A benefit for military service members is the GI Bill. While many take advantage of the great opportunity to go to college with this financial support, others choose to pass it on to their spouse or children.
This option wasn’t always available and might not remain so, which makes now a great time to decide if transferring your GI Bill is the right move for your family.
What is the GI Bill?
The GI Bill is a government program that helps service members meet the financial needs of continuing their education once they leave the military. It was initially only available to the service members who met certain qualifications. Over the years the rules and benefits have changed.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is the latest form of the bill. It provides money for approved educational programs for up to 36 months of school for service members, which must be used within 15 years after leaving active duty.
In 2009, a law was passed to allow service members to transfer these benefits to their spouses, children or both.
Who is eligible?
Any service member that completed 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, that is on active duty, or that was honorably discharged or discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days is eligible.
What is covered?
Monetary funds are available to cover up to 36 months of educational courses for approved programs that include higher education, vocational training and now flight school for example. Other financial support may be provided to cover a monthly housing allowance, annual books and supplies and one-time rural benefits.
Am I eligible to transfer my GI Bill?
In order to transfer your GI Bill, service members must meet certain requirements. Anyone on active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted, who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and also meets these requirements may transfer benefits:
- Has at least 6 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve 4 additional years in the Armed Forces from the date of election.
- Has at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by service branch or DoD) or statute from committing to 4 additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
- Transfer requests are submitted and approved while the member is in the Armed Forces.
Why transfer your GI Bill now?
If you, as the service member, do not have any intention of using the entire 36 months of educational benefits, you might want to consider transferring some or all of the benefit to family members. The government started this program as a way of helping service members transition out of the military as well as an incentive to join the military. You have earned these benefits, so don’t let them go unused.
Last year Congress discussed changing the GI Bill benefit to make it more difficult to transfer to family members. They talked about increasing the number of years the service member must commit to in order to transfer the benefit. They also discussed limiting the scope of the benefit.
No legislation on this has been brought up, but the possibility is there. Why leave it to chance if you don’t have to?
How do I transfer my GI Bill?
Active duty service members may designate, modify and revoke a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) request on the Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) website.
After approval, there is one more form to turn in before a family member can use these benefits. Family members are required to apply to use the transferred benefits by submitting a VA Form 22-1990e with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Is there anything else I need to know about transferring the GI Bill to my spouse or children?
Family members enrolled in DEERS that are eligible for benefits at the time of transfer are able to use the benefits.
Spouses are able to use the benefits at the time of transfer, but children must wait until the service member has completed at least 10 years of service. The child or spouse can use it while their sponsor is actively serving or after they leave the military.
Military children cannot use the transferred GI Bill until they finish high school, or an equivalent, or turn 18 years old. The child is entitled to the monthly housing allowance even while their sponsor is on active duty, but the spouse is not. A spouse has 15 years to use the benefits once the service member separates from active duty, but the child does not have this restriction. They do however age out of eligibility at 26 years old.
Talk to your spouse and children to see if transferring your GI Bill benefits to one or all of them is the right decision for your family. Don’t wait until politicians change, take away, or make receiving these benefits harder.
Has your service member transferred his or her Post-9/11 GI Bill to you or your children?