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While Soldiers are provided with a variety of benefits during their military career, educational benefits may be among the most well known and often used.
However, some Soldiers may not be aware that educational benefits provided by a Post-9/11 GI Bill allow Soldiers who meet certain criteria to transfer their educational benefits to their spouse or children.
In order to qualify for the benefits transfer, a Soldier must first qualify for the GI Bill itself.
Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility requires that Soldiers have 90 days of qualifying service after Sept. 10, 2001, to receive 40 percent of the GI Bill benefits and 36 months or more of qualifying service after Sept. 10, 2001, to receive 100 percent of the benefits.
Non-qualified service is defined as the first five years of active-duty service obligation for service academy commissioning, the first four years of ADSO from an ROTC scholarship and the first three years of ADSO from a student loan repayment program election.
Once a Soldier meets the Post-9/11 GI Bill requirements, they then must meet transfer eligibility criteria in order to initiate the transfer of any benefits.
In order to transfer benefits, the Soldier must be currently on active duty or a member of the selected reserve, have at least six years of eligible service, have no adverse or negative actions pending and agree to serve an additional service obligation based on the time the Soldier had in service as of Aug. 1, 2009.
If a Soldier had 20 or more years of service as of August 2009, then there is no additional service requirement; 19 years of service as of August 2009 carries an additional service requirement of one year, while 18 years of service would require an additional two-year service requirement and 17 years requires an additional three years of service.
If a Soldier has less than 17 years of service, then four additional years of service are required in order to qualify for the benefits transfer.
However, beginning Aug. 1, 2013, all personnel who wish to transfer educational benefits will incur a four-year additional service requirement or service remaining requirement.
With the change impending and the economy still on shaky ground, Master Sgt. Gregg Curry, a reserve component career counselor, said Soldiers interested in transferring their benefits should do so as soon as possible.
If you can transfer your benefits and take care of it now, that would be my recommendation, Curry said. With the economic climate today, its probably a good idea to go ahead and do it sooner rather than later.
In order to begin the transfer process, Soldiers should visit the MilConnect website at www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect.
Curry said he recommends initially transferring one month of benefits to all Family members that might need benefits in the future, as a one-month transfer will activate them in the system now, rather than after Aug. 1.
As long as you enter one month of benefits for each person, then they become active in the system and you can transfer benefits to them freely, Curry said. If you have a child who drops out of school or something like that, you can take whatever benefits you had transferred to them and transfer them to another family member or dependent. Youre able to move them around, so long as theyre entered into the system initially with one month of benefits. After that, you have the flexibility to move them around.
Soldiers should contact their servicing career counselor once they have requested the transfer, as the counselor will serve as the approving official for the process.
After requesting the transfer, Soldiers should return to the website at a later date to ensure the transfer was accepted.
Once a request is approved, the recipient of the benefits must go to the Veterans Inline Application website at vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp and submit Form 22-1990e.
Upon completion of the form, the benefit recipient will receive the certificate of eligibility that schools require when enrolling students who are using transferred benefits. Dependents may use their transferred benefits to attend any VA-approved institution of higher learning, including two-year or four-year public or private colleges and universities, including online schools.
They may pursue any degree permitted by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including associates degrees, bachelors degrees, masters or first professional degrees or doctorate degrees.
The VA will play tuition and eligible fees directly to the school, up to the in-state maximum, which varies by state.
A monthly housing allowance is also provided to full-time students, which depends upon the ZIP code of the school.
If the student is taking all online courses, the housing allowance will not be authorized. However, taking at least one traditional class in a classroom setting can cause the housing allowance to be authorized.
Spouses are not eligible for the housing allowance if the Soldier is still serving on active duty, but dependent children will receive the allowance regardless if they are living at home or not.
If a Soldier encounters problems during the transfer process, they should contact their career counselor at the battalion or brigade level.