By Debbie Gregory.
When it comes to paying for education for military without the Post 9/11 GI Bill, footing the bill for college isn’t easy. Those who qualify can transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse or children. There are, however, a few things you need to know to successfully transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit.
The transfer rule was designed so career military members, who might already have the education they need, can pass them on to one or more family members. But not everyone who has the Post 9/11 GI Bill is qualified to transfer those benefits. You must have at least six years of service by the day you elect to transfer, with an agreement to obligate another four years. Additionally, you must have a minimum of ten years of active duty and selected reserve time, separately or combined. You aren’t allowed by service policies, such as high-year tenure, to obligate for another four years, but agree to serve the maximum remaining time allowed. Even if you are retirement eligible, you must obligate the additional four years or the max remaining time.
If you are married and/or have multiple children, you are allowed to split the benefit and give a portion to any combination of spouse and children. With that said, the family member must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, known as DEERS, and be fully eligible for military dependent benefits at the time of the GI Bill transfer.
You can transfer or modify how much of the benefit you give, or even revoke the transfer. This covers an ex-spouse if you get divorced, or married children, with the caveat that each dependent must have at least one month of benefits at the time you set up the transfer. You can always shift the benefit around later, even after you are discharged. But once you leave the service, you can’t qualify anyone new.
Your spouse is able to use the benefit immediately upon your transfer, once you separate, or when you retire, but within 15 years. If you have designated your child, he or she can only start using the benefits once you have put in at least 10-years of service.
Your dependent child must have their high-school diploma, or be 18 years old. While there’s no 15-year deadline, they must use it before they reach the age of 26.
You can only apply to transfer benefits while on active duty, so if you are considering this, start as soon as you are eligible. You’ll probably need to get some help with this process, so tap in on the resources available from your command career counselor or your personnel support detachment.
Because there’s obligated service required, that obligation must be made and documented in your record before you can finalize your benefit. You should apply for the transfer within 30 days of re-enlistment or extension. Sailors can work with the Navy Personnel Command’s G.I. Bill office to hold their transfer request until their obligated service can be verified in their electronic records.
Remember to check your application status. Check the milConnect web page routinely until the ‘Submitted’ status changes to either “Request approved” or “Request rejected.” If the request has been rejected, take corrective steps and resubmit the request.
The transfer is not complete until the status has changed to approved. Don’t let a small detail cause the application to be disapproved.
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Military Connection: Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits: By Debbie Gregory