How to Transfer GI BILL Benefits

One of the most popular benefits of military service is the Post 911 GI Bill. The Bill allows members of the military to transfer GI benefits to their families. The spouse and children could receive excellent education benefits while the military personnel serve the country. It was a good plan until 2019; it became a huge problem to transfer GI Bill benefits to family members. 

The problem began when the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that any service personnel who served in the military for more than 16 years could no longer transfer GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children. 

Long-serving members and reservists had less than two months to transfer their GI Bill benefits before July 12, 2019. Failure to do so meant losing their GI Bill benefits. Of course, Military family and lawmakers criticized the GI Bill transfer changes. For many, it was an insult for long-serving military officers and reservists. 

What took place? What was behind the policy? Before we explain transferring of GI Bill benefits, let’s find out what happened to the GI Bill transfer changes. And how it concerns you. 

This page will explain the primary requirements of transferring GI Bill benefits and share crucial information you need to know. Let’s begin. 

GI Bill Transfer Changes: What You Should Know

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced the new GI Bill transfer changes. The policy focused on when you could transfer your benefits to your family members (dependents). Starting from July 12, 2018, you had a whole year to transfer your benefits. Failure to do so would prevent you from moving your GI Bill benefits to your family members in the future. 

The change was for those who had served for at least 16 years or more in active duty or Selected Reserve service. Additionally, you needed to have at least six years of active service before you could apply to transfer GI Bill benefits. Consequently, after July 2019, you could only move your benefits between six and 16 years of military service. However, the decision to implement this policy was delayed until January 12, 2020. 

According to the US Department of Defense, the change affected service personnel in uniformed services like US Coast Guard, commissioned personnel of the National Oceanic, Atmospheric Administration, and US Public Health Service. 

Now you might be wondering why the GI Bill transfer changes. Let’s take a look at the DoD’s perspective to give you a clearer understanding.

Transferring GI Bill Benefits Was A Retention And Cost Issue

When you transfer GI Bill benefits, there is a four-year active duty obligation, and you must be able to be retained. The DoD needs you to spend more time in military service to get the benefits. But if you are planning on staying till retirement, then they will try to limit the cost. Let’s break down the statement. 

As per the policy, if you don’t serve for at least six years, you are not eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits. So they retain you so that they can get more military time from you. Also, if you’ve served for more than 16 years, there’s a high chance that you will serve until the retirement mark of 20 years—serving additional fours until retirement won’t be a big problem for you. 

Here’s the cost-saving part. 

If the Defense Department is able to decrease transfer benefits to family members, only you can access the benefit. It’s reasonable cost-control and here’s why: 

A recent study has shown that tuition continues to outpace inflation. When you transfer GI Bill benefit to your seven-year-old kid, there’s a much higher payout than if you used the benefit yourself. The value of the GI Bill benefits totals about tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees, housing stipends, and related education costs. Moreover, there is a high chance that most service members won’t even use the benefit. So the whole idea may be retention and cost. 

But you don’t need to worry about the GI Bill transfer changes because the DoD reverted the policy. 

Congress Canceled The Plan To Limit Transfer of GI Bill Benefits

The GI Bill transfer changes were supposed to take effect on January 12, 2020. But according to Star and Stripes, a US military independent news source, the Defense Department reversed the decision. The congress went against the DoD plan to eliminate service members above 16 years of active duty from transferring GI Benefits to their spouse and children. 

Now, service members with 16 years of active duty and more will still be able to transfer their GI Bill education benefits to their family members. However, they still have to commit a minimum of six years in the service before they can transfer their benefits to their dependents. According to Stars and Stripes, the cancellation of the policy applies to all service branches. 

A Quick Recap Of GI Bill Transfer Changes

Before we talk about how to transfer GI Bill Benefits to your children and spouse, let’s have a quick summary.

On January 12, 2020, there was a policy issued by the Department of Defense. It stated that any military member with more than 16 years of active service would not be eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits to their spouse and children. Previously, there were no limits on when a service member could transfer their benefits to their dependents. 

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Transferring GI Bill Benefits To Your Family Members

The Post 911 GI Bill allows you to transfer all or part of your available benefits to your family members. The military or DoD, however, determines if you can move your benefits to your family or not. When your service approves that you are eligible, you will be able to transfer GI Bill benefits to your dependents. Your spouse or selected child can apply through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

Transferring GI bill benefits applies to active duty and Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted. You must have served for a minimum of six years and agreed to help an additional four years for you to obtain the transfer GI Bill benefits. 

If you have served for ten years and can’t serve for four more years, you are eligible to transfer your GI Bill benefits. The transfer program is created to help mid-career military members stay active in service when they are needed, while they take full advantage of all GI benefits. That’s why it’s mandatory for a service member to still be in the military to qualify. 

Note: You must transfer your benefits while you’re on active duty. 

Are You Qualified To Transfer GI Bill Benefits?

You can qualify for the GI Bill benefits but not be able to transfer those benefits to your family members. You must be eligible for the Post 911 GI Bill. Also, you must be a member of the Armed Forces (officer or enlisted, Selected Reserve or active duty) on or after August 1, 2009, and have:

  • Been in the military service for at least six years on active service or Selected Reserve on the date your request was approved. 
  • Accept to commit for four more years in active service.

There’s one more thing that can qualify you to be eligible. You must complete ten years of active duty or more on the date your request got approved, and can’t commit an additional four more years of service due to either a policy or a statute. But you must agree to serve the maximum time permitted. 

The person receiving the benefit also has to be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). The individual has to be certified and eligible during the time the transfer happens (We will get to that shortly). 

Eligibility For GI Bill Transfer Benefits

Not every dependent is eligible to receive transfer benefits. The program is for immediate spouses and children. Eligible military members can transfer their GI benefits to: 

  • Their spouse
  • One or more of their children 
  • Any combination of spouse and children

If you get divorced, your ex-spouse is still eligible to use your transfer benefits. Also, the transfer of GI Bill benefits is possible when your child gets married. You can change your transfer benefits to any family member at any given time. However, when you designate your spouse to move GI Bill benefits, they have the right to deny or modify the transfer benefits anytime. 

More Details On Transferring GI Bill Benefits

You can transfer all of your GI Bill entitlement. If you’ve used some of the benefits, you can assign the remaining portion to your family members. 

While on active duty, you should give one month to your dependents to get their name in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) before you transfer your benefits to them. 

If you don’t add dependents within at least one month of entitlement, it will be impossible to add them later. When you add them, you can add or cancel the benefit when you finish your duty. 

A spouse: 

  • Can begin to use the benefits immediately 
  • Can use the benefits while on active duty or when you get out
  • Cannot access monthly allowance while on active duty
  • If you completed active duty before January 1, 2013, the spouse could have access to the benefits for 15 years from your discharge. There would be no limit if you got out after the said date. 

A child: 

  • Can access the benefits only after ten years of active service
  • Can use the benefits while on active duty or after discharge
  • can’t have access to the benefits unless the child is 18 years old or acquire a high-school diploma or certificate.
  • Can use monthly allowance even while on active duty
  • Can only have access to transferred benefits when the child is 26 years old. 

What If A Dependent Dies?

When the Forever GI Bill act, also known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, was signed into law on August 17, 2017, it brought some significant changes to the education benefits. 

As of August 1, 2018, the law states that veterans or military members who have transferred entitlement to family members can designate new dependent if the old dependent dies. In case the veteran or military member dies, the transferee can select newly qualified dependent of the veteran to transfer any of the dependent’s left entitlement. 

Benefits Family Members Can Receive

With the transferability option under the Post 911 GI Bill, you can transfer some or all of your benefits that have not been used. If the Department of Defense approves the Transfer of Entitlement (TOE), the spouse or children can get funds up to 36 months of benefits. The benefit covers financial support for tuition and fees, housing and books, and supplies.

Here’s a table form of how it looks like: 

Active-duty Service Members With Aggregate Period After September 10, 2001Payable Percentage Of Maximum Benefit
At least 3 years or 36 months 100%
At least 30 consecutive days and discharged because of a service-related disability100% 
Minimum of 30 months < 36 months90% 
Minimum of 24 months < 30 months 80% 
At least 18 months < 24 months 70%
At least 12 months <18 months60% 
Minimum of 6 months < 12 months50%
At least 90 days < 6 months 40%

How To Transfer GI Bill Benefits

There are three steps to transfer your GI Bill benefits: 

  1. Register your family members already enrolled in DEERS. 
  2. Visit the Transfer of Education Benefits official website to begin the process 
  3. When approved, your spouse and children can apply to the VA to use transferred benefits. Your family members can apply online. They can also fill out a VA Form 22-1990e and send it to the VA Regional office. 

Other Available Military Spouse and Dependent Children Benefits

Aside from the transfer of GI Bill benefits, there are other grants, scholarships, and opportunities for military spouses and dependent children. You can use some in addition to the GI Bill benefits. In this case, you have to plan your finances well and ensure that you get the most benefit possible. 

Here are some educational benefits available for your family members: 

  • MyCAA Scholarship for Military Spouses Program
  • Survivors’ And Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) Program 
  • Louis H. Schilt Memorial Scholarship Program

Mycaa Scholarship For Military Spouses

The program gives spouses up to $4,000, (that’s of over two years) of Financial Assistance for spouses who want to continue their education by pursuing an Associates’s degree, certification, or license in a high-demand portable occupation and career field. 

MyCAA is an employment assistance and career development program sponsored by the Defense Department’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program (SECO)

What Does MyCAA Offer?

  1. Education And Training Financial Assistance

The program offers an education benefit of $4000 maximum with a $2,000 annual fiscal year cap. It is to help qualified military spouses to acquire a profession to meet their desired career goals. The yearly cap waiver is available if there is an advance tuition cost exceeding $2,000 up to the maximum education benefit of $4,000.  

  1. Counseling Services For Employment 

MyCAA provides counseling services to military spouses who are married to active duty military members of all ranks, whether they are qualified to receive MyCAA financial assistance or not and their willingness to pursue their professional education. The program assists military spouses in essential resources, opportunities, local financial aid, and help to identify sources of state, federal, and local financial assistance. 

  1. Career Service And Employment Assistance 

MyCAA spouse members get referrals to all networks of military employers who have completed their study programs using MyCAA funding. 

Eligibility for MyCAA

Spouses of military members who are on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and 0-1 to 0-2 can begin their coursework while their military guarantor is on Title 10 military orders. Spouses of military members above 0-2 can still be eligible if they are already enrolled in an education program before a promotion.

Eligibility for MyCAA

Qualified spouses can establish a MyCAA Account at the MyCAA official website. Once you provide your profile information, MyCAA will verify your DEERs benefit if you are eligible. You’ll then be able to create your Career and Training Plan and request for FA when the course start date is within 30 days. Also, you are supposed to apply to your preferred school and enroll in each course in your approved MyCAA Career and Training plan. 

Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness Help

If you struggle with university student loan forgiveness, then you should get help with that. Because the employees in these agencies are dealing with the student loans every day and they have enough experience for solving different kinds of student loan problems.

Survivors’ And Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) Program

The DEA program offers education and training benefits to qualified dependents of individuals service members or veterans. The program provides up to 36 months of education benefits. However, if you enrolled in a class before August 1, 2018, you are eligible for up to 45 months of education benefits. 

The DEA program can be used for certificate and degree programs, on-the-job training, and apprenticeship. You can take a correspondence course if you are a spouse. 

Eligibility Requirements for Survivors’ And Dependents’ Education Assistance Program

To qualify for the program, you must be a daughter, son, and spouse of: 

  • A military member captured in the line of duty or missing in action
  • A service member hospitalized or receiving out-patient treatment for a service-related total and permanent disability, and is possible to be discharged for the disability. 
  • A veteran who is totally and permanently disabled as a result of a service-related disability or is dead
  • A military member retained by force or detained in line of duty by a foreign power or government.

DEA Rules For Children

Children should be between the ages of 18-26 to be eligible for the benefit. In some instances, you can start your benefit before 18 years and continue after 26 years of age. The benefits don’t end when you marry. 

It’s not possible to get the DEA benefit while on active duty. Veterans Affairs (VA) can extend the period of qualification by the number of months and days equal to the time devoted to active military service. 

DEA Rules For Spouses

As a spouse, your benefits end ten years from the date the VA approved your eligibility or the time of the veteran’s death. But, if you’re a surviving spouse of a military member who died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death. If you divorce a service member, your benefits end on the divorce date. If you marry again before the age of 57, your eligibility ends on the remarriage date. 

Survivors’ And Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) Rates

The following primary monthly rates are effective as of October 1, 2019 

Institutional Training 

Training Time Monthly Rate
Full time $1,248.00
¾ time $986.00
½ time $724.00
Less than ½ time and more than ¼ time$724.00 *
¼ time or less $312.00*

* Tuition and Fees Only. You cannot exceed the listed amount. 

Apprenticeship And On-the-Job Training 

Training PeriodMonthly Rate
First six months of training $793.00
Second six months of training$596.00
Third six months of training $392.00
Remainder of training $199.00

Louis H. Schilt Memorial Scholarship Program

The program provides an excellent opportunity for injured military members or veterans and their spouses to start a web design or graphic design career. 

Eligibility Requirement

The Louis H. Schilt Memorial Scholarship is for mentally and physically wounded US service members and spouses of injured service members. The scholarship benefits veterans who have gone through life-changing experiences due to mental or physical injury. Sessions College awards scholarships in the Louis H. Schilt Memorial Scholarship in winter, spring, and fall. 

You can apply for the scholarship by writing a creative essay and a personal statement about the service experience and injury. The scholarship awards committee will judge the written service experience and decide if you are eligible. 

You must submit copies of injury documentation, both mental and physical. Also, you must be over 18 years and provide evidence of a high school diploma, college degree, or GED. 

Final Thoughts

Since the enactment of the Post 911 GI Bill, it has become one of the most valuable benefits for many family members. With student loan debt constantly on the rise, service members and veterans can transfer GI Bill benefits to their children and spouse to provide education benefits, if they meet all the requirements. 

If you are in your sixth year of military service, you are qualified to transfer GI Bill benefits to your family members. If you are not qualified, you can still find other educational benefits listed on this page to help you cover the tuition and fees. In short, there’s always a way out to enjoy some form of benefit. All you need to do is to acquire the right source of information and seek advice from certified advisers.