It has been just under a year since the “Forever GI Bill” was signed into law, but many service members are discovering forever isn’t quite as long as they thought.
Beginning in 2019, a service member’s privilege to transfer their GI Bill to their dependents will be restricted and those who serve longer are being impacted by the restrictions.
One of the best benefits of serving our great country is the ability to receive the GI Bill which covers most, if not all, of a college degree. Another advantage is the ability to transfer this benefit to dependent children or spouses.
I have spent the summer visiting college campuses with my rising high school senior. Two things I have discovered: making life decisions at 17 years old is a lot of pressure and the cost of a four-year degree can run upwards to $40,000 and don’t get me started on residency requirements.
As a military family do we ever live someplace long enough to be considered a resident?
The GI Bill Restriction May Impact Your Plans for Paying for College
What does the new GI Bill restriction mean for your military family? To transfer the GI Bill to dependents, a service member must serve at least six years and commit to an additional four years.
The change restricts service members who have served 16 years or more from transferring their GI Bill. Luckily for my family, my husband transferred his GI Bill to our children about two weeks before the new restrictions were announced.
But it makes me wonder why the change? These restrictions apply only to career military which begs the question, will this restriction discourage service members from making longer commitments to their country in the future?
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Some may argue the reason for the change is to encourage senior service members to use their GI Bill benefits to further their education and ensure a smooth transition into the civilian workforce. I would agree, having an education makes the transition easier, however, where does this leave service members who have earned a degree prior to or while in service? They don’t need the GI Bill and can’t transfer it to a dependent, which means the benefit would not be utilized.
The Tuition Assistance Program May Be a Better Option for Service Members
Service members can transfer their GI Bill to dependents and still earn a degree while on active duty. The Tuition Assistance Program is available to active duty members in all branches, which covers education expenses, leaving the GI Bill available to their dependents.
Tuition Assistance covers expenses for vocational/technical schools, undergrad degrees, graduate programs, independent study and distance learning programs. In order to use the TA Program, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.
The TA Program will cover 100% of college expenses not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour. There is a $4,500 cap per government fiscal year which is October to September.
To access the TA program visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch:
Transfer Your GI Bill Before July 2019
The GI Bill restriction does not go into effect until July 19, 2019, so if you are approaching 16 years of service or more and want to transfer your GI Bill now is the time.
The good news is, if you complete the transfer now, you can make changes later. If you have additional children or want to change how the bill is divided among your dependents this can be done at a later date as long as the transfer takes place prior to July 2019.
If you are interested in transferring your GI Bill to your dependents log onto DMDC milConnect, find the “I want to” section and select “Transfer my education benefits.”
If you are not eligible for the GI Bill transfer or have already used the benefit there are additional scholarship options available to military dependents and yourself. Here is a list of more than 50 scholarships which are available to the military community.
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Also visit your local education center and veteran affairs office at your university of choice for additional scholarship resources and assistance.