A post at World Traveling Military Family has been getting a lot of social media attention, and it has helped me to realize that a lot of people don't know about the authorization for government-paid travel for dependent military children who are attending school in the United States while their sponsor and family are stationed outside the United States (OCONUS), including Hawaii and Alaska.
I know I have never written about this, because to me it falls under the same category as other government-paid travel, like PCS moves, Consecutive Overseas Tours (COT) travel and medical travel. I assumed that everyone knows about these travel entitlements, but maybe I should write about all of them.
EligibilityIn order to qualify for dependent student travel benefits, the student must:
- meet the qualification to be a regular military dependent (under 23 if a full-time college student),
- command sponsored for the overseas location at which his or her sponsor and family are living,
- a full-time student at an accredited school (the same requirements to remain a dependent beyond age 21). This may be a high school, college or university, or qualifying vocational school. The benefit remains for 30 days after leaving school for any reason.
BenefitThe student is authorized two one-way tickets per year, as the government is accepting responsibility for providing transportation from the OCONUS location to the school at the beginning of the year and then from the school back to the OCONUS location at the end of the year. However, the regs do not specify that the travel has to be used in that way, allowing families to use the travel allowance in the way that is the most beneficial to their situation.
(If this seems confusing to you, think of it this way: the college student's home is with their family. The government is providing transportation to and from their place of education.)
Military families who have used the dependent student travel program tell me that the two one-way tickets must be used in opposite directions, which makes sense to me. Many families choose to use this benefit over the Christmas holidays, when tickets are expensive, and then pay for summer travel out-of-pocket.
The benefit is based on a fiscal year, so families can strategize the best way to use the benefit during the students first or last year of school, or during the family's first or last year stationed OCONUS.
How To Use The ProgramTravel under the dependent student program is handled just like any other government-funded travel.
- The service member asks their personnel office to cut travel orders for their dependent child.
- With the travel orders, the service member then asks the travel office to make the arrangements.
- Depending on details, the travel may be direct billed to the government or the service member may pay out-of-pocket and file a travel claim.
All this information is available in the Joint Travel Regulations, Chapter 7, Part C, Section 1, Subsection E: Special Circumstances Travel and Transportation, Dependent Student Travel, Uniformed Members, Dependent Student Transportation to a School In the US. If you've not read through the Joint Travel Regs, I encourage you to take a little time seeing what information is there. It contains all the rules that apply to your travel and housing allowances.