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In recent weeks, the GI Bill has received new attention because of a major change that the Department of Defense implemented on July 12, 2019.

The DOD instituted a 16-year cap barring members with longer service times from transferring their Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits to a spouse or dependents.

What is the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

This bill was passed for service members after 9/11 to help them pay for education and training in their transition to civilian life. These benefits include tuition and fees coverage, housing allowance, book stipends, and even relocation costs for the service member.

The amount of benefits a service member receives is determined through a tiered system based on service time.

Furthermore, there is a unique provision in this bill that allows for the transferability of education benefits to a spouse or dependents. For service members eligible to do so, this is an incredible college funding tool for their children. However, there are rules to be aware of!

Qualifications for Transfer

Individuals who have served six years and agree to an additional four years of active duty can transfer these benefits to their spouse or children.  Some exceptions are made for those that cannot commit to the additional service requirement.

As mentioned above, there is now a 16-year cap that prohibits the transfer of education benefits. This means that a service member who serves for 16 years or more is NOT eligible to transfer his or her benefits to a spouse or dependent.

Only those who earn a purple heart will receive an exception to this new rule.

How Do You Actually Transfer Your Benefits?

Assuming a service member has applied and been approved for educational benefits, they must enroll their family members in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS).

Once active in the system, the service member can reallocate benefits as desired using the TEB Portlet in MilConnect.

There are some rules that must be met to allow dependents to use these benefits:

  • May start to use the benefit only after the individual making the transfer has completed at least 10 years of service in the armed forces
  • May use the benefit while the eligible individual remains 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 he/she has reached age 18
  • Is entitled to the monthly housing allowance stipend even though the eligible individual is on active duty
  • Is not subject to the 15-year delimiting date, but may not use the benefit after reaching 26 years of age

How Does It Work In Reality?

Being an experiential learner, I need to know how the process actually works. I believe it is also extremely important for parents of young adults to understand how these benefits work as well. Let’s assume your child is examining schools they would like to attend.

Start by using the GI Bill Comparison Tool to see data on past GI Bill recipients at particular schools. This can provide assurance that the system is working properly, and it also gives insight into complaints issued by recipients at the particular institution.

Benefits are paid as follows:

Tuition and Fees: paid directly to the institution on your behalf. If in campus housing this would also be included.

Housing (off-campus): paid to the recipient of benefits. Benefits are calculated based on zip code.

Book stipend: $1000 annually paid to the recipient.

Parents, please note that housing and book stipends are paid directly to the student. Help them in this process so that these hard-earned dollars are used correctly!

Want to learn how to pay for college without breaking the bank? Check out our free educational webinars!

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Related Reading:

How the GI Bill Affects the Costs of Higher Education

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