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The Post 9/11 GI Bill Does Not Offer Break Pay

The Post 9/11 GI Bill Does Not Offer Break Pay

“Break pay” was a feature provided by the Montgomery GI Bill that allowed students to receive financial aid during lapses between classes. GI Bill Facts and Tips defined it as:

The Montgomery GI Bill offers a payment for the “no class” period between semesters during the regular school year. There are some exceptions to the policy which are important to make note of: breaks longer than 56 days are unpaid, the student is on active duty, or the school does not use a term or semester class schedule.

You are also not authorized a break payment if your entitlements are due to end during the break. If you change schools or programs during the break, you may not be eligible for break pay. Students may request not to be paid during the break, but make sure to turn in your ‘no-pay’ request before the break starts, or you will be paid for the time.

This feature is not available to military members receiving benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Students that receive benefits from the Post 9/11 GI Bill instead of the Montgomery Bill are required to participate in continuous schooling if they want to receive their benefits year-round. While the Post 9/11 GI Bill still confers all the advantages of military scholarships and military education benefits (like the Yellow Ribbon Program and dependents benefits), the loss of Break Pay could cause problems for some service members used to the Montgomery GI Bill’s system.

For example, if your school has a two month summer intersession and you opt out of taking enough summer courses to continue your “full time student” status–whatever is necessary to be full-time– (which typically requires only half the amount of units necessary for full-time attendance in spring and fall semester)– you will not receive benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill during those two months, including the loss of any potential monthly housing stipend that you’d be receiving.

One workaround for preventing yourself from facing a lapse in your education and housing benefits is to take courses at an online university, since most of them offer year round courses without breaks between the semesters. Take a look at our list of the ways you can find a military inclusive college to choose a school for your particular needs.

If you’re already enrolled in traditional courses at a brick and mortar institution, please do note that the freeze of benefits may be a major inconvenience, but that you do not “lose” the months of benefits which are not covered by break pay. For example, if you’ve got 24 months of benefits, but choose to skip 2 months for the summer intersession, you will only use 10 months of benefits per year, rather than 12.

However, if break pay is essential for your financial needs, do note that only the Montgomery GI Bill offers this benefit.

  • OEF Veteran

    You are incorrect in this post. The 9/11 GI Bill does authorize break pay. But you cannot use it for a period longer than 56 days…aka 8 weeks.

  • oef vet 2

    OEF Vet….so if my break is longer than 56 days, do you know if they will pay me up to that 56th day but not past that?
    For example, if my summer break begins 7 May and Fall begins 18 August? Day 56 is some time in July.

  • 1st_responder

    OEF Vet 2 – I’m 99% sure the answer is no. Under the Montgomery GI Bill(Chapter 30) if your break is longer than 56 days, you will not get any break pay. I believe these are the same rules they kept in place for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you take at least 2 summer courses at your college, you will receive the benefits for the class time and you can get the break pay after your courses end. If you’re out of school from May until September, the total days off are more than 56, so you get no pay for anything.

    Look up your city hall and get in touch with your local VA representative. You may be eligible for a VA-sponsored work-study too.

    Also, this article mentions online courses. If all of your courses are online, you won’t get the housing allowance. FYI.

  • Dale

    Does the post 9/11 pay tuition during the winter intersession? TIA

    • Kourtnie McKenzie


      To my knowledge, the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not cover winter intersession. You’ll want to ask the financial aid department at your school what options you have available; they should have representatives that can help you out more. The VA is also another option, although I understand their phone lines are cloggy.

      Hope this helps!

  • pete

    The Post 911 does not offer a break pay ……. i am in a break now (28 days) and am not getting paid for it. SUCKS!!

  • mitch

    Pete: I am in same situation, but I have been told break pay is automatic, however it comes after the start of the next semester if you are enrolled. Prior to calling and asking, I thought I would receive the break pay on Jan 1 since I had already enrolled in Spring 2010 classes.

    • Kourtnie McKenzie

      I have actually heard conflicting stories on this one since writing about it. Some people are getting break pay and others are being rejected. I would be curious to see if a government official could address this question specifically.

  • Yvonne

    You DO get break pay, but you will not get it on time. Lets take Spring 2010 semester. If you finished fall classes say 18 Dec and you start Sping up on 13 Jan, you will be paid from dec 1-18 on January 1st and you will get paid for Jan 13-31 on Feb 1. But the time off you had from Dec 19-Jan 12, you will get that money after the VA has processed you and you start getting your money for Spring semester. Its totally jacked up from the MGIBill, but oh well.

  • Christina

    Does anyone know if I decide to take summer classes would I still have to go full time to get the 9/11 GI bill? Also, is there a break-pay given for summer break if I decide to not take classes?

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  • Tabitha Labunski

    I did get my break pay from Fall 09 to Spring 10. It took forever for me to finally get it but you do not get it while the actual break in session is taking place. It gets processed way past your first payment for the new term you are in. Also the summer load to be considered full time is not the same >6 credit load you need for a normal semester.

  • Christopher Vasas

    If your Certifying official certified the enrollment early then your pay would be a smooth transition automatically. You are allowed up to 120 days before the start of the term to process the enrollment. VA Once as a cert ID. Feel free to ask for it. As for break pay, Post 9/11 offers it and you should apply early for each semester to receive it smoothly instead of having to hurry up and wait for it. The more I work with the certifying official as I too am in class the more I learn as the program develops. Keep in mind it is still developing! The more time you give the VA the better off you will be.