the GI Bill to cover any testing or licensing examination fees. Although I’m starting an MBA this fall, I’m also considering a one-year mid-career MPA or MPP 5-8 years down the road. The only variable is how the GI Bill will be affected by then. Once Afghanistan is done in 2014, who knows what will happen to veteran benefits? The pessimistic view is that it could be best to just exhaust them before negative legislation comes out. A more optimistic scenario is more relaxed transferring rules and I could perhaps transfer my remaining 12 months of benefits, after using 24 months for my MBA, to my daughter.