Can I Get Full BAH for Online Classes?

Did you know that the GI Bill® pays for more than just your tuition? If you’re a veteran using Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits for your education, you can also receive money to help with housing while you study. The amount you receive depends on the percentage of GI Bill benefits you’re eligible for, how many classes you attend per week, and the location of your school.

So, what about students who don’t attend in-person classes? Many veterans choose online education over a traditional classroom for its convenience, flexibility, and cost savings, but can you still get the full allowance for housing if you’re taking advantage of distance learning?

GI Bill Housing Allowance Benefits FAQ

If you’ve only had experience with a housing payment as an active-duty servicemember, you might be accustomed to thinking about your benefit as a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). However, once you leave the military and start using your GI Bill benefits as a veteran, the terminology and calculations change. It can become confusing quickly, so we’ve put together a list of some frequently asked questions to help you make sense of the housing benefits you’re eligible for as an online student.

Can I get full BAH for online classes?

Technically, no. You don’t get the BAH for online classes because BAH is only paid to active-duty military members and isn’t available to veterans. The housing payment for veterans using their GI Bill education benefits is called a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). Veterans taking exclusively online classes are paid an MHA up to half the national average.

What’s the difference between MHA and BAH?

The Department of Defense provides BAH for active-duty military personnel who have housing needs that aren’t met by available military options. The Department of Veteran Affairs provides MHA to veterans to subsidize housing costs while in school. Both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Forever GI Bill® include MHA payments to those who qualify.

What is an MHA payment?

The MHA for veterans is based on the BAH rates for active-duty servicemembers. MHA payments are calculated based on your GI Bill eligibility tier, how many credits you’re taking, whether you’re attending in-person or online classes, and the physical location of your school.

Who’s eligible to receive MHA benefits?

Veterans who meet the below qualifications are eligible for the maximum MHA:

  • Receipt of Post-9/11 or Forever GI Bill benefits. Montgomery GI Bill® recipients do not receive a separate housing allowance.
  • An active-duty service record of at least 36 months. If you served fewer than 36 months, your MHA is prorated. If you didn’t serve a full 36 months but received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, or you served at least 30 continuous days before being discharged because of a disability connected to your service, you also qualify for full benefits.
  • A rate of pursuit (ROP) greater than 50%. To calculate your ROP, you divide the number of credits you’re taking by the number of credits your school considers to be full time.

Refer to the VA website for more information on how your Post-9/11 GI benefits are determined.

How much can I get for housing?

The GI Bill housing allowance for online classes differs from veteran to veteran depending on individual circumstances. Excelsior’s Lt. Col. Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center recommends the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool as the best way to estimate how much you’ll receive for housing each year.

Do benefit rates get updated?

Yes, Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit rates are updated every August 1 and are current through July 31 of the following year.

What if I also take in-person classes?

If you take at least one class in person while also learning online, you may be eligible for a higher MHA based on the zip code of the campus where your in-person school is located.

What if I take classes part time?

You can be eligible for MHA if you take classes part time, but your ROP can’t be less than 50%.

When would I receive MHA payments?

The MHA is paid directly to you monthly while your classes are in session. You won’t receive a payment during school breaks.

Will Excelsior help me with my GI Bill benefits?

Excelsior has veteran admissions counselors to help you make the most of your GI Bill education benefits, including your GI Bill housing allowance for online classes. We also have articles, resource guides, and the Lt. Col. Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center available any time you need assistance. If you have any questions about the benefit application process, contact Veteran Admissions by email at or by phone at 844-843-9299.

Your Monthly Housing Allowance is a valuable benefit that can help ease the stress of affording housing while you focus on your education. By understanding the eligibility requirements, calculating your rate, and managing your funds wisely, you can make the most of this critical government program in achieving your goals.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at