GI Bill Housing Allowance (BAH) Information

Here are some questions I have answered through my personal experience using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  The GI Bill housing allowance is often (incorrectly) referred to as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).  The official name is Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA).  It is actually a separate benefit that is tied to a certain level of BAH.  Many people (including myself) have been incorrectly referring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance as BAH.

Please note that I did not receive BAH while I was on Active Duty in the Marine Corps.  I can only speak for my experiences while using the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a veteran attending college.

How much is the GI Bill Housing Allowance?

GI Bill Housing Allowance - Military BAH Calculator

Screenshot of the Military BAH Calculator

The answer is that it depends where you are going to school.  The GI Bill MHA varies depending on the cost of living in the area.  The monthly amount you receive is based off the zip code of the school you are attending.  It is not based off the zip code of your residence.  All military veterans receive MHA based on that of an E-5 WITH DEPENDENTS who is receiving BAH, regardless of your rank when you were discharged.

Check out the military BAH calculator to find out how much the MHA is in your schools area.  Remember to use the official zip code of your school and not the zip code of your residence.  You will search for the most recent year listed and set the Pay Grade to E-5.  When the results appear, you want to look at the numbers of E-5 WITH DEPENDENTS, regardless if you have dependents or not.

You may also be interested in reading: Is it Possible to Live Off the GI Bill?

When is the GI Bill Housing Allowance Paid?

When will I get my MHA?  This was one of my biggest questions.  The GI Bill housing allowance is paid monthly at the beginning of the month AFTER you have completed that month of school.  So far with me, they have been very good at getting the money to me on time.  You should get the money on the first of the month.  If the first falls on a weekend or a holiday, then you should get the payment before that weekend or holiday.  Each MHA payment you receive is for the prior month’s schooling.

How Will I Receive my GI Bill Housing Allowance?

The GI Bill Housing Allowance is direct deposited to my checking account.  I don’t ever have to cash a check.  I’m not sure what other options are available.  Please post a comment if you are using a different method.

How do I Verify the Exact Payment Amount I’m Getting for MHA Every Month?

You will need to sign up for an E-Benefits account if you haven’t already.  Once you’re logged in, hover over “View My Status” then click on “VA Payment History”.  This usually updates around the 25th of each month.  So you can check the exact amount they are sending you a little ahead of time.  This is also where you can track your entire payment history.  Unfortunately, the names of the payments are not very descriptive.  So you may receive random payments sometimes out of the blue and even checking this page will not tell you WHY you got the random payment or WHAT it was for. For example, sometimes I’ll have like $32.94 deposited into my account a couple days before I get my Monthly Housing Allowance.

Where to Set/Change Direct Deposit Information for GI Bill Benefits

Your direct deposit information can be changed at the WAVE website.

Please Contribute!

If you have some additional information that I have not included, or if you have a different way of doing something then we’d all like to hear from you!  Feel free to leave a comment below.  Any questions are also welcome.

Notice

Please forgive me as there will be a delay in approving new comments, now through February. I will not have regular access to this site during this time. I approve first time commentors manually to prevent spam. I am not ignoring you. I will get to all comments as soon as I can. Please forgive me for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thank you for your understanding.

In the meantime, if someone asks a question in the comments and you know the answer, I encourage you to participate and help out our peers. Thank you!

About Eric

I'm a Marine Corps Veteran utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for college. My EAS was in February of 2012. I have been attending college full time since then, and have been living on only the MHA. If you have any questions about my experiences, please feel free to email me. Others may have similar questions.

Comments

  1. 1. Only the Military pays BAH so you are not receiving BAH.
    2. We have successfully fought the VA for the 1st couple of years on this program and successfully got them to update their web site so it no longer says that the VA pays BAH.,
    3. This confusion causes all kinds of problems for the School Certifying Officials – I have had to listen to veterans complain that they should be paid more because they retired/separated as an E6 or E7. I have had multiple veterans ask if they could receive on-base housing instead (next to a large military base), veterans tell me that they were paid too much because they had no dependents or got out as an E4/E3. etc, etc, etc.

    Congress authorized VA to pay a Monthly Housing Allowance set as the BAH rate for an E5 with dependent for the school’s zip code.

    So please refer to your payments as the Monthly Housing Allowance not BAH.

    Also your remarks above imply that a Veteran would receive August’s MHA payment on the 1st of August not the 1st of September. All 8 VA Education programs pay in arrears.

    Thanks for the well written blog. You are doing a great job of clarifying information for Veterans.

    • Alan, thanks for the clarification! I honestly have not viewed the official details page of the Post 9/11 GI Bill in a while (until just now). I was unaware that it was not officially referred to as BAH. Thanks for that correction! Much appreciated.

  2. Those random extra payments you mentioned are determined by the VA and they are to help pay for your books and other supplies and it is a percentage of your costs for that term. The school sends them the costs of that and they then determine how much to pay you. I’ve been going to school for 2 years now and it has worked out great.

  3. Something to make a note of in regards to the Monthly Housing Allowance is that when transitioning from active to retired, if you start school while on terminal leave, you will not receive the Monthly Housing Allowance from the VA until they receive your DD214. They will then give it to you from the last date of service. I was counting on it that extra housing allowance because everywhere I looked and in the transition assistance programs, I was told that the Post 9 11 GI Bill Benefits were completely seprate from your military pay and entitlements. I have since found out differently and it has really screwed my finances up. It doesn’t help that I also found out the hard way, that they hold up your last pay check for twenty days to audit your pay records.

  4. I just started school this month, My discharge date was 4 nov… I called VA to check on my status and I was told everything was good…Except that i wont be getting MHA for the month, until January there explanation was because i was active duty for the first 4 days of the month im considered active duty the whole month… Which to me makes no sense and I have yet to find anything on their website about this at all….

    • Lorenzo, that is very unfortunate! I was not aware of this rule. I didn’t start school until a couple months after my EAS date. Unfortunately, their website does not give every little detail about the rules. Thankfully, since you posted this information, people who read this in the future will know about this rule now. Thank you!

  5. If my buddy has a kid and got legally separated before his EAS date but didn’t report the separation, and is collecting BAH at the E-5 rate, but now he is divorced. Is that legal, to collect BAH with depends living with you?

    • I’m no lawyer, but the GI Bill is a benefit available to all veterans. No matter if you’re single, married, separated, or if you have dependents or not. One thing that does matter though, is you have to be honorably discharged.

  6. Hey Eric,

    Thanks for your blog, it answered some of the questions I had about the Post 9/11 housing and book stipend benefit. I had a curiousity question for you. I received a letter from the VA stating the amounts they were going to pay me regarding my benefit. Then I get deposits in my bank account that don’t seem to match up to any of the amounts they said they were going to send. I am not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth, but is there anyway to ensure I am getting what they said I should be receiving as I go along? Or should I just trust that they are going to send what they promised to provide? Either way, the extra money is awesome, you would just think that the amounts would add up to the totals they listed in the detailed letter.

    Eric

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Eric! I have noticed the same thing happen once in a while. I have not kept a detailed record or anything, but I have noticed that sometimes I get slightly less than I’m supposed to. But then the next month I’ll get slightly more than I’m supposed to. The difference for me usually ends up being less than 100 bucks. I can’t explain why this happens, I’ve just been kindly accepting that they’re giving me what they say they’re giving me. Like I said, I haven’t been keeping a detailed record of it, but it seems as though they eventually get the money to me. If you’re missing out on a lot (I would personally say 100 bucks or more would be a lot) then you should give them a call. I’m with you, they’re helping me out and I hate to be like “hey, wheres my money?” But at the same time, you earned that money. You held up your end of your contract with your military service, so they should hold up theirs. Hopefully this helps.

      • Hi Eric. Thank you for all of the information. I have a few posts/comments.

        #1 In regards to not keeping a detailed record of what they payed you, or wanting to verify that you have been getting payed as you should, you can actually call the VA and request a full account audit on your account/profile. I can’t recall the whole process, but I had to do that when I was finishing my Bachelors, because the VA was stating that they overpaid the school and that I would be held responsible, while the school was saying that they didn’t overpay the VA. Anyhow, with a full audit it will show you every single payment that the VA has done on your behalf to both the school and to your checking account.

        #2 I used some of my Post 9/11 to finish my Bachelors a few months ago. I did all of my classes online though, so was only getting a portion of what I could have been getting had I gone to actual classes here in NYC. Anyway, I’m about to start on my MBA in March, and have 18 months left of benefits and was trying to find out what how much MHA I should be receiving, which is how I came across your Blog. You’re help would be greatly appreciated. Here goes… So if I’m understanding correctly, the MHA for NY in the zip code of 11374 (school zip code) with the criteria of being an E5 with Dependents, is $3744. Correct? So this means that it is what the VA will be giving me, according to the current rates? Furthermore, is MHA taxable? Or “should” I see $3744 every month in my checking account?

        #3 There’s a way to get a refund of the $1,200 that you used to obtain the MGI Bill, if it wasn’t used, but instead the Veteran chose to switch and used up ALL of their Post 9/11 benefits. Here’s the Official VA link with info and criteria: https://gibill.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/949/kw/mvi%20bill%20refund

        Thanks again for posting and all of the extra info. Stay motivated. Semper Fi!

        Regards,
        Eugene

        • #2 I checked, and your numbers there are correct. Your MHA is non-taxable (w00t w00t!). So you should see that exact amount direct deposited into your account. Although, it may be a few dollars (or cents) off some months. If that happens, they have been really good about giving me the extra dollars (or cents) the next month (or giving you less, if they overpaid). I have never had to call them about it. They have been very good about giving me exactly what that chart says I’m supposed to be getting.

          I’m sure I can speak for everyone else visiting (and myself) and say thanks for the additional info!

  7. Hi Eric,
    I would just like to say thank You for the information, wouldn’t have found the answers to the questions I had without this blog.
    Semper Fi

  8. Chris Morgan says:

    I have one question and was wondering if one would help? Well this make two… I am a full time student and a 70 percent disabled Vet. I started school the last week of Oct. Now that its past November I still have not received my (MAH) for November. It was not until December 12th that I received notification that my Post-911 Chapter 33 was awarded. Will i still get paid for November? The reason why it took so long was my Vet Rep in school for got to fill out a master promissory note and have me sign it. and i delayed the processing… Please help I am running low on cash not working and in school.

    • Yikes! Honestly, that sounds like a question you should ask the VA rep at your school. I haven’t come across a situation like that myself. I wouldn’t want to speculate what would happen and get your hopes up (or disappoint you). You could probably just give them a call and ask over the phone.

    • Yes Chris, If you have not already squared wawy this situation, your VA rep will be able to send the proper paper work letting the VA know that you were attending school using your awarded Post 9-11 benefits and your MHA will be back dated and paid to you in full… I hope this helps.

    • Hey Chris,

      The VA is a little slow but will usually get you your money in two to three months. I didn’t realize you could claim MAH and the book stipend without claiming the tuition. I was getting tuition help from my job and didn’t claim my Post 9/11 benefits for almost a year. The VA backpaid me for all of the time missed and then I rolled into my monthly payments. I will also suggest signing up for the EBenefits at the https://www.ebenefits.va.gov web site. Become a preferred member and you can access everything. From any C&P claims, to your school information and even view the VA payment history. The VA will post your upcoming payment a couple of days prior so you even know the amount you are about to receive. I am sure you will agree that the most frustrating thing about the VA is thier slow and or lack of communication. This website fixes that problem and if you are not already signed up, I would highly recommend it. You can even update your DEERS information for yourself and your family. Anyway, good luck and stay safe.

      Eric

  9. One question regarding the MAH. I will be attending a resident course given at a satellite location for my school. I will be receiving MAH for the schools zip code since the course is consideret resident and not online. The classes are condensed into a 10 week period per class. Will I receive MAH for only the 10 weeks or will I continue to collect MAH for the remainder of the term?

    • You will receive the MHA only for the 10 weeks that you attend class. I know this for a fact because that is how summer classes work. At my college, there are 8 week classes and 15 week classes. Once the 8 week classes are finished, the MHA drops. I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking!

  10. if i go to class room only for one class and do my other class online can still get the full amount for MHA??

    • As long as you take one class at the school, you rate the full MHA. Even if all the rest of your classes are online during that semester. I have not tried doing that personally, but I do remember reading that in the past. Also, several veterans I know remind me of that all the time. LOL!

      Now remember, when I say “you rate the full MHA” I mean the same amount you would rate if all your classes were at the school. If you’re only attending classes part time, then your MHA will adjust accordingly. Your classes still need to amount to full time to receive 100% of the MHA for your area.

  11. Hello.
    I had a quick question. My mother transferred her GI Bill to me, will i still receive a monthly BAH being a dependent? Thanks.

    • I do believe that is how it works. You should receive anything your mother would receive if she was using it.

      • I was wondering. My ex who is still active duty transferred his 9/11 GI bill to the children. My oldest is a sophomore in college and she received BAH based on his current rank of O-5 and not the MAH of E-5 with dependents. My son will now be attending a trade school and I’m trying to figure out if he will be getting the same allowance based on the school zip code and rank as my daughter did. FYI: His father is still active duty. We are looking for housing and don’t want to go by an expected amount based on past experience and then have a rude awakening!

  12. The answers here are very helpful, but I too have one of my own. Quite hard to get a call in without long waiting times…

    I registered for college classes (full time) back in Nov 2013, for the 2014 spring semester. At that time I was on terminal leave up until recently Dec 28, 13. I saw the post here from Cristie where she said “if you start school while on terminal leave, you will not receive the Monthly Housing Allowance from the VA until they receive your DD214.”

    For me though classes wont start during terminal leave (they start Jan 13th). But this is where my question about the MHA comes in. After EAS (Dec 28, 2013) does the V.A. automatically receive my DD-214? or do I need to submit it to them personally?

    In the middle of December I received my Letter of Eligibility. Then just last week I received my book stipend. Now I’m just concerned about if the V.A. has my 214 . Thanks for the help everyone.

    • I’m just curious… did you submit your DD214 to your school? If you did that, then I believe they then forward it to the VA. That’s how it worked for me. If they’re sending you money, I’m willing to bet they already got the paperwork they needed. I don’t believe they are in the business of doing any favors (sending you the money without the required paperwork).

      • I didn’t receive my DD214 until a few days before classes started. Pretty I’m good to go now after putting in some work to figure things out…

        Apparently my V.A. rep at the college told me that I was good to go with everything since the school has my Letter of Eligibility & tuition already paid. My gut wasn’t feeling right so I called the hot line for the post 9/11 (waited 45 mins…) to confirm. What they told me was “If you retire/separate and plan on using your post 9/11 g.i. bill YOU MUST mail or fax a copy of your DD214 to the VA as proof you are no longer Active Duty status. Not providing this document wont process the MHA entitlement of the g.i. bill. but instead I would only receive my book stipend and tuition paided directly to the school.” My VA rep at the college never once mentioned anything to me about needing my DD214…

        I faxed the info to them ASAP. Who knows how long it would take with snail mail for them to see the 214. I’ll call them again here in the next few days to see if its been processed.

        • Hi Jerome,

          You should look into contacting, preferably walking in, to our VA Regional Office. I’m not sure where you live, or how/where to look that up. But here in NYC, they have a VA Regional Office with an Edu Dept, so it’s ALOT easier to get things rolling especially during crunch time.

          You can probably look up office locations on the VA site. I hope that helps. Good luck!

          Regards,
          Eugene

          • Jerome… me again…

            Meant “…preferably walking in, to YOUR…” not “our”. Sorry, typing to fast.

  13. Marine wife says:

    Hey thanks for this article very good info! I have a question I’m not sure if you know but worth a shot. My husband just got out and is going to school full time, is it possible for him to also collect unemployment with still receiving the monthly payments from the G.I Bill?

    • I haven’t tried filing for unemployment and I don’t know anyone who has. If you do try, I’d be very curious of the outcome.

      • I received my books and supplies stipend on 9 jan 14, I got my certificate of eligibility 13 dec 13. Am I going to see the housing allowance soon? Oh and if I miss a couple days (2) from school, will that mess up me collecting housing allowance?

        • If you’re just starting school this January, you won’t receive your first housing allowance until February. The VA doesn’t necessarily care if you miss classes. However, you have to follow the attendance policy of your instructor. Your attendance can affect your final grade if your instructor feels you didn’t show up enough to really try in the class. Just skipping class for a day here and there won’t necessarily do anything as long as you’re being responsible.

    • Depends on the state where u file your claim. I am receiving both unemployment and gi bill in California.

  14. I started school on the 6th of January and i haven’t provided anyone with any bank account information. So how and when would i be receiving my MHA payment?

  15. My husbands GI Bill will be running out in the middle of the semester…..Will the VA still pay for him to finish the semester AND will we still be getting MHA until the semester is up?

    • Joana, I haven’t personally used up my benefits yet so I can’t 100% accurately answer this question. However, my educated guess would be that once the benefits are used up you will not continue receiving payments for the rest of semester. The letters they send you in the mail (after your school lets VA know of your status) should confirm when the payments will stop coming. I hope this helps.

  16. I just wanted to make sure that I was understanding everything correctly. I started school jan 6 and I haven’t recieved my book money yet. So from what I understand I should recieve both my book money and mha on the 1st.

    • Your are correct about the MHA. However, your book stipend should really come before the semester starts (it always has for me). Just keep in mind how much time you gave the process to go through. If you registered for classes and applied for GI Bill benefits in January, your payments will come later than you think. It’s always better to take care of everything at least 30 days before the semester starts so you will get your benefits when you need them.

  17. I started school in January also, but on ebenefits I only received a book stipend and not the mha for this month, if I get it next month will they pay me for this month too

    • Yes, your book stipend should come before the semester begins. Your first MHA payment will come later. That first payment will most likely be a bit more than normal, because they will also pay you for that first month.

  18. Chase Ridgeway says:

    I ETS last year and plan on going to college this fall but I am curious on how long it took for you to receive a confirmation that your GI bill was accepted. I applied to a college last summer and I was accepted and send my info to the VA but then decided I did not want to attend that college so I waited. What is an easy way to check your status and make sure that its still waiting to be used. I have not got paid for it but I just want to make sure everything is good to go for this college I plan on attending this fall because I need this work out to be able to live up there. I appreciate all the info this far but I just need a few more things answered. Thanks again

    • If you login to eBenefits (there is a link above in the article) you can view your GI Bill status. This includes how much you have used and how much you have left (and if you’re eligible/signed up). I would say check with the VA rep of your school that you want to attend at least 30 days before the semester begins (really ASAP) to make sure he/she can send your information to VA in a timely manner.

  19. My husband is getting out in July, my question is how do we go about starting the process to getting MHA? He is already in school so not sure if that will have an effect on the MHA.

  20. Kimberly says:

    My boyfriend is getting out in May on terminal leave and his enlistment will be up in July. He starts school August 23rd or around that date. He has already received the Certificate of Eligibility for the GI Bill and once we actually get to Texas he’ll get all the other paperwork filed that he needs to, probably by mid July. So my question is, based on when his classes start, should he receive his first MHA payment in September, or not until October?

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