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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m AGR for the Air National Guard since 2000 (not retired) and my daughter is 24 years old. I would like to transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill to her to attend a 1-year trade school this August. Is this possible?

A: Yes it is possible for you to transfer your Post 9/11 GI Bill to her, but not by August. Before the passage of GI Bill 2.0, your AGR time did not count toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility. Now your AGR time back to August 1, 2009 counts, so in August, you will have 24 months of eligibility, putting you at the 80% tier level. The issue is you can’t start using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits until October 1st, which means if you transfer your GI Bill to your daughter, she would not be able to start using her transferred benefits until then.  Also, she would inherit the same tier level, so her schooling costs would only be covered at the 80%, meaning 80% of her tuition and fees would be paid, she would get 80% of the housing allowance and up to 80% of the book stipend.

To make a transfer request after August, go to the TEB website and enter the number of months you want to transfer to her. If her recorded is “greyed” out or it will not let you enter anything, then most likely the cause is you will have to extend your enlistment. Once you can enter information, the status will change to Pending Review. Keep checking back and watch for the status to change to “Approved”.

Once approved, then your daughter can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e so she can get her Certificate of eligibility which she will need when enrolling in school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a reservist. I have never had the GI Bill, but I have already finished college. What could I do to get it and transfer it to my daughters?

A:  The short answer is deploy. Let me explain. The only way a Reservist or National Guardsman can qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill is to deploy for a minimum of 90-days on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation. You have to qualify first for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, because that is the only GI Bill having a transfer-of-benefits option.

The GI Bill you have as a Reservists (Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves) does not have the transfer option. In addition, you will lose your GI Bill benefits 10 years from your date of benefits eligibility (NOBE) if you do not use them and of course they cease to exist once you separate.

The transfer of benefits policy differs between active duty servicemembers and Selected Reserve members. For the active duty, they have to be fully qualified for the Post 9/11 GI Bill before they can make a transfer. For Selected Reservists, they have to meet minimum qualifications of serving on a Title 10 order for a minimum of 90 days.

Of course, there is also a difference in the benefit between the two branches. Because the active duty has to qualify for 100% of the GI Bill, their GI Bill recipients (dependent children) get 100% of the benefit.

For the Reserves and National Guard personnel, if they qualify at the 60% level (from serving a one-year deployment for example), then their benefit recipients only get 60% of the benefit as the recipient inherits the servicemembers qualification tier.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is there any action being worked to allow retirees the option of transferring GI Bill benefits to eligible dependents? This does not seem very equitable since I paid in to the MGIB and can transition to the Post 9/11 Bill.

A: Yes there is. A new bill (H.R. 1330) was just introduced in the Legislature by Rep. Alexander (R-LA) that would allow 20-year+ retirees retiring before August 1, 2009 the option to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill months of entitlement to a spouse or dependents.

For those not knowing the current rules, career veterans who qualify for the Post 9/11GI Bill, but who retired prior to August 1, 2009, are not eligible to make a transfer of benefits. The way Congress wrote the rules a servicemember had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request.

Because they retired before the Post 9/11 GI Bill was started on August 2009, although they qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill by serving after September 10, 2001, never seemed quite fair, but prior legislation has not only failed, it never even came to a vote. So it will be interesting to see how the popularity of this bill differs from the previous one.

If you are a veteran who retired prior to August 1, 2009, but want to make a transfer of benefits, contact your legislators and let them know you would like them to support (H.R. 1330). Legislators understand numbers. If a few of us contact them, it might not get their attention, but if all of us make contact, they listen. Do your part for career veterans having the Post 9/11 GI Bill and retiring before August 1, 2009. If we can provide solidarity, we can get this done and correct a wrong.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How do I transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my daughter?

A: It easy – providing you meet the required Post 9/11 GI Bill qualifications of:

  • you are still serving.
  • have served at least 6 years in the Armed Forces.
  • agree to serve an additional four years
  • your daughter is listed in DEERS as your dependent.

Once you meet these qualifications, then go to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website. Open your daughter’s record and enter in the number of months of entitlement you want to transfer to her. Once finished, you will see the Status Block change to “Pending Review” Keep coming back to this website and look for the Status Block to change to “Approved”. Be patient as it can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change.

If her record is “grayed out” or it will not allow you to add months of entitlement, then you do not meet the transfer requirements. Generally, it is because of the requirement to serve an additional four years has not been set-up. In that case, extend your enlistment.

Once approved, then your daughter can submit VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website. In return, she will get back a Certificate of Eligibility which she will need when registering for school as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently enrolled in the Army Loan Repayment program (LRP). I do understand that participation in this program automatically forfeits GI Bill participation. My inquiries are: How does enrollment in the Army LRP affect participation in the Green to Gold program? Secondly, does participation in the LRP also forfeits one from the Post 9/11 GI benefits?

A: The way the rules are written, a servicemember cannot qualify for the Army Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) and the GI Bill for the same time period. When you opted for SLRP, you incurred a three-year obligation, so you won’t start acquiring GI Bill eligibility until those three years are paid back. Then it will take another three years to get to the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier. So you don’t forfeit your Post 9/11 GI Bill in its entirety – just for the timeframe of your SLRP obligation.

As far as how it affects the Green-to-Gold program, you will incur an additional service obligation depending on which option you take. That additional obligation (which can be up to eight years) would be added onto your SLRP obligation of three years. That is quite a commitment unless you plan to make a career of the military. It would also mean you would not start acquiring GI Bill eligibility until your Green-to-Gold and SLRP obligations had been served.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can I take a trade with the GI Bill?

A: For right now, it depends somewhat on which GI Bill you have. The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is much more liberal as far as paying for trade training verses the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the only way it will maybe pay for a trade course is if the course is taught at a school also teaching degree programs, but even that is not a guarantee.

The MGIB will pay for trade, technical, licensure and certification courses regardless where they are taught, as long as the school is VA-approved.

However, with the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, that will change starting on August 1st. From that point on, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will function more like the MGIB in that it will start paying for trade courses at  all VA-approved schools.

If you qualify for both GI Bills, there are several things to consider. One, if you have not used any of your MGIB benefits yet, and you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, once you use up all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, you will get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back.

If you used up part of your MGIB benefits and then transferred to the New GI Bill, then you would get a prorated amount back. If you used up all your MGIB benefits and then switched, you could get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, but no contribution back.

I know you are planning to take a trade course right now, but these are all things to think about in the future.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I started the semester with three classes for my field of study and three general classes. At the beginning of the semester, I was going to drop all three classes in my field of study, because the classes were self-paced and I was having trouble learning the material. But, I could only drop two of the classes because if I dropped all three, I would lose my benefits as I would only have six credits.

The one class I have left in my field of study is still giving me problems and I don’t want to fail. I don’t really have any mitigating circumstances. Now, I have three weeks until the last day to drop classes for my school. What would happen to my VA benefits if I dropped the class? Would I have to pay all of my housing allowance back to the VA from when I started school to the end of the semester?

A: The way the VA works is you would only have to pay back your housing allowance starting when you had dropped down to the half-time point. As you stated, in your case that was 6 credits. As longs as you were taking at least 7 credits, you were authorized the full Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

However, with the passage of the GI Bill 2.0, that will change starting on August 1st. From that point forward, students’ housing allowance amounts will be directly tied to the number of credits they are taking. For example, if you were taking 7 credits, and your school considered 12 credits to be full-time, then in theory, you would get 7/12ths or 58% of the full housing allowance. In reality, you would get 60% of the full housing allowance as the VA rounds up to the nearest tenth.

As far as tuition, if you drop a class within the school’s official drop period, you shouldn’t be required to pay back anything, however, if you drop a class outside of that timeframe, you could have to pay back the VA. It really depends on if the reason you had to drop was due to mitigating (not within your control) or non-mitigating (within your control). As you noted, your reason is non-mitigating.

The VA also has a first-time/one-time policy where you can drop up to six credits once without any questions asked and not have to repay anything. If you have not dropped classes before, you might ask your VA Certifying Official about this policy.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:  Can I get my refund back? But, I hope that’s not the case. I really want my son to use my benefits if I can’t.

A: First, let’s talk about the refund. There is only one way to get your Montgomery GI Bill $1,200 contribution back (or at least that is what I think you are referring to as a refund). You would have to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and switch to it from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) still with all your MGIB benefits left to use. Once you finished using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you would get your full $1,200 contribution back included with your last housing allowance payment.

If you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with only some of your MGIB benefits left, then you would get a lesser prorated amount based on how many months you transferred over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you do not qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you can’t get a refund back.

If you do not qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then you have the MGIB. Your son couldn’t use that GI bill either as it never had a dependent transfer option. If you have the New GI Bill, you would still have to be serving, have served for at least six years and agree to serve for an additional four years, if you wanted to make a transfer of benefits. If you are already separated from the military, then you can’t make a transfer request either. Rules, rules and more rules!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Can my daughter use any of my husband’s GI Bill to help her with her school loan repayment or to pay for the school she is attending now?

A: The way you worded the question “my daughter use any of my husband’s . . .” raises the question if she is also your husband’s daughter. If she isn’t his biological daughter, or he never legally adopted her, then no, she can’t receive dependent entitlements from his Post 9/11 GI Bill.

If she is a biological or legally adopted dependent, then he could make a transfer request provided he is still serving and meets the requirements of having served at least six years and agrees to serve an additional four years.

Of course, if your husband is not still serving, or doesn’t have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he could not make a transfer. The way Congress wrote the rules, a servicemember has to be still serving on or after August 1, 2009 to make a request. If your husband has the Montgomery GI Bill, then he would not be able to make a request as that GI Bill never had a dependent transfer option.

As far as using your husband’s GI Bill to pay for your daughter’s school loan, he could not do that as the Student Loan Repayment program and GI Bill are two separate programs and money does not directly cross from one program to the other one.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband just retired from the PHS after 22 years of service. He would like to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits to our son who is a freshman in college. Do you have to transfer the benefit before you retire or can he do it now in anticipation of approval of bill in Aug 2011?

A: If the PHS rules follow the military side of transferring the Post 9/11 GI Bill, he would have had to make the transfer before he retired, which he could not do due to the fact that he retired before the legislation allowing him to make a transfer took effect – a catch 22.

On the military side, to make a transfer request, the servicemember had to serve a minimum of six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve an additional four years. If the servicemember was retirement eligible, then no additional service time was required as long as the transfer was complete before the person retired.

Many 20-year plus veterans retiring before August 1, 2009 were eligible for the transfer option but because they had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009”, they were excluded from making a transfer request. However, for them, a recent legislation was introduced to allow them to make a transfer request (provides the bill passes – the last bill never made it to a vote and expired.)

Your husband might want to contact his legislators and ask they include retired PHS personnel in HR bill 1130 and ask for their support of this bill. I doubt if anyone has thought about the new legislation going into effect on August 1st and tying it to HR1130.