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How to Transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits to a Spouse or Dependent

Post 9/11 GI Bill

Transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to a family member may be one of the most popular military benefits available to an active duty service member and those in the Selected Reserve.

But you are not allowed to simply fill out a form and authorize your GI Bill education benefits to be transferred to your spouse or college-age child. The Department of Defense requires a new active duty service commitment in order for you to be approved to transfer your benefit.

Can I Transfer My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

The first thing to know about transferring your GI Bill benefit is that it is NOT up to the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve or deny your request – the Department of Defense ultimately sets the rules and decides who is allowed to transfer GI Bill benefits.

You may be able to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits if you’re on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and you meet all requirements below:

  • Complete 6 years or more of qualifying service on the date your request is approved
  • Agree to a 4-year service commitment as a condition of approval
  • The person you are transferring your benefits to is enrolled in DEERS

If your spouse or dependent is not in DEERS you will have to accomplish this before you can proceed.

Benefits for Dependents and Spouses with a Transferred GI Bill

Your spouse or dependent child may qualify for up to 36 months of benefits that may include:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies

How to Transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits

The most important thing to know about transferring your GI Bill benefits to a dependent or spouse is that you must apply and be approved for the transfer while you are still serving. Once you retire or separate from military service, you cannot apply for a transfer.

To apply while you are still serving, you will apply through the Department of Defense milConnect portal, and NOT through the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot accept, process, or approve your transfer request.

To begin,

  1. Go to milConnect
  2. Select Transfer My Education Benefits. You will need a DS Logon to do this.
  3. You will apply online for the transfer approval
  4. Obtain the “retainability” needed to qualify (you agree to reenlist or to extend a commission for another 4 years)
  5. Await DoD approval

You will need to select a family member (you can agree to split the benefit among multiple immediate family members in any combination but 36 months is the limit for the entire benefit regardless of how many use it.) from the list provided (as reflected in DEERS) and for each eligible family member enter the number of months to transfer.

You may be prompted to enter a transfer end date. Doing so will cause the transferred benefit to end on that date for that person. According to the VA official site, “we recommend you leave the End Date blank as the system will provide the latest legal end date allowed.” Be advised, if you enter an end date, the VA cannot grant extensions beyond that date.

You will also be prompted to select the benefit you are transferring, acknowledge the program’s rules, and submit the request to the DoD. Once you have been approved for the transfer, your dependents or spouse may begin the application process for the GI Bill benefit itself.

Once You Have Applied to Transfer Your GI Bill

While you are still waiting for approval of the transfer, you can track your request through milConnect. If you are approved, the system will update to reflect “Transfer Approved” or “Transfer Request Approved” and the approval date.

Once you get approved status your milConnect account will also reflect indicators showing how far into your military service commitment (required to transfer the GI Bill) you have come so far, according to VA.gov:

  • A green message means you have fulfilled your service obligation.
  • A yellow message means you must stay in the Service until your obligation end date or risk losing eligibility to transfer education benefits.
  • Guard and Selected Reserve members must maintain an uninterrupted Selected Reserve status during the entire obligatory service time.
  • A red message means you are at risk of failing or have failed to complete your service commitment. This is typically because your separation date is before your ”obligation end date”.

After the Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer Is Approved

Once the transfer is approved and the GI Bill application has been submitted and approved, there are rules dictating how the benefits can be used and when.

Rules for Military Spouses

For spouses, the GI Bill can be accessed immediately, and:

    • The spouse can use the benefit while the service member is still on active duty or after separating from service.
    • The spouse can use the benefit for up to 15 years after the servicemember retires or separates.
    • Be aware you will not qualify for the monthly housing allowance while on active duty

Rules for Dependent Children

The rules for dependent children include the following:

    • School-age dependents can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill only after the servicemember completes 10 years of service or more.
    • The benefit is available while the servicemember is on active duty or after retirement/separation.
    • The benefit cannot be used until the student has earned a high school diploma (or equivalency certificate), or has turned 18 years old.
    • Dependent children may qualify for the monthly housing allowance even when the servicemember is still on active duty
    • The dependent must use the benefit before turning 26 years old.

Dependents can still use their transferred GI Bill benefits even if they get married, or you and your spouse get a divorce. Service members and Veterans can change certain GI Bill transfer options at any time.

Apply For Transferred GI Bill Benefits

When you get your approval back from the Department of Defense your family members may apply for the GI Bill. It can be done online at the VA official site or you can apply by mail. Fill out VA Form 22-1990E and mail it to your nearest VA regional office.