ARLINGTON, Va. – January 18, 2016 ? Army National Guard Soldiers eligible for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill have had the option of transferring some or all of those benefits to their spouse or children, but they may miss out on taking full advantage of that if they don’t elect to do so while still in uniform.
“Once Soldiers separate from service the option to transfer is no longer possible,” said Ken Hardy, chief of the Army National Guard Education Branch at the National Guard Bureau, adding that sometimes Soldiers may not have those education benefits in mind as they move through their career or prepare to transition out of the service.
That potentially affects close to 60,000 Army Guard Soldiers, said Hardy. But transferring those benefits ?which could be up to $140,000 in benefits? can be done with a few clicks of the mouse.
To do so, Soldiers simply need to visit www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/ and select the Transfer Education Benefits link under the Quick Links heading.
“This program is huge and transferring education benefits to an eligible dependent is so easy,” said Hardy. While Soldiers must elect to transfer those benefits prior to leaving the service, Hardy said that once out of the service Soldiers can still change how those benefits are distributed between their spouse or children.
In order to transfer education benefits, Soldiers must complete at least six years of total service by the date of the transfer request and agree to continue serving for at least four additional years, which may require some Soldiers to extend their enlistment contracts, said Hardy.
However, the rules on when those benefits can be used differ for spouses and children. Spouses can make use of the benefits once the transfer is approved and can do so up to 15 years from the last day of service qualifying that Soldier for Post-9/11 benefits, typically the last day of active duty service.
Children may not begin using the benefits until they either turn 18 or complete high school, whichever comes first, and must use the benefits by age 26. Additionally, a child may not use the benefit until the Soldier who transferred the benefits completes 10 years of service.
For more information, including what counts as qualifying service, Soldier’s should contact their local education services office, call 1-800-GIBILL-1 or visit the GI Bill website at www.gibill.va.gov, said Hardy.