The Post-9/11 GI Bill permits a service member (something never permitted in the past) to transfer his or her unused education benefits to a spouse or a dependent child if the service member meets eligibility requirements. The service member may transfer all or part of the total months of unused benefits (36 months). The transfer is not affected by the marriage of a dependent child or by a divorce from the spouse after the election has been made.
The service member who wishes to transfer educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill must be a member of the Armed Forces (whether active duty or Selected Reserves) on August 1, 2009 or after and must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In addition, the service member must meet one of three primary qualifications:
1. 6 or more years of service on the date of electing to transfer benefits and agrees to serve for 4 more years from the date of election to transfer benefits.
2. 10 or more years of service on the date of electing to transfer benefits, is prohibited by either policy of the service or the Department of Defense or legal statute from committing to 4 more years, and commits to serve as long as permitted by law or policy.
3. Is eligible for retirement or becomes eligible for retirement between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2013 (completed 20 years of active duty or 20 years of qualifying service in the Selected Reserves). In some cases one to three additional service years will be required
The spouse or dependent child(ren) of the service member will receive the educational assistance benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill for the cost of tuition and fees. Dependent children also receive a monthly stipend and the books and supplies stipend. The benefit can be used for up to 15 years after the service member leaves active duty for the last time.
Spouses can use the benefits while the military spouse remains on active duty or after s/he leaves active duty. Spouses may not receive a monthly stipend or the allowance for books and supplies if the service member is serving on active duty at the time of taking the training or education. The benefits must be used within 15 years of the last time the service member leaves active duty.
Children to whom the benefits are transferred may only use the benefits after the service member has completed 10 years of service or more. The child must complete high school (or equivalent) or reach age 18 to before using the benefits. Children are eligible for the monthly stipend and the allowance for books and supplies. Although not limited to 15 years within which the benefits must be used, the dependent child may not use transferred educational benefits after age 26.
There is a process through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs by which spouses and dependent children qualify for transfer of benefits. A visit to their web site is the first step.