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Can I Use My Spouse’s Post 9/11 GI Bill If He Is Not Using It?

Q: If I am married to someone in the Army Reserve and he joined the Army in 2008 and won’t be out until 2014, would I be able to use his GI Bill if he is not using it? Would it pay for the whole tuition?

A: At this point, he would not be eligible to transfer benefits because he has not served enough time. The amount of time required for Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility is different than the amount of time required to qualify for the transfer option. To qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, all he needs is 90 days of eligible time for 36 months of eligibility at the minimum benefit of 40%; three years of eligible time will get him 100% of the benefits.

However, to make a transfer request to you, he needs to first serve at least six years on active duty and have at least four years left on his enlistment at that time. As you can see, the service branches use the access to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer option as a reenlistment incentive tool.

So he will not be eligible for the transfer option until the end of his first enlistment, provided he reenlists for an least an additional four years. If he doesn’t reenlist, he can use his GI Bill benefits once he is out, but he would not be able to pass them on to you.

One last point to keep in mind. If he does reach a point where he can make a transfer request to you, he has to make the request while he is still on active duty; once separated, it is too late (at least those are the rules today – who knows what they will be in 2014).

As far as tuition starting August 1st, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay the full amount for an undergraduate program at a public school. Foreign and private schools will be capped at $17,500 per year. Right now, the VA pays tuition up to the in-state maximum for the state where the school is located. Under the GI Bill 2.0, in-state maximums were eliminated.

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