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Is It OK to Start School Before My Husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Transfer Request to Me Is Approved?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am an AF Military Spouse looking to get my Master’s Degree. My husband has applied to Transfer the Educational Benefits of Post 9/11 GI Bill and they are taking longer than expected. I’m extremely eager to start school, is it possible I can apply, begin my studies, and they’ll retroactively pay if it’s approved within the next 60 days?

A: Yes it can take awhile for the VA to approve a Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits request; it can take 8 to 10 weeks before you would see an approval. He needs to keep going back to the TEB website where he made his transfer request and look for a status change from “Transfer Pending” to “Transfer Approved”.

Once that happens, you need to submit VA Form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that you will need when registering as a GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Personally I would refrain from starting school until I have my COE in hand and here is why. What you would be essentially doing is spending benefits that you may not yet have at the time. Until they are approved and you have a COE in hand, you really don’t have them, so you would be “spending money you don’t yet have.”

While the VA does pay benefits up to one -year back, you first have to have had the benefits during the period you are claiming. In your case, you may or may not depending when the VA approves your husband’s request.

Otherwise you are risking the VA disapproving your claim for reimbursement and you would be stuck paying the bill out of pocket. If you are O.K. with that, then go for it, but if it were me, I’d wait until I had my COE.

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