If you’re serving in the U.S. military and either already have a degree or just don’t have any interest in pursuing one, you may be able to transfer your GI bill to your spouse or children. Here’s how you become eligible to transfer, who can receive the benefits, and how to go about securing their educational future.
Eligibility for transferring your GI Bill benefits
The ability to transfer your GI Bill benefits to your spouse or child is only available to “career” service members, which means it’s not an option that’s available to service members amid their first enlistment or commissioned contract. Fortunately, outside of time in service requirements, there aren’t very many more hoops you need to clear in order to start the transfer process.
In order to be eligible to transfer your GI Bill, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have at least 6 years in service on the date you submit your request
- You must agree to add four additional years of service as a part of the transfer request, bringing your minimum time served to ten total years, though the transfer can commence after your sixth in service.
- Your eligible dependents receiving the transferred benefits must already be enrolled in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System).
Which benefit can you transfer?
When you transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill to a family member, they gain access to as much as 36 months worth of tuition, housing expenses, and book and supply costs.
If you have already utilized your GI Bill benefit for a number of months, those months will be deducted from the total available to the dependent for use moving forward.
How and when family members can use transferred benefits
There are two different categories of dependent that are eligible to receive a transfer of your GI Bill: spouses and children. These different groups also have different limitations established for when they can begin claiming GI Bill benefits.
Transferring your GI Bill to a spouse
Spouses may begin using the benefits immediately upon transfer, and may be used regardless of whether the service member is still on active duty or not. However, if the service member is still on active duty, the spouse will not receive the housing stipend that usually comes with the Post 9/11 GI bill.
Spouses are able to use these benefits for up to 15 years after the service member’s separation.
Transferring your GI Bill to a child
Unlike with spouses, children are not eligible to begin using their benefits until the service member reaches ten years of service. Like spouses, however, they are eligible to use the benefits while their transferring parent is on active duty or already separated.
Unlike spouses, children can be eligible for the housing stipend payments even while their transferring service member parent is still on active duty.
In another break from spouse-specific rules, children do not have to use their benefits within 15 years, but they do have to use them prior to turning age 26.
How to transfer your GI Bill to a spouse or child
You can apply to transfer or change your GI Bill benefits through a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE). You can submit a TOE in two different ways:
- You can submit the form online directly to the VA
- You can download the form, fill it out, and mail it in to your nearest VA regional office.
If you still have questions about transferring your GI Bill benefits, check out this fact sheet on transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits (PDF) uploaded by the VA.