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As a Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) recipient, you are entitled to a tuition and fee payment that is paid to your school on your behalf, a books and supplies stipend, and a monthly housing allowance (BAH). This article will be focusing on the BAH.
The first thing to understand is that based on your time in service, you will receive a certain percentage of the GI Bill. If you completed at least 36 months on active duty, you will have 100 percent of the benefits for 36 months. If you completed less time, you will receive Chapter 33 benefits for the full amount of time (36 months); however, the amount will be subject to that percentage.
How do I know how much money I will receive for MHA? How is the BAH Calculated?
If you attend a school as a traditional student at a brick-and-mortar school, then you will be given an amount equal to the E-5 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) WITH dependents for your school’s ZIP code.
If you attend school through distance learning, you will be given one half of the BAH national average.
If you attend school abroad, you will receive the national average BAH.
So you want to find the current BAH amounts.
So what should you consider when choosing a school based on MHA?
- BAH is calculated for the ZIP code your school is in, not the ZIP code you live in. One thing you can do to get the best bang for your buck is to attend a school in a city, where BAH is high, and live in the suburbs, where the cost of living is lower.
- Keep in mind the cost of utilities, food and supplies when searching for a place to live. If utilities are not included in rent, they can increase your monthly cost substantially. Unlike in the military, Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) is not added to your MHA.
- Get a roommate. Splitting the rent for a two-bedroom apartment is always cheaper than paying for a one-bedroom or even a studio by yourself.
- See if your college website has an “off-campus housing” page. They may list properties that are not affiliated with the school but have been certified as good choices.
- Make sure you and your landlord are on the same page regarding the length of the apartment lease: Is it year-round or just for school months? Also discuss with your landlord if the entire rent will be your responsibility if your roommate moves out.
Below is a table of seven regions with the highest BAH in different states, along with areas nearby with a lower cost of living (COL).