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Could My Husband Transfer His Post 9/11 GI Bill to Me With Less Than Four Year Left on His Enlistment?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has 12 years of service as an active duty Marine. He plans to do “at least” 20 years in the Marine Corps. He would like for me to use his Post 911 GI Bill to complete my Master’s degree. He is currently half-way through a 4-year enlistment and is not eligible to reenlist for another year. Do I have to postpone taking advantage of this benefit for a whole year since he doesn’t have a 4-year enlistment currently? He was not told about this when he reenlisted 2 years ago. He also has a “letter of intent to reenlist” signed by his CO. His command is fully aware that he is a career Marine and has every intention to reenlist. They are even “grooming” him for a 1stSgt position. I had read that if a service member does not complete the 4 year enlistment after taking advantage of these benefits they may be liable for repaying the costs of tuition etc. Why would that not also be the case in our situation? Any additional information or assistance you can offer would be very much appreciated.

A: Unfortunately rules are rules and one of the stipulations is that he has to have at least four years left on his enlistment at the time of his transfer request. The other two are currently serving and having served for at least six years – both of which he meets and exceeds.

In the end you most likely would have to wait until his reenlistment window opens up and he can extend. Usually letters of intent to reenlist and even his career focus do not meet the rules of having at least four years left on his enlistment at the time of his transfer request.

What usually happens in the case of not fulfilling a four-year commitment as part of a transfer of benefits is that the recipient loses whatever remaining unused portion of their entitlement that they have left. The VA usually does not go after reimbursement, but cancels further Post 9/11 GI Bill use of transferred benefits.

That could be the case in your situation, but the VA is most likely not going to put you into that situation until he has at least a four-year enlistment remaining at the time he make his transfer of benefits request.

I know you want to get started to work on your master’s degree, but most likely you are going to have to wait.

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