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Can I Register for Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits at Any Time?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am service academy graduate. I have completed my initial 5-year obligation, but have not reached 8 years of service yet. I know I can not transfer or use my 9/11 GI Bill benefits yet, but can I register with the VA for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits now?

You can register for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits once you meet the minimum eligibility requirement of 90-days of active duty service, but unless you plan on using Tuition Top-Up along with Tuition Assistance (TA), I would wait. If you register now, it will show your current level of eligibility, which will not be accurate once you get to your 8-year mark. If you do not plan on using your benefits anytime soon, then I would wait and register either around the time you get out or after you are out. There really isn’t any hurry as you have 15 years from your discharge date to use your 36 months of entitlements.

Unless you decide to extend your enlistment for another four years, you won’t have enough time in to qualify for the transfer-to-dependents option. That requirement requires at least six years of active duty service and agree to serve an additional four years. If you decide to stay long enough to get the transfer option, then you would have to make your transfer while you are still on active duty. Once you are out, it is too late.

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