Let’s be honest: the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a huge educational benefit for a service member. With that, comes the option for a service member to transfer all or some of the benefit to a spouse or child(ren). My husband decided to share his Post-9/11 GI bill benefit with me, and I am forever grateful.
How does it work?
An eligible service member (someone who has served the required number of years–generally 6–and agrees to serve for 4 more years) may apply to his or her service branch to transfer the benefit to a spouse. The request to “Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB)” must be completed while the service member is on active duty. A veteran or retiree cannot transfer an unused Post-9/11 GI benefit. Sorry, no exceptions to this rule. The TEB is a placeholder, if you will, and can be done in advance of the recipient attending school.
First, find your favorite college-football team, I mean school!
Next, select your school of choice with the education program of your choosing. You must work directly with the school admission’s office to apply and be accepted into the program. After you have been accepted, you’ll want to find the school’s Veteran Certifying Official or Veterans Certification Office. Program names may differ but essentially you’ll need to find the office or person who can answer your questions about how your school processes the Post-9/11 GI bill benefit.
Ready to use the benefit?
When you are ready to use the Post-9/11 GI bill to pay for school, you’ll need to send the completed TEB form to the VA. This can be done online via the eBenefits portal. This lets the VA know you have selected a school and are ready to use the benefit. You’ll probably need to register for classes and coordinate with the Veteran Certifying Official at your school, too. Generally, your school’s VA official will need to certify your enrollment with the VA before the start of each term.
What benefits will I receive as a spouse?
A spouse may start using a transferred benefit immediately, and may use the benefit while the service member is on active duty. Benefits include tuition, fees, a book stipend, and a monthly housing allowance. However, a spouse isn’t eligible for the monthly housing allowance if the service member is on active duty. A spouse using a transferred benefit is eligible for all tuition and fee payments for an in-state student. If you attend a private or foreign school, the annual tuition rate is capped. For the 2015 – 2016 school year, the maximum amount for a private or foreign school is $21, 084.89.
What are some tips I should know?
Tuition and fee payments will be sent directly to your school. However, if there is an over-payment of tuition or fees, you’ll receive a notice from the VA asking you to repay the erroneous funds. Be prepared to talk to your school if you need to return money to the VA.
The book stipend and monthly housing allowance (if eligible) will be sent directly to you. If you are eligible for the housing allowance and attend school online, the rate is $783.00 a month. For in-person, full-time attendance, the housing allowance is an E-5 with dependent rate, based on the school’s zip code location.
If you are using the Post-9/11 GI bill as a spouse after your service member has left active duty, check to see if your school program participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. Schools can elect to participate in this program and provide additional funding for education. If you are attending a private school, the Yellow Ribbon program can help you cover the additional costs. Keep in mind this is a voluntary program and the school sets the number of available spots per program per school each academic year. For example, a school may elect to have an unlimited number of undergraduate Yellow Ribbon spots, but may limit graduate programs to a certain number of seats per program, such as 5 for law school or 3 for a masters program.
Are you a military spouse who used a transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit? What other tips would you share?