How to Transfer Forever GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill Benefits

If you’re looking to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent, like your children, or your spouse, then you’ve come to the right place.

While it can be difficult to navigate the DOD and VA guidelines for benefit transfers, I’ve been tracking this process for nearly a decade, and this page will explain exactly what you need to do, and when, in order to successfully move your benefits to someone else.

The first thing to consider is that you should initiate your benefit transfer as soon as possible, because most Service Branches want it to be completed before you separate from them, so don’t wait until the last minute, and definitely don’t ignore the value of these benefits.

Remember, you’ve earned your Military Education Benefits via service, and it’s a shame to let them go to waste. Review the content below to find out how you can offer your benefits to someone else, and save them a boat load of money on higher education expenses.



GI Bill Transferability Rules

Perhaps the best benefit offered by the Forever GI Bill or the Post 9/11 GI Bill 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.).

Since these benefits can save your dependents tens of thousands of dollars in student loan costs, effectively allowing them to get a college degree entirely for free, you have a very good reason to pay close attention to this page’s content, and to 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 before the transfer had been finalized), leaving their dependents on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in student loans that they could have avoided!

Make sure that you avoid financial disaster by reading this entire post, asking questions about parts of the transfer process 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 Cover Transferability in Detail…

Let me first offer you one piece of important advice – even if your GI Bill benefits transfers all work out perfectly according to plan, it’s highly likely that your dependents will still run into some kind of student loan trouble, because that’s happening with basically everyone, including military dependents that are supposed to have “full” coverage for all tuition and fees.

What can you do to protect yourself of your loved ones from falling into the student loan debt trap, racking up so much that you can hardly afford rent, groceries and other bills?

If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.

I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.

For help with FEDERAL Student Loans: Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.

For help with PRIVATE Student Loans: Call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe (typically about 40% your total outstanding balance), then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old deb, repair your credit and start making much lower monthly payments. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans, so please do not call them if you only have Federal loans.

If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!


How Much of My GI Bill Benefits 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 Forever GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery 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 GI Bill benefits available, 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 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.

Make Sure to Transfer BEFORE Leaving Service!

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 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.



How Do You Initiate the Transfer of GI Bill Beneifts?

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

Remember, 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 Does Your Spouse or Dependent Child Need to Do to Receive Transferred Benefits?

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.

How Have Benefit Transfers Changed with the Forever GI Bill?

The Forever GI Bill introduced the first improvements to military education benefits in nearly a decade, and perhaps the best part of the new Forever GI Bill benefits package was the way that it updated guidelines and rules 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 is now be possible to transfer benefits a second time if the original recipient of the benefits passes away.

Also, anyone who receives benefits is now 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 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.


Additional Eligibility Factors

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

Marriage

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.

What are the Rules for Using Transferred Benefits

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)

Where Can I Access the Official VA Details on Benefits Transfers?

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:

Service BranchContact
PHSOCCOHelpdesk@hhs.gov
240-453-6130
Army Active Duty (Officers)usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.tagd-post-911-gi-bill@mail.mil
Army Active Duty (Enlisted)usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.tagd-post-911-gi-bill@mail.mil
Army National Guardng.robinson.ngb-arng-pec.mbx.arng-hrm-o-gi-bill-ch33@mail.mil
Army Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.tagd-post-911-gi-bill@mail.mil
Navy Active Duty (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)866-U-ASK-NPC (866-827-5672)/DSN 882-5672
Navy Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)cnrfc_post911gibill@navy.mil

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)smb_manpower.cmt@usmc.mil
Air Force Active Duty (Officers & Reserve Personnel)800-525-0102 or 210-565-5000 or DSN 665-5000
Air National GuardContact a Retention Office Manager at your unit
Air Force Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)julia.williamson@us.af.mil
Coast Guard Active Duty (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)reidus.stokes@uscg.mil
Coast Guard Reserve (Officers & Enlisted Personnel)reserveVAeducation@uscg.mil
NOAAGregory.Raymond@noaa.gov
301-713-7728

How Can I Ensure I Get Maximum Value from My 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!



Where Can I Go for Other Questions About Student Loan Debt

If you or your dependents already have student loan debt, and want help getting rid of it, then you’ll want to look at the Guides I’ve developed to help people eliminate their student loans.

To Get Help with Federal Student Loans, please visit my Guides on:

And if you need Help with Private Student Loans, then you’ll want to take a look at my Guides on:

  • Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
  • Private Student Loan Consolidation Options
  • Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges
  • Private Student Loan Default Help
  • These Guides will teach you everything you need to know about dealing with your student debt, walking you through each part of the process and explaining how to maximize your chances of getting out of debt quickly and affordably.

    If you still have questions about any part of the student loan process, please do feel free to post them in the Comments section below.

    I review Comments on a daily basis, and will do my best to get you an answer as quickly as possible!


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    Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.

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    Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.