I have a confession to make. I used my husband’s Post-9/11 GI bill for myself instead of saving it for our kids.
Do I feel guilty? No, I don’t.
First of all, the Post-9/11 GI bill is my husband’s benefit – not mine. When I decided to go to grad school, he offered to transfer it to me. I said, “Don’t you want to use it?” He knew he would have additional educational opportunities through the military and at that point in time he wasn’t interested in further education post-military service.
“What about our kids,” I asked? “Should we save it for them?”
“You want to go to school now. Our kids are in diapers.”
So, I started to do some research on how I could financially support my family with an advanced degree. The Department of Labor reports “few things affect people’s earnings power more than their level of education. In general, more education means more dollars earned.” There are several reports with lots of data confirming that lifetime earnings increase as education levels increase. The Department of Labor also reports in 2014 the median weekly earnings for full-time workers were:
- $488 with less than a high school diploma
- $668 with a high school diploma and no college
- $1,101 with a Bachelor’s degree
- $1,386 with an Advanced degree
Wow – that is a $898 weekly difference!
What does all of this data mean for me? It means by using my husband’s Post-9/11 GI bill to obtain an advanced degree I have a better chance of supporting my family financially over the long term. It also means, with careful planning we’ll be able to set aside money to send our kids to college.
Another consideration for our family was to gauge whether the Post-9/11 GI bill would be available for our children. Recent proposals include reducing the Post-9/11 GI benefit for dependent children by removing the housing stipend for dependents receiving a transferred benefit. This proposal wasn’t approved by Congress last year; however no one can accurately predict what the future benefit will look like.
The idea that the Post-9/11 GI bill might not be available by the time my children are old enough to use it is scary. And knowing that I could provide more financial stability for my family sooner than my kids would be able to use the benefit made the choice easier for us to make.
So yes, I’m guilty as charged: I used my husband’s Post-9/11 GI bill benefit. And if it’s the right choice for your family, you should consider it, too.
If the Post-9/11 GI bill isn’t an option for your family, consider applying for one of NMFA’s many military spouse scholarships! There’s something for everyone, and even partner colleges and universities who have incentives on top of our scholarships! Apply by January 31, 2016!
If you’ve used your spouse’s Post-9/11 GI bill, how did you family decide on this? Tell us about it in the comments.
Posted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Issues Strategist