Did you know that as a veteran using your GI Bill benefits, you will also receive a Monthly Housing Allowance? The Monthly Housing Allowance is basically the same as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents.

Your BAH (or MHA) depends on a lot of different factors, including area of the country where the school is located.  Consequently, areas with a higher cost-of-living have significantly higher BAH’s than others. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of the colleges and universities with the highest BAH in the US.

First, what are the cities with the highest BAH in the US?

When enrolled at a college or university, you will receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). The calculation for BAH for your personal situation depends on a few factors including:

  • zip code of the school
  • your GI Bill eligibility
  • if you are a full-time or part-time student 

As BAH is partially determined by zip code of the school, it is important to know where the school is located.  Schools in more expensive areas of the country will have a higher BAH.

Here is a partial list of the cities with the highest BAH rates in the country.  The figures show the BAH for these cities based on 2018 rates.

San Francisco, CA – $4,329

Santa Clara County, CA – $3,759

New York, NY – $3,669

Oakland, CA – $3,396

Long Island, NY – $3,285

Westchester County, NY $3,093

Nantucket, MA – $3,021

Boston, MA – $3,006

Marin/Sonoma, CA – $2,943

Los Angeles, CA – $2,928

Honolulu, HI – $2,745

San Diego, CA – $2,532

Seattle, WA – $2,505

Camp Pendleton, Ca – $2,478

Monterey, CA – $2,472

Juneau, AK – $2,388

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What GI Bill benefits am I eligible to receive?  How to calculate.

Before you can determine BAH for your specific situation, you’ll need to calculate your GI Bill benefit.  Taking care of some of your budgeting issues will allow you to fully concentrate on reaching your academic goals. Having a clear idea of what expenses you have on a monthly basis is a great place to start. Do you know the full extent of what your GI Bill benefits look like? Each person is different. Use this GI Bill calculator to get a better idea of what your GI Bill benefits look like.

Now that we have a sense of your personal picture, here’s the list of…

The 8 Colleges and Universities With the Highest BAH in the US

Due to San Francisco, CA having the highest BAH in the country, the Top 8 BAH Overall list is skewed heavily towards schools located in the region.

NOTE: We will update this article to show schools within the other regions as well.  Please check back for updates. 

San Francisco State University – BAH: $4,149

A lot happens on this bustling urban campus of 30,000 students.  San Francisco State is a student-centered university, providing many support services from child care to disability assistance. The University offers a range of cultural and performing arts events throughout the year, as well as athletic events, lectures and workshops. And once you’re enrolled as a student on campus, be sure to check out SF State’s career planning resources to help you get that great job after graduation. 

Golden Gate University-San FranciscoBAH: $4,149

Golden Gate University programs are catered to the needs of professionals entering or advancing their careers. We offer flexible scheduling as well as personalized academic and career advising to help you craft your own academic experience.

University of San Francisco – BAH: $4,149

At the University of San Francisco, you have access to the ultimate extended classroom: San Francisco with its many opportunities and advantages. Here, our 21st-century mission to fashion a more humane and just world is rooted in Jesuit values, comes alive in our diverse learning community and is broadened by our global orientation. Here you will be challenged to reach higher standards and to use your education to promote justice and serve the common good.  

College of San Mateo – BAH: $4,149

College of San Mateo is located at the northern corridor of Silicon Valley and situated on a 153-acre site in the San Mateo hills that provides a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. Since 1922, CSM has been a gateway to higher education leading to university transfer, career preparation and advancement, and professional and personal development. The College currently serves approximately 10,000 day, evening and weekend students. CSM students reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and have a range of educational goals. To best serve our students, the curriculum offers a wealth of programs that include traditional, semester-length and short courses in addition to distance education.

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(Courtesy: DVIDS)

City College of San Francisco – BAH: $4,149

City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is a public, two-year community college accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Since its founding in 1935, City College has evolved into a multicultural, multi-campus community college that is one of the largest in the country. CCSF offers courses in more than 50 academic programs and over 100 occupational disciplines. There is a full range of credit courses leading to the Associate of Arts and Science degrees, most of which meet the general education requirements for transfer to a four-year colleges and universities.


San Francisco Conservatory of Music – BAH: $4,149 

As a professional school, we are committed to providing an extraordinary education that prepares our graduates to pursue fully engaged lives as citizens of the world. Our core mission is to transform our students: artistically, intellectually, professionally and individually. We believe that inspiring the imagination, cultivating the artist, honing the intellect, and developing the professional are the keys to launching innovative graduates who excel in any field.


Skyline College – BAH: $4,149

Start on the road to a four-year degree. Earn an associates’s degree. Get specialized skills to prepare you for a rewarding career. Develop new job skills. Graduates include journalists, mathematicians, scientists, educators and more. Our students regularly transfer to Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA and other top universities. Others learn the skills they need to make better lives for themselves and their families. The diversity on our campus creates an environment rich in culture and opportunity. Ideas are warmly embraced. Skyline College is located on 111 acres just west of Skyline College Boulevard in San Bruno. It is conveniently available to residents of South San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, San Bruno and Pacifica.


San Francisco Art Institute – BAH: $4,149 

Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is one of the nation̠s oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art.

So, what school is right for you?

You can search for colleges and universities using CollegeRecon, a tool built exclusively for the military community.  You can search schools by different factors important to active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve, veterans and their families.  

A quick search using this tool can create a list of schools with Student Veterans of America chapters, veteran counselors, college credit for military experience, and more. The best part is that only not-for-profit schools will populate your searches. This way you can gain maximum benefit for your GI Bill.


(Featured Image Courtesy of DVIDS)