U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - GI Bill BenefitsThe release of the Post 9/11 GI Bill3 provided military personnel with access to better educational benefits than they previously received. Innovative features in the bill included a housing allowance paid directly to students, as well as allowing service members the ability, and option, to transfer GI Bill benefits to their dependents. The option to set aside GI Bill education benefits for a spouse or children was likely the single most popular option of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Unlike the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) that proceeded it, with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, military service members were no longer required to buy into the program. Benefits were earned without the need to declare or opt-in to the program, and they were earned with shorter commitment times. This made the Post 9/11 GI Bill available to far more service members.

Transfer GI Bill Benefits: The Rules

But there are certain rules and criteria service members must adhere to in order to transfer benefits to dependents – starting with at least six years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or select reserve) on the date of approval. Each service member must also agree to serve four additional years following the date of selection, to reach a total of 10 years.

Alternatively, a service member can serve at least 10 years (active duty and/or select reserve) on the date of approval, without the need to commit to four more years. Still, he/she must agree to serve for the maximum time allowed. For example, someone who has served more than 10 years but will reach service limitations in say, two years, cannot serve an extra four years anyway.

Requests to transfer GI Bill benefits (up to 36 months of them from the Post 9/11 GI Bill) are only valid while a service member is in the Armed Forces, and not permitted at all after separation from service occurs. And benefits can transfer to a spouse, child(ren) or any combination of the two, as long as these dependents are enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and eligible for benefits.

After a service member meets the requirements, and all dependents are verified in DEERS, he/she can use the Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB)1 MilConnect website to designate, modify and even revoke Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) requests.

Once the service member is registered on the website, the TEB page displays all eligible beneficiaries currently listed in DEERS, with a drop-down menu allowing the service member to choose the allotment (listed in months up to 36 maximum) of transfer eligibility for each beneficiary.

Tip: Make sure to enter at least one month in the drop-down list for every dependent you may consider transferring benefits to in the future. This is not a requirement, but will help ensure each dependent is accepted in the TEB application. Once the TOE is approved, the allotments can be shifted at any time through the MilConnect portal, as needs change. You can always remove any dependent’s allotment and replace it later as long as you don’t exhaust the allotment (so definitely leave at least one month remaining). However, if a dependent is not accepted originally, they will not be eligible for allocated benefits in the future.

Once allocated, benefits can be reallocated between the service member and dependents as many times as needed. Dependents (including spouses) can also be revoked at any time, for whatever reason, with a written request from the service member to the VA.

Benefits can be used up to 15 years after the service member’s last day of active duty. This should allow enough time for nearly all dependent children with transferred benefits to reach college age before eligibility expires. This also means the clock does not start on benefits expiring if some of the allocation is used by the service member or spouse before the service member separates from the military.

With the rising cost of college tuition, the Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefit is becoming increasingly important to service members and their families. A service member with two children could potentially cover these dependents’ first two years of college with the bill’s benefits, or perhaps even all four years of school for one child.

And with the added benefit of tuition assistance for active duty and select reserve, a service member can often earn their college degree without sacrificing Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for his/her children or spouse. So, some careful planning could maximize these education benefits for the entire family!

For more information on transferring benefits to dependents, visit the VA benefits website2, or contact your school’s veteran liaison for information on using transferred benefits.

Brandon Swenson

About Brandon Swenson

Brandon Swenson, Senior Communications Specialist, is on Grantham's editorial board. He understands the benefits of of educationally-oriented programs such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill having earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City toward the end of his nearly two decades of service in the United States Marine Corp.  

 

1 https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/

2 http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_transfer.asp

3 http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp

 

 

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