The Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most popular benefits of military service, and many families find that they get maximum benefit by transferring those benefits to the service member’s spouse. The process to transfer and use the benefits can seem overwhelming, but it’s not really that hard. You can get personalized assistance from the Education Counselors on your base and/or the person at your school who handles Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, but it is good to know the basics (and where to find the details) yourself.
Transferring Post 9/11 GI bill benefits to a spouse is permitted when the service member has six years of service, and requires that the service member serve another four years. In practice, this means that their current enlistment must take them to at least four years from the date of transfer. Many folks find that they need to wait until re-enlistment to transfer their benefits. Benefits are transferred using the Transfer of Educational Benefits process at the Milconnect website.
Using The Benefits
Spouses may begin using transferred benefits immediately. Start the process by filling out VA Form 22-1990E (Application for Family Member to Use Transferred Benefits) or by using the much easier online form. Within about 30 days, you’ll either receive a Certificate of Eligibility in the mail. If, for some reason, your eligibility was denied, you’ll also receive the denial via the mail.
While you’re waiting for your forms from the VA, talk to the VA benefits representative at your school. These folks are usually experts.
What You’ll Receive
There are three basic parts to the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
The GI Bill pays 100% of tuition and fees, up to the maximum in-state tuition for public schools and up to $22,805.34 per academic year for private or foreign schools. If you attend a more expensive private school, or you are unable to obtain in-state tuition rates for some reason, you may be eligible for additional benefits under the Yellow Ribbon program.
A $1,000 yearly books and supplies stipend is paid proportionally based upon your enrollment, at a rate of $41.67 per credit hour up to $500 per semester.
A Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) is available to spouses only if their service member is no longer serving and receiving Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH.) The MHA rate is based upon the location of the school and the date you started using your benefits. (See The New Forever GI Bill – What It Means For You for more information about recent changes to MHA.)
This is just a brief outline of how spouses can use transferred GI Bill benefits. For more details, see the Spouse Education section at Military.com.