“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.