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College Benefits for Military Dependents

Transferring GI Bill Benefits to a Spouse or Children

A GI Bill transfer is transfer of ownership of GI Bill education benefits from a servicemember to another eligible family member. Read on to learn about qualification requirements and the actual process of transferring GI Bill benefits.

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Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer
Eligibility Rules

The following active service members may be eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits:

  • Current active duty members having served at least six years

  • Select Reservists having served at least six years and having at least minimal Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility (40% or more earned from deployments)

All unused 36 months, or any remaining portion, may be transferred to an eligible individual or multiple individuals.

In addition, the servicemember must agree to serve an additional four years at the time of the transfer request. A request must be made and approved while the service member is still serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. For qualified servicemembers, a good rule of thumb is to make their transfer requests at least one year out from separation or retirement. This ensures the transfers will be approved before getting out.

It is also a good idea to request a transfer of at least one month of entitlement for each eligible family member while still serving. Doing this increases flexibility as far as moving benefits around after getting out.

Alternately, if precluded from extending a service obligation due to service branch or statute limitations, the serving member must have at least ten years of service at the time of the transfer request(s).

Who Can GI Bill Benefits be Transferred to?

  • Recipients of a GI Bill transfer of benefits are limited to an eligible spouse or dependent child(ren) of the currently serving military member who meet eligibility requirements for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

  • Ex-spouses and children no longer defined as dependent according to the IRS tax stipulations are not considered eligible recipients and would not be approved for a transfer of benefits.

Transfer and Use of Benefit Rules for the Recipient

The rules for a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer are different depending on who is receiving the benefits.

A spouse can start using their entitlement immediately upon receiving approval and up to the 15th year of the servicemember’s last date of separation or discharge. In the case of a Selected Reservists, the timeline is 15 years from their last date of separation from an active duty tour of at least 90 days or more. Any remaining unused eligibility will be lost unless the sponsor (i.e. the veteran) of the benefit revokes it from the spouse and either keeps it for their own use or reallocates it to a dependent family member.

While there is not a specified age when a request for transfer of benefits can be made to an eligible dependent child, the child cannot begin using their transferred eligibility until after receiving a high school diploma or upon reaching their 18th birthday. The sponsor making the transfer must also have served for at least 10 years. Eligibility must be used no later than the child’s 26th birthday or it will be lost too, unless the remaining eligibility is revoked and reallocated by the sponsor.

Note: Children born after the servicemember is out of the military are not eligible to receive a transfer of benefits as the initial transfer must be made while the servicemember is still serving.

How to Transfer GI Bill Benefits to a Qualifying Family Member

Before a transfer of benefits request can be submitted, the eligible recipient must be enrolled in DEERS (Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System). Most family members are already enrolled, but if not, they must apply and already be in the DEERS database at the time of the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits request.

An easy way to tell which family members are enrolled in DEERS is to log into the milConnect website with a Common Access Card, DoD Self-Service Logon or myPay credentials.

  • Step 1

    Once logged in, click on the Transfer My Education Benefits from the I Want To … menu and follow the prompts.

  • Step 2

    When the TEB portlet page displays, family members enrolled in DEERS will be shown in the List of Family Members.

  • Step 3

    Those not enrolled in DEERS will have the word “ineligible” to the right of the Relation column.

To make a transfer request from that same website:

  • Step 1

    Find the family member listed.

  • Step 2

    Click on the Months drop-down menu and select the number of months to transfer.

  • Step 3

    Repeat this process for each family member destined to receive a GI Bill transfer of benefits.

  • Step 4

    Select the Post 9/11 GI Bill from Select the educational program from which to transfer benefits.

  • Step 5

    Read each statement in the Transferability of Education Benefits Acknowledgement section and select all the boxes once all statements are understood.

  • Step 6

    Click on the Submit Request button.

  • Step 7

    Once the transfer request submission is complete, a confirmation message will display.

  • Step 8

    The Status block should now show Submitted. The Status Date will be blank until the request is approved.

Using the Transferred GI Benefit
  • The sponsor must keep checking back at the Transfer of Benefits section of the milConnect website and look for the Status block to change to Request Approved and an approval date to populate the Status Date block.

  • Before the family member can use the transferred benefits, they must first request a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) by calling the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-GIBILL1, or downloading and filling out VA Form 22-1990E and sending it in to the Regional VA Office servicing the sponsor’s region, or completing the request online.

  • When enrolling in school as a GI Bill student, a copy of the COE must be turned in at the time of registering for classes.

Other Factors Affecting Transfer Benefits

There are several other factors that can impact either the transfer or use of benefits including:

  • Change of marital status

  • Reallocation of benefits

  • Conditions at the time of use

  • A dependent child marrying after receiving a transfer of benefits can still use their benefits provided they are still under the age of 26.

  • A spouse having transferred benefits whose marriage to the sponsor ends in divorce retains the right to use the transferred benefit.

NOTE: In both instances, the sponsor retains the right to revoke and either keep the benefits or reallocate to another eligible family member already having received a transfer of benefits.

  • An initial GI Bill transfer of benefits and a revoke-and-reallocation are not the same.

  • An initial transfer is done while the sponsor is still serving; a revoke-and-reallocation is done after the sponsor is no longer serving. As suggested earlier, it is wise to make a transfer request of at least one month of benefit to each eligible family member while still serving. If each eligible family member has some eligibility, the sponsor has more flexibility in revoking-and-reallocating benefits once out of the military.

NOTE: The combined number of months of benefits retained by the sponsor and those transferred to a spouse, family members, or a combination thereof, cannot exceed 36 months.

If a family member never had transferred benefits, or had benefits but used them up, they are still eligible to receive reallocated additional benefits either from the sponsor’s retained benefits or those revoked-and-reallocated from other family members.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill payment structure is unique from any other GI Bill in that it pays in three different ways:

  • Tuition – The VA pays the school directly once per semester up to 100% of the tuition for public schools and up to $22,805.34 per year at private and foreign schools.

  • Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) – This amount is sent to the student and is based on the zip code of the school, percentage level of GI Bill coverage and the number of credits taken.

  • Book Stipend – The VA pays the student once per semester, up to $1,000 per academic year, at the rate of $41.67 per credit at a degree-producing school. The yearly cap is usually enough for two 12-credit semesters. Students in non-degree programs receive up to $83 per month instead of the per-credit amount – enough to cover one year of school.

In the case of dependents using their transferred benefits, the MHA payment varies depending on certain conditions at the time of use by both the sponsor and recipient.

For example, if a spouse uses transferred benefits while the sponsor is still serving, s/he does not get the MHA, but does get their tuition paid and can receive the book stipend. But, if the spouse uses transferred benefits after the member is no longer serving, then s/he receives the MHA. On the other hand, dependent members receive the MHA (and get their tuition paid and receive the book stipend) even if they live at home rent free regardless if the sponsor is still serving.

Education Opportunities Covered by Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Benefits

A family member having a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits can use them for most of the same programs covered by other GI Bills. Training must be conducted at a VA-approved education facility but the course of study can be either at a degree-producing school (including graduate) or a non-degree facility, including vocational, technical, flight, on-the-job and apprenticeships.

A GI Bill transfer of benefits can also be used as reimbursement for the cost of certain license, certification or certificate tests, along with paying for training. Also, certain college entrance tests are covered, like the GMAT.

Some military members are fortunate enough to have two GI Bills – the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) that they paid for, and the Post 9/11 GI Bill which is free for serving after September 10, 2001. However, when it comes to a transfer of benefits, only the later can be given to an eligible family member.

But because of this rule of transfer, a servicemember having both GI Bills must relinquish ownership of the MGIB-AD before making a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits request. If not making a transfer, the servicemember has a choice of using all 36 months of their MGIB-AD, switching GI Bills and using an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, or switching right away to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and getting only the remaining unused MGIB months of eligibility and not the additional 12 months.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, more commonly known as the Forever GI Bill, influences the MHA payment. Currently, the MHA in part is based on the zip code of the school, but in the case of attending a satellite school, it is based on the location of the main campus.

That amount could be higher or lower than the location of the satellite school. So, after August 1, 2018, students using transferred benefits for the first time may receive more or less than other students who are already using their transferred benefits before that implementation date.

Another MHA change for students using their transferred benefits for the first time after January 1, 2018 is their MHA payment will be based on the DoD’s reduced basic housing allowance, instead of the DoD previous BAH rate. This can result in a reduction of about $16 per month on average. Students already receiving MHA before that date will not see a change.

Another upcoming change, as far as transferring benefits, is sponsor’s ability to reallocate unused benefits if the recipient dies before using the benefit. If the sponsor dies, a dependent with unused transfer of benefits can reallocate them to another eligible family member. Both options were not possible before this update. In both cases, the date of death must be on or after August 1, 2009. In the case of a dependent transfer of benefits to another dependent, that transfer of entitlement can start being used after August 1, 2018.

Additional Resources

  • Changes to Forever GI Bill

    Managed by the Department of Veteran Affairs, this is an up-to-date resource on upcoming changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill including a section on the transfer of benefits.

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB)

    A downloadable PDF that has a very detailed section on the process of transferring benefits. It breaks the process down into what must be done in each step.

  • Transferring the GI Bill: Spouses and Dependents

    This is an informational guide from Drexel University on the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transfer of benefits. It can be downloaded as a PDF, and posted as an infographic.

  • Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits

    This information comes from the Vets.gov website and includes a more detailed use of benefits. It includes contact information on each branch of service including the National Guard, Reserves, NOAA and PHS services.