Alison Hansen, Navy Wife & Associate Director at Thomas Edison State College
Introduced in 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) is probably the most common veterans’ program utilized by spouses and dependents. Eligible service members have the option of transferring their benefit to their immediate family members; however, as always there are rules and caveats (and confusion) associated with the transfer.
Are You Eligible?
Some things to ask when thinking about using your spouse’s Transfer Education Benefit (TEB):
- Is the service member eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? Do they meet at least one of these requirements:
A member of the Armed Forces (active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted) and were in the service on 1 August 2009 or joined after that date.
A Uniformed Service member of the Public Health Service (PHS) and were in the service on 1 August 2011 or joined after that date.
A Uniformed Service member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and were in the service on 1 September 2011 or joined after that date
(Contact the VA to confirm eligibility at www.gibill.va.gov)
- Has the service member elected to give up their MGI Bill (if applicable) in order to be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? (Contact the VA)
- If the service member is eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, do they have at least 6 years of service in the Uniformed Services on the date they elect to transfer the Post-9/11 GI Bill and agree to serve an additional 4 years in the Uniformed Services from that date?
Once it is determined that the transfer of benefits is possible, the Service member can visit the milConnect for step-by- step directions.
Making It Work For You
Keep in mind that the GI Bill can be transferred entirely, it can be split up between dependents, or split between the service member and dependents. The transfer is divided by number of months (0 to 36), which is selected when the transfer request is made. The allocation can be changed and people added while on active duty only.
After retirement, no one can be added; only the number of months can be changed. Spouses can use their benefit for 15 years after the member separates/retires; children can use their benefits until their 26th birthdays.
- Once the transfer of Benefits is done through the milConnect portal, the individual who is receiving the TEB (hereon after will be referred to as “YOU”!) submits VA Form 22-1990E, which can be submitted electronically through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VONAPP Web Site
- At this time, you will want to meet with the college, university or program that you plan to attend and speak to their VA certifying official (or the financial aid office) to see if there is anything else that you need to do. There may be additional forms to submit that are specific to the institution.
- After what seems like forever (but in reality, it typically takes six to eight weeks), you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (a.k.a. COE) in the mail. This document is meant to inform the institution that you are eligible for the VA benefits, at what level (100% coverage, 90% coverage, etc.) and how long (36 months, 12 months, etc.). Submit the COE to the school (just a copy-keep the original for your records), as well as any documentation specific to your school, and you should be all set to register for classes!
If you are enrolled full time and have 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred to you, you may receive the following:
- Full tuition & fees paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students. Students attending a state school but are considered non-residents or those attending private schools (which yearly expenses exceed $21,084.89) may be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program
- An annual books & supplies stipend: This stipend typically is not received prior to needing your materials- so I do not recommend considering this an allowance- more of “reimbursement” for SOME of the money you spent on books. It typically will not cover the full cost of books.
- Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA): Students using transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits will not receive the housing allowance while their spouse is on Active Duty. Child dependents are eligible. The current amount is equal to the BAH for an E5 with dependents based on the zip code of your school (for students attending full time). Students must attend more than half time and the amount is determined by the “rate of pursuit”. The VA uses higher math to calculate this “rate of pursuit”, but your institution should be able to help crack the code. Students attending exclusively online classes will be eligible for a MHA of $783.00 (for full time- and is also determined by the “rate of pursuit”.
(Something worth mentioning- while it is tempting to rely on the MHA to pay for living expenses such as rent, there can be delays in payment or issues that prohibit the VA from sending payments in time. Be aware you may be waiting. And waiting).
Contact the VA (www.gibill.va.gov) and/or your school to determine what payments you are eligible to receive. Once you are enrolled in classes, the school will submit enrollment verification (VA Form 22-1995) to the VA. This will allow the VA to pay your tuition directly to the school. This will also initiate the other payments (for which you may be eligible) to begin. Please note: you can still apply for grants and scholarships while using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Speak to the Financial Aid office to see how that can work for you.
Author: Alison Hansen is an Associate Director in the Office of Military and Veteran Education at Thomas Edison State University. She is also the Treasurer of the Southeastern Council on Military Education (SECOME) and an advocate for military spouse education opportunities. She is married to a Navy submariner and they have two children.
Added note: Changes to GI Bill were recently approved by the House and now moves on to the Senate for vote. Keep up with changes at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/