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Should I Sign Up Now for the Post 9/11 GI Bill While I’m Still Serving?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am currently on active duty with 18 years of service. I have two children who will not be ready for college for a few more years, but I am currently looking into information on the GI Bill for them. I have been told by other service members to go ahead and sign up in case something happens to me. So I am writing to see if I indeed should sign up now, and if so what forms or where do I start. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Doug

A: Doug, I would also encourage you to sign up now, but not for the same reason. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill you have to meet three service requirements:

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

Because you have already served 18 years and you are currently serving, you have met the first two requirements. Once you are out, you can no longer make a transfer request (although you can still move around entitlement that was previously transferred to your spouse or dependents while you were still serving.)

To meet the last one, you have to have four years remaining on your enlistment at the time you make your transfer request. So once you have extended to have at least four years left on your enlistment, go to the milConnect website and in particular to the Transfer of Benefits Section.

Once your request is approved, and your kids are about ready to start college, each of them would have to get their Certificate of Eligibility (COE) by going to the eBenefits website and submitting VA Form 22-1990e (or at least that is the procedure right now. By the time they are high school seniors and getting ready to start school, the process may be different, but there will still be a process to get their COEs.).

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