Transferring Your GI Bill To Your Spouse or Dependents
The Post-9/11 GI Bill allows service members to transfer unused education benefits to immediate family members (spouse and children). This is your guide to understand how to transfer your GI Bill to your spouse and dependents.
What Is The Purpose of the GI Bill Transferability Program?
The goal of the GI Bill transfer program is to keep mid-career military members in uniform. This is why there are minimum service requirements and why the GI Bill transfer program requires military members to incur more service time.
This will not apply to military members who are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but who have already separated or retired from active duty – all transfers must be made while the member is still in military service.
The Montgomery GI Bill is NOT eligible for transfer to dependents.
Do I Qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
In order to be eligible for the post 9/11 GI Bill, you must have:
- at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001
- have less than 16 years of active duty or selected reserve service (effective 7/20/2019)
and one of the following:
- still on active duty
- are an honorably discharged veteran
- were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days
Who Can I Transfer My GI Bill To?
You can transfer your entitlement to your spouse, children, or both.
Family members must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) before you can transfer your GI Bill to them.
If you get divorced, your ex-spouse can still use the transferred benefits; however, you can take away or change the transferred benefits at any time, depending on the divorce settlement.
If your child gets married it doesn’t affect their eligibility to receive the transferred benefits; however, like with your spouse, you can take away or change the transferred benefits at any time.
Can a Veteran Transfer GI Bill to Their Spouse? Can I Transfer the GI Bill After Retirement?
No, the transfer must happen while you’re on active duty. In addition, you must have less than 16 years of active duty or selected reserve service.
Can I Split the GI Bill Benefit Payments?
Yes, you may split the GI Bill Benefit between multiple family members, including yourself. The maximum limit is 36 months of benefit split any way. However, all those that you assign benefits to must be identified and approved prior to you leaving the military.
PRO-TIP: When you sign up for the transfer you should give each family member at least one month of GI Bill benefits.
You cannot add any new dependents after you separate. However once they are “in the system” you can change how much transferred GI Bill funds they receive.
So, if you give each family member one month while you are in, you can always increase or decrease the amount of GI Bill each one gets at a later date.
Who Can Transfer Their GI Bill?
To transfer your GI Bill:
You first must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill
- then you must have at least 6 years of service
- then you must sign a contract for at least 4 more years
- you must be on active duty at the time of transfer designation AND approval
NOTE: There are special rules for people who are:
- close to retirement
- facing early separation
- otherwise prohibited from signing a four-year contract
Check with your personnel office for details.
The most important thing to remember is that you MUST request a transfer while you are on active duty. After you get out you cannot do it.
How To Sign Up For GI Bill Transfer
You can go to the MilConnect website for all the details on GI Bill transfer and to sign up for yourself, you will need a CAC card to sign in to the website.
Using Transferred Benefits
When you transfer your GI Bill benefits to family members you still have control of those benefits, you can reallocate the benefits between family members, or totally remove members. After you get out of the military you CANNOT add any new family members.
However, if your dependent using transferred benefits drops out of school or ends up owing the VA any money, they are the ones legally responsible for any debt to the VA.
When you transfer your GI Bill to a family member they are subject to the following rules:
- May start to use the benefit immediately
- May use the benefit while you remain in the Armed Forces or after separation from active duty
- Is not eligible for the monthly housing allowance or books and supplies stipend while the member is serving on active duty
- Is eligible for the monthly housing allowance (similar to BAH – see below) after you’ve separated from the military
- Can use the benefit for up to 15 years after your separation from active duty
- May start to use the benefit only after you have completed at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces
- Can use the benefit while you remain in the Armed Forces or after separation from active duty
- May not use the benefit until he/she has attained a secondary school diploma (or equivalency certificate), or reached 18 years of age
- Is entitled to the monthly housing allowance (similar to BAH – see below) and books and supplies stipend even while you’re on active duty
- Is not subject to the 15-year expiration date, but may not use the benefit after reaching 26 years of age
What Can Family Members Use Transferred Benefits for?
Family members can use their transferred benefits on almost all the programs in military friendly colleges or institutions that a veteran can. These include:
- College degree programs such as Associate Degree, Bachelor Degree and advanced degree programs. This can be at public schools, private schools, online schools, or foreign schools.
- Vocational/Technical Training including non-college degree programs. This includes programs such as dental hygienist, computer networking, small engine repair, etc.
- On-the-Job/Apprenticeship Training. This is a type of training where the person is employed and training at the same time. The trainee gets a GI Bill payment as well as a salary. Examples include union plumber, police officer, gunsmith, journeyman welder, etc.
- Licensing & Certification Reimbursement. This includes such things as real estate license, PMP certification, etc.
- National Testing Programs such as SAT, CLEP, AP, etc
- Flight Training. The trainee must have a private pilot’s license and a current medical certification. The training usually is to get a greater certification such as multi-engine, or specific aircraft certifications.
How Does the Payment Work?
GI Bill transferees get the same payment as active duty members with a few notable exceptions.
If the member is on active duty, the spouse cannot get a housing allowance or the book stipend, even if they are divorced from the active duty member.
Other than that, dependents get the same benefit as a veteran using the Post-9/11 GI Bill would including a monthly housing allowance.
Do Spouses Get BAH with GI Bill? What BAH Do You Get With the GI Bill?
If you are the recipient of transferred GI Bill Benefits and your service member is a veteran, then the monthly housing allowance is the same as the BAH for an E-5 with dependents. There is no Post 911 GI Bill BAH if the service member is active duty.
What is a Yellow Ribbon School? Can Spouses or Dependents Use Yellow Ribbon Funds?
The Yellow Ribbon Program is a service jointly offered by the VA and participating schools to eligible military veterans and their designated transferees (spouses and dependents) in some cases. The program provides tuition assistance for education at approved institutions, including private colleges, universities, trade schools, religious institutions, and public institutions.
h/t featured photo by Staff Sgt. Marleah Cabano
NEXT STEP: How To Get Your Post-911 GI Bill Benefits
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.