Can You Get a Montgomery GI Bill Refund? Refund Rules and Eligibility

I signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when I enlisted in the military. Like many military members and veterans, I haven’t had the chance to use all my MGIB benefits yet. Part of the reason is because the military has a generous tuition assistance (TA) program. I completed a year of college before…
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

The Military Wallet has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Military Wallet and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on The Military Wallet are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear, but does not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations. The Military Wallet does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

I signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when I enlisted in the military. Like many military members and veterans, I haven’t had the chance to use all my MGIB benefits yet. Part of the reason is because the military has a generous tuition assistance (TA) program. I completed a year of college before I enlisted, and I used TA to complete my bachelor’s degree while I was on active duty. The only time I touched my GI Bill was to get a top up when I started a master’s program (TA only covers up to a certain dollar limit per semester hour, and the master’s classes exceeded that limit). So it was the GI Bill to the rescue!

What Happens if You Don’t Use Your GI Bill Benefits?

Unfortunately, the Montgomery GI Bill is pretty much a use-it-or-lose-it benefit. In most cases, you will lose your Montgomery GI Bill benefits if you don’t use them within 10 years of separating from the military. The Post-9/11 GI Bill expires 15 years after you separate – just one of many reasons why you should make the switch if you are eligible!

If you aren’t eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and your 10-year time limit has already passed, then you may be out of luck. I’m coming up on four years since I separated from the USAF, so I need to start making plans if I want to use my GI Bill benefits.

Can You Get a Montgomery GI Bill Refund?

We frequently receive several common questions about GI Bill benefits – primarily about losing GI Bill benefits, transferring GI Bill benefits and getting a refund for GI Bill benefits if the benefits are not used. In most cases, the answer is no, you cannot get a refund for your GI Bill. But some veterans may be eligible to receive a Montgomery GI Bill refund once they have used their entire Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit.

The Montgomery GI Bill usually works like this: You have one chance to buy into the MGIB when you join the military service. 

If you opt in, you pay $1,200. Then you can use your MGIB benefits while on active duty or within 10 years from the time you separate from the military (there are some exceptions to the time limits, particularly if you rejoin the service or are recalled to active duty; this will restart your clock). You typically lose any portion of your MGIB you do not use within the 10-year time limit, and there are usually no refunds.

MGIB Refunds Available for Post-9/11 GI Bill Users

There is an exception to the no-refund policy for the Montgomery GI Bill. You can get a refund of your $1,200 buy-in if you are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you elect to use those benefits instead of the Montgomery GI Bill you bought into and you use the entire Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

From the GI Bill FAQ page:

Q: Do I get a refund of the $1,200 buy-in for the Montgomery GI Bill?

A: Any individual who paid the $1,200 buy-in for the Montgomery GI Bill and elects to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill may be refunded a proportional amount if, and after all entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is used. Individuals who do not use all their entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will not receive a refund of contributions paid under the Montgomery GI Bill.

How Does the Montgomery GI Bill Refund Work?

Based on my understanding, you have to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, elect to give up your MGIB benefits and switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, use all your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and request a refund. You will receive the MGIB refund with your final BAH payment.

The MGIB refund is also prorated based on the amount of Montgomery GI Bill eligibility you have remaining. For example, if you didn’t use any of your Montgomery GI Bill benefits, you should receive the entire $1,200 refund. If you used one-third of your MGIB benefits, you may only receive $800 back and so forth. However, I am not 100% certain about the formula used, and the VA rep I spoke with on the phone mentioned he would have to run the query on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for more information specific to your situation.

This is a great benefit for veterans who are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Just keep in mind the requirements: You must use 100% of your Post-9/11 GI Bill to be eligible, you must be receiving BAH during your final month of GI Bill eligibility and you will receive a prorated refund if you used any portion of your MGIB benefits.

About Post Author

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

Reader Interactions


    Leave A Comment:


    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Joe says

    I joined that Navy in 1993 and had the MGIB. In 2006 I used the MGIB for two classes to finish my degree that wasn’t covered by TA. Fast forward to 2019 when I retired, I was told that I no longer had any GI bill because I used it for two classes. I never transferred it, and now want to know if I have truly lost this benefit because I took two classes.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Joe, you will need to contact the VA to verify your MGIB eligibility. Because you served through 2019, you should be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which has no expiration for those veterans who left active-duty service on or after Jan. 1, 2013. In most cases, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a better deal than the MGIB. Here is more information about the Forever GI Bill, as it is often referred to.

      I recommend contacting the VA to get a full benefits overview. You may be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, healthcare, and more.

  2. adam says

    can i get a refund of my GI bill payment if i transfer my post 911 bill to my child. i never used my GI Bill and did a transfer to the post 911 and then transferred that to my kid. i finished my degree with TA and i am hoping i can still get the $1200 I paid into the GI bill back

  3. Niki rea says

    He is probably a good one. I was in in 1993 got out in 1996 for a medical discharge. When I went in I paid into the MGIB $1200. I also had the Navy College Fund. I attended 2 years of college after I got out and received my associate’s degree with the GI BILL. Then I attended another year but with vocational rehabilitation. I totally had forgotten about the Navy college Fund and they didn’t use by GI bill the year I was on vocational rehabilitation. So what if anything would I be owed? Also how would I go about it.

Load More Comments

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertising Notice: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet; For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked and this compensation may affect how, where and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.