Every military family should consider the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit as part of their family’s financial plan. The benefit began as a recruiting and retention tool for use only by the service member. Since 2009 when the educational benefit became transferrable to the service member’s spouse and children, it has further eased the financial burden of higher education for thousands of military families. However, the Pentagon has recently announced changes to the transferability of the benefit that will go into effect July 12, 2019. Here’s a quick review:
- The service member (active duty or Reserve) must still serve six years before transferring the Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefit to family members. At that time, the service member’s spouse can begin using the benefit. After 10 years of service, any children who are at least age 18 or have earned a high school diploma may begin using the benefit.
- NEW! The service member cannot have served more than 16 years before transferring the benefit. The old rule was that you must be able to serve another four years after transferring the benefit, with some exceptions being made to that policy. Starting in July, you must have four years left AND be under 16 years of service. The good news: if you are a senior member of the military, there is still time before July to go online and transfer those benefits before the rule changes.
- NEW! Purple Heart recipients can transfer the benefit at any time during their active duty service without any of the above time-in-service restrictions.
- You must transfer at least one month of benefit to any eligible dependents within the defined window of opportunity to be able to freely allocate those benefits to any of them in the future. Transferred benefits can be easily allocated and reallocated to dependents using the online DMDC portal. Also, children born after the initial transfer of benefits become eligible to receive transferred benefits as soon as they are enrolled in DEERS.
- The tuition benefit is capped based on the national average tuition of state public institutions (currently $22,805.34). However, there are many private schools that have entered into “Yellow Ribbon” agreements with the VA, and thus, have pledged significant resources toward meeting the full tuition cost of a student who is using the Post-9/11 benefit at the institution. Our family split the use of the benefit between our two oldest children attending private Yellow Ribbon schools, extending the total value applied toward tuition and housing to more than $200,000.
If your household qualifies for this benefit, please read the fact sheet concerning transferability. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to schedule a free call with me to find the resources you need to take advantage of this unique education funding opportunity.