How Will the Forever GI Bill Impact Benefits Transferability?
Good news! Now that President Trump has signed the Forever GI Bill, it’s time to celebrate the first expansion of military education benefits in nearly a decade, and perhaps the best part of the new Forever GI Bill is that it will be expanding opportunities for transferring military benefits.
Under the previous rules of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, benefits transferred to a spouse or dependent had to be entirely sacrificed if that person died, but with the Forever GI Bill, it will now be possible to transfer benefits a second time if the original recipient of the benefits passes away.
Also, anyone who receives benefits will be eligible to transfer them if the veteran who originally earned them passes away, meaning the recipient can choose their own new recipient to receive the benefits.
And while these rules will only apply to limited numbers of people, it’s the first time it’s been possible for veterans to transfer their benefits after leaving the military, or posthumously, which is a good step in the right direction for making it easier to give benefits to those who really need them.
GI Bill Transferability Rules
In 2017, perhaps the best benefit offered with the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits package is the option to transfer it either entirely, or in part, to spouses (wives or husbands), children or other dependents (adopted children, step-children, etc.).
Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits can save you tens of thousands of dollars in student loan costs, effectively allowing you to get your college degree entirely for free, so you have a very good reason to pay close attention to this page’s content, and make sure that you fully understand the way the transfer process works.
Unfortunately, I’m still receiving tons of questions from military personnel who did not pay close enough attention to the fine print, and who left the service before transferring their benefits, or who did something else that invalidated their benefits transfer (like transferring benefits, then leaving the service too soon), leaving their dependents on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.
Make sure that you avoid financial disaster by reading this entire post, asking questions about parts that you don’t understand, and verifying that you really do have access to transferability benefits, because failure to do any one of these things could cost your family a great deal of money.
But Before I Go Into Details…
The Post 9/11 GI Bill offers incredible benefits, but it only helps you prevent racking up NEW student loan debt, and offers nothing to help get rid of EXISTING debt.
If you’ve already got student loans, and want help getting rid of them, you may want to review these pages of my site:
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits
- Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Borrowers Defense Against Repayment Discharges
- Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges
- President Trump’s Student Loan Debt Plan
Next, many veterans were attending schools that shut their doors in recent years, and I’m fortunate enough to share good news with you. If your school closed recently, before you could finish your degree program, then you may be eligible for a refund, or at least forgiveness on your loans. Check out my pages on the Closed School Loan Discharge Program, the ITT Tech Student Loan Forgiveness Program and the Corinthian Colleges Student Loan Forgiveness Program for details.
Finally, if you need immediate assistance with your student loans, or if you’ve got questions about your loans, then I recommend calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline. The Helpline experts can review your case and suggest ways to reduce or eliminate your loans quickly. Your first call is free, and you’ll only be charged if you sign up for one of their paid services, so you’ve got nothing to lose other than a few minutes of your time.
If you have your student loans, call: 1-833-600-0101.
How Much of the Post 9/11 GI Bill 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.
And that’s one of the most important parts of the transferability rules – I already mentioned it in the opening paragraphs above, but keep in mind that even if you have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you may not be able to transfer them.
You’ll need to make sure that you sign a long enough service contract after your benefits are transferred in order for them to be retained. If you leave the service too early, then your dependents lose their access to the benefits, and get stuck with a huge bill!
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 Post 9/11 GI Bill 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
Pretty simple, right? But that’s just the first part of the process. You also have to satisfy at least one of the eligibility conditions listed below, 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.
And that too, is a very important point, because I get literally hundreds of comments a year from people asking how to transfer their GI Bill benefits to kids and spouses after they’ve already left the service. It’s simply NOT possible!
Who is Eligible to Receive Transferred Benefits?
Though it sure would be nice, you can’t give your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to just anyone. In fact, only the following people will count as eligible transferees:
- 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.
Meaning, if you put in a transfer request, then divorce your wife before it’s processed, she won’t be able to receive the benefits.
Also meaning, if you put in a transfer request, but your kids haven’t yet signed up for the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System when it comes time to process it, then they won’t be able to receive the benefits either.
There are a lot of pieces to the transfer process that must fall into place at the right time; so be sure to pay close attention to the rules, make sure you handle everything appropriately, or you’ll end up losing out on tens of thousands of dollars in financial assistance.
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:
- Click the “Education” link
- 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.
And, again, you will NOT be able to initiate a new benefits transfer. Transfer requests MUST OCCUR before leaving the service!
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:
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).
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 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
- 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
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:
|Army Active Duty (Officers)||email@example.com|
|Army Active Duty (Enlisted)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Army National Guardemail@example.com|
|Army Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Navy Active Duty (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||866-U-ASK-NPC (866-827-5672)/DSN 882-5672|
|Navy Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||email@example.com|
800-621-8853, Fax: 757-444-7597/7598
|Marine Corps Active Duty (Officers)||Tasha.Lowe@usmc.mil|
|Marine Corps Active Duty (Enlisted)||Michael.A.Peck@usmc.mil|
|Marine Corps Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Air Force Active Duty (Officers & Reserve Personnel)||800-525-0102 or 210-565-5000 or DSN 665-5000|
|Air National Guard||Contact a Retention Office Manager at your unit|
|Air Force Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||email@example.com|
|Coast Guard Active Duty (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Coast Guard Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)||reserveVAeducation@uscg.mil|
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!
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