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In 2016, perhaps the best benefit offered with the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits package is the option to transfer it entirely, or in part, to spouses (wives or husbands), children or other dependents (adopted children, step-children, etc.).

When the Post 9/11 GI Bill program was first launched, it wasn’t possible to transfer your benefits to spouses and dependents, but transferability was introduced on August 1st, 2009, and has been running strong ever since.

If you’re not going to use your GI Bill benefits yourself, you should certainly transfer them to an eligible dependent, because this program offers tens of thousands of dollars for higher education expenses.

How Much Can I Transfer?

If you’re eligible for transfer at all, you’ll be able to give up to 36 months (or whatever is left unused) of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse or dependent children.

Not everyone is eligible to transfer their benefits though, because the military is using this benefit as an incentive to get personnel to agree to slightly longer service contracts.

Who is Eligible to Transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Here are the eligibility requirements you must meet if you’re hoping to transfer your benefits to a spouse or dependent:

  • You must be a member of the United States Armed Forces
  • You must be active duty, or Selected Reserve
  • You must be an Officer, or enlisted personnel
  • You must be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill program

In addition to the above (which are all obvious requirements), you must also satisfy at least one of the following eligibility conditions as well:

  • You must have at least six years of service on the date that you request transferring your benefits, and you must agree to serve an additional four years in the armed forces (active duty or Selected Reserves) from the date of your benefits transfer
  • You must have at least ten years of service on the date that you request transferring your benefits, and you must be precluded by either standard policy (by your Service Branch or the Department of Defense) or statute from committing to four more years of service, but you must agree to serve the maximum amount of time allowed by that policy or statute
  • You must be retirement eligible as of August 1st, 2012, and agree to serve an additional four years of service after that date. You would have been considered eligible for retirement on August 1st, 2012 had you completed 20 years of active federal service, or 20 qualifying years as computed according to section 12732 of title 10 U.S.C.

Please note that transferring GI Bill benefits to spouses or dependents must occur while you’re still a member of the armed forces.

You must make your transfer request, and the transfer must be completed, before you’ve retired, or otherwise left the service.


Who is Eligible to Receive Transferred Benefits?

You can’t give GI Bill benefits to just anyone, only the following people will count as eligible to receive them:

  • Spouses (husbands or wives)
  • One of more of your dependent children
  • Some combination of your spouse and children (you can divide the benefits up between them)

To be eligible to receive transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, your spouse or dependent children must first be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS), and they have to be eligible to receive the benefits at the time your transfer request is processed.


What is Your Part in the Transfer Process?

To transfer GI Bill benefits to your spouse or dependent children, you must use the Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) website while you’re still a member of the armed forces.

To do this, click the link above, then following these steps:

  1. Click the “Education” link
  2. Click the “Transfer of Education Benefits” link

Within this system, you’ll be able to do one of the following tasks:

  • Designate a Transfer of Entitlement Request (also referred to as a “TOE Request”)
  • Modify a Transfer of Entitlement Request
  • Revoke a Transfer of Entitlement Request

Once you’ve left the armed forces, you’ll still be able to change the future effective date of a Transfer of Entitlement request, modify the number of months you want transferred to any particular spouse or dependent child, or revoke entitlement to benefits, but these can only be accomplished by submitting a written request to the Veterans Administration.

What is Your Spouse or Dependent Child’s Part in the Transfer Process?

After your Transfer of Education Benefits request has been approved, your eligible spouse or dependent child will need to apply to use the transferred GI Bill benefits by:

  • Printing out, completing, then mailing VA Form 22-1990e to the nearest VA regional office (find it here)
  • Alternatively, you can complete VA Form 22-1990e online and submit it via the Internet here

Please note that your spouse or dependent child should only complete this form after you’ve request for Transfer of Education Benefits has been approved by the Department of Defense.

If they fill this form out and submit it before your TEB request has been approved, it could lead to a paperwork nightmare.


Additional Eligibility Factors

In addition to the eligibility guidelines listed above, there are rules for extenuating circumstances, including marriages and divorces:

Marriage

Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules state that children designated to receive benefits will remain eligible regardless of whether or not they get married themselves, but keep in mind that you do retain the right to revoke or modify the transfer of your benefits to your child at any time (by writing the VA).

Divorce

Once you’ve been approved for transferring GI Bill benefits to your spouse, that spouse will remain eligible to receive your education benefits even if you two get divorced. However, keep in mind that you can still revoke or modify the transfer at any time, including after you’ve been divorced, or during divorce proceedings.

Rules for Using Transferred Benefits

Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are great for both spouses and dependent children, but the rules governing their actual usage by each type of dependent are different, even though the process of transferring them is identical.

Here are the guidelines for actually using transferred benefits:

Spouses

  • Spouses may start using transferred benefits as soon as their request to use the benefits has been approved
  • Spouses may use the benefit while you’re still in the armed forces, or after you’ve separated from active duty (either by retiring, simply leaving service, or becoming a member of the reserves)
  • Spouses are not eligible to receive the monthly housing allowance (Basic Allowance for Housing) while you remain a member of the armed forces serving on active duty
  • Spouses can use your benefits for up to 15 years after you’ve separated from active duty

Dependent Children

  • Children may only start using transferred benefits after you’ve completed at least 10 years of service in the armed forces
  • Children may use transferred benefits while you’re still in the armed forces, or after you’ve separated from active duty
  • Children may not use transferred benefits until they have completed their high school diploma (or an equivalency certificate like a GED), or until they’re at least 18 years old
  • Children are eligible to receive the monthly housing allowance (Basic Allowance for Housing) even while you remain a member of the armed forces serving on active duty
  • Children can only use your benefits until they reach the age of 26 (meaning they’ll likely only have 8 years to use the benefits, since they can’t start using them until they’re about 18 years old)

For Official Information

To get the rules straight from the horse’s mouth, be sure to visit the VA website, the DOD website and the Transferability Fact Sheet.

If you have additional questions after reviewing all of these materials, please feel free to ask away in our comments section below, or contact your assigned career counselor or personnel center from the table below:

Hybrid Rate Loans
Term (Years)Rate RangeAPRPaymentsStarting Rate
10Low3.99%1st 60 (fixed)4.24%
2nd 60 (variable)3.16%
High5.48%1st 60 (fixed)5.69%
2nd 60 (variable)4.79%

Maximizing Your Military Education Benefits

Find out how to save tens of thousands of dollars in education costs by visiting our Guide to Military Education Benefits, where we’ll teach you how to maximize your benefits with the Yellow Ribbon Program, Military Tuition Assistance, Military Student Loan Forgiveness and other Military Spouse Benefits.

Your service has earned these benefits, so be sure to put them to good use!

Please Help Me Out!

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Thank you for your support, and please be sure to visit again soon!

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Tim's experience battling crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on dealing with excessive student loans and advocates a cautious approach to funding education costs via borrowed money.