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Can My First Daughter Use the Hazelwood Act and My Other Two the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am eligible for both the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Hazelwood Act. I am currently on active duty and will retire in one year. I have three daughters. The first will start at Texas A&M in the Fall 2014. What are my options for funding her education while reserving some for the next two children? Specifically, can I use the Hazelwood exemption first, even though I am still active duty? Can I save the Post 9/11 GI Bill for daughter number 2 or 3 in case they opt for a private school or out of state school? Thanks for the help.
Cheers! — Rust

A: No you can’t use your Hazelwood Act first, because to do so, you need a DD214 showing you have been discharged and you don’t have that yet. At the least, make a transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to each daughter – at least one month to daughters 2 and 3 and nine months to daughter number 1 before you get out. Now daughter number 1 is covered for the first year.

By giving each one at least one month of benefits, now you have the flexibility to move your transferred benefits around after you retire. If you don’t give daughters 2 and 3 at least one month of benefits, you could not give them any after retiring.

You have 150 hours of Hazelwood Act benefits you can transfer, however normally you can use Hazelwood Act benefits only after using up all of your Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you wanted to keep it fair among all three daughters what about giving daughter number one 28 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and daughters 2 and 3 each 4 months. Then give each daughters 2 and 3 seventy-five hours of Hazelwood Act benefits. That way each daughter gets a total of 28 months of benefits between the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Hazelwood Act.

Granted, dollar-wise it would not be fair as daughter number one would end up with more benefits financially. With some thought, you can probably work out a fairer breakdown, but at least this gives you something to think about.

And maybe daughter number one only wants to get a two-year degree in which you would have 4 additional months to divide up among the other two daughters. The key is to give each daughter some Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while you are still serving and then revoke and reallocate as necessary once you are out and they are in school.

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