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If Neither My Father Nor My Siblings Ever Used His GI Bill Benefits, Could I Use Them?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hi, my name is Jalyn and my father is a veteran. I don’t think he has ever used his GI Bill benefits, nor has any of my siblings, so would it be possible for me to use them? I will graduate from high school on 5/23/13 and I plan on attending Alabama A&M University in the fall, but the tuition is a little too much for my mom so can I have his benefits? I’ll be anticipating your response, thank you in advance.

A: Jaylan, I would love for you to have your father’s GI Bill benefits if it was up to me, but it isn’t and here is why. First, it depends on which GI Bill your father has. If he has the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), he would not have been able to transfer benefits to you because it never had a transfer-to-dependents option to it. The only thing he could really do with it is use it himself.

If he has the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it does have a transfer option where he could have given the benefits to your mom, and/or you and your siblings. But he can’t now because when Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, they put in the servicemember had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request; once retired, it was too late.

But don’t let that daunt your college aspirations. If you want to go to school bad enough, you will find a way to do it. My recommendation is to start by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application and see what you can get in student financial aid; it may surprise you.

Also your college may give out its own scholarships. Do some research as far as scholarships and grants that are available; apply for everything you can.
The nice thing about scholarships and grants are they do not have to be repaid; loans do, so be careful when taking them out so you don’t rack up too much debt.

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