"Rate of pursuit" is the number of credits you’re taking divided by the number of credits considered full-time by your school (rounded to the nearest tenth).
While you're taking courses using funding from the new GI Bill, your initial 36-month entitlement will be reduced based on the number of credits you're taking and which benefits (tuition & fees payment, housing allowance, book stipend) you're receiving. The table below indicates how many days will be deducted from your 36-month entitlement.
|Your benefit||deduction from 36-month entitlement|
Attending school Full-time
attending school less than full-time
|Receiving tuition & fees||1 day for each day of certified enrollment||1 day times rate of pursuit percentage for each day of certified enrollment|
|Receiving only housing allowance||1 day for each day during which you receive housing allowance||1 day times rate of pursuit percentage for each day you receive housing allowance|
|Receiving only book stipend||1 day for every $41.67 you receive||1 day for every $41.67 you receive|
Note that these deductions apply whether you're using these benefits while you're still in the Coast Guard or after you've left.
If you relinquished benefits under one of the other GI Bills to elect benefits under the new GI Bill, charges to your entitlement will be made as if you were still under the version of the GI Bill you relinquished.
If you're eligible for benefits under the new (Post-9/11) GI Bill (Chapter 33), on active duty, and pursuing a degree program on a more-than-half-time basis, the DVA will reimburse you for the difference between the actual cost of a course and the amount Tuition Assistance covers. This is called the "Top-up benefit" and you activate it using the same form you use to activate your GI Bill benefits. However, as with most things, there are a few cautions to keep in mind.
Once you've activated your GI Bill benefit, you'll have 36 months of entitlement in your “education fund” and 36 months of Top-up to use. When you receive Top-up reimbursements, two things happen.
First, the amount of your 36-month full-time new GI Bill entitlement is reduced.
Say you’re taking one three-credit course that starts on 4 September and ends on 15 December (103 days). Tuition is $460/credit and TA only covers $250/credit. That leaves you having to pay $210/credit ($630) for tuition and (let's say) $150 for fees out of your pocket.
After you've been reimbursed for costs not paid for by TA, the DVA will deduct an amount of time from your 36-month new GI Bill entitlement equal to the rate of pursuit (see definition above) times the length of the term. In this example, that works out to 0.25 x 103 days or 25.75 days.
This will leave you with about 35 months and 4 days of new GI Bill entitlement remaining in your “education fund”.
Second, when you use Top-up, the number of months you can use it is also reduced, but not the same way as described above (using the GI Bill while on active duty).
Because you used Top-up for 103 days (4 September and through 15 December) or 3 months and 13 days, your 36 months of Top-up benefit will be reduced by that amount of time. That means you now have 32 months and 17 days of Top-up benefit left.
Moral: When you use Top-up time is deducted from the 36 months of new GI Bill benefits and from the 36 months of Top-up benefits you start with. If you’re attending a school that runs on a semester system, you’ll deplete your new GI Bill faster than if you’re attending a school that uses a quarter system. This is because semesters are longer than quarters (generally 15 weeks vs. 10 weeks).
And if you can take courses from schools which charge less than $250/semester credit (or $166.67/quarter credit), you can avoid using your GI Bill at all until you leave active duty and thereby use it to your best advantage.
If you're one of the many far-sighted people who took advantage of the MGIB-AD's Buy-up option, you need to know that the new GI Bill does not include any provision that allows you to sue the extra money you contributed or the Coast Guard's 8-to-1 matching funds if you decide to convert to the new GI Bill.
That is, the money you've contributed under Buy-up will be lost if you elect new GI Bill benefits and relinquish your MGIB-AD benefits.
What does this mean to you? Only you can decide if you should continue making Buy-up contributions. But if you're absolutely sure you're going to elect benefits under the new GI Bill, you should probably stop making Buy-up contributions.
You can still use your additional Buy-up money if you stay with the MGIB-AD. But if you want to use it and use benefits under the new GI Bill, I highly recommend you contact your senators and representative in Congress to let them know your feelings.