A common question that arises about the GI Bill® is, “Can I transfer my benefits to my wife or children?” Fortunately, in June 2009, the Department of Defense (DOD) outlined all transferability rules for GI Bill Benefits to dependents and these questions are now answered.
Who is Eligible to Transfer GI Bill Benefits?
Any Armed Forces member (Active Duty, Selected Reserve, Guard, and both officer and enlisted) who has served on or after Aug. 1, 2009, who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Forever GI Bill), and:
- Has at least six years of service in the Armed Forces on the date they elect to transfer education benefits and agrees to serve four additional years in the Armed Forces from the date of election
- Has at least ten years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of election, is precluded by either standard policy (service or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute
Policy Change on Transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
Effective July 12th, 2019, eligibility to transfer GI Bill benefits was limited to service members with less than 16 years of total active-duty or selected reserve service, as applicable. Previously, there were no restrictions on when a service member could transfer educational benefits to their family members. All approvals for transferability remain otherwise unchanged. Effectively this means servicemembers will need to start the GI Bill benefit transfer process between six and 16 years of service.
Which Family Members are Eligible to Receive GI Bill Benefits?
An individual approved to transfer an entitlement to educational assistance under this section may transfer the individual’s entitlement to:
- One or more of the individual’s children
- The individual’s spouse
- Any combination of spouse and child
The eligible Armed Forces member retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time. The remaining benefits can be re-applied to anyone who is eligible including yourself or dependents.
Is Anyone Else Eligible to Use My GI Bill Benefits for Educational Assistance?
Unfortunately, no. At this time only dependent children and spouses who are enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) are eligible for GI Bill benefits to be transferred.
What Benefits are Eligible for Transfer?
An eligible Armed Forces member may transfer up to the total months of unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, or the entire 36 months if the member has used none.
How Do I Transfer My Benefits?
Benefits can be transferred by submitting a Transferability of Education Benefits form.
State vs. Federal Education Benefits for Dependents
Many states including California, cover the tuition and fees at state colleges and universities for children of disabled Veterans. Each state has different eligibility criteria and some do not have this program. This is worth looking into if you do not qualify for transferability of your GI Bill or if you do not or cannot commit to the additional time in service. Additionally, some states have education tuition and fee waivers for Veterans that may be useful to you, depending on your GI Bill eligibility.
For more information on states that offer free college tuition for Veterans, read our article here: States that Offer Free Tuition to Veterans.
What is the Best Military Friendly College for my Spouse or Children?
Selecting the right college is dependent on many factors but taking full advantage of your GI Bill Benefits is only the first step. Read our Military Friendly Colleges Guide for more information on selecting the right college for members of your family.
Can You Transfer the Post-9/11 GI Bill After Retirement?
No, unfortunately transferability is only available while a servicemember is still on active duty, or currently serving in the Guard or Reserve. For example, the dependent you are electing to transfer education benefits to must be registered in DEERS.
Can A Spouse Get BAH From The GI Bill?
GI Bill beneficiaries cannot receive MHA while a servicemember is on active duty except for child dependents. The current amount is equal to the BAH for an E5 with dependents based on the zip code of your school (for students attending full time).
Can I Transfer The Montgomery GI Bill?
No, unfortunately, unlike the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill does not have a transfer-to-dependents option to it. Additionally, the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserve is also non-transferrable.
Remember: if you entered the military prior to 9/11 but have continued to serve after 9/11, you most likely are eligible for the Forever GI Bill. Because everyone’s situation is different, you can consult additional Military Benefits articles, contact the VA through eBenefits, or your Command, if you are still serving.