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What Is the Best Plan to Both Use My GI Bills and Transfer Benefits to My Son?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has served 12 years active duty Army since 2001 and is eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He has just received his AA degree using TA and would like to continue his education to work towards a bachelor’s degree. He is switching from active duty Army to Army reserve within the next 4 months. We currently have one son (4 years old) and were wondering if he should switch his Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill or if he should keep it as is. He doesn’t know if he will get TA once in the Reserves or if that is just an active duty benefit. If he doesn’t get TA, he wants to use the Montgomery GI Bill or Post 9/11 GI Bill to finish his degree and then transfer the remaining money to our son. How would he go about this and what is the best plan for this situation.

A: I can tell you that if he switched GI Bills now, all he will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the same number of months as he has left under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). He would not get the additional 12 months of entitlement he would have gotten if he would have first exhausted his MGIB and then switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m not saying this is a bad thing; it is just something to be aware of and to factor into his decision as far as which GI Bill to use.

He can get Tuition Assistance (TA) in the Army Reserve, so nothing should change in that respect as far as using his Montgomery GI Bill. However, without knowing just what he has left for MGIB entitlement, it is hard to determine with GI Bill would be best for him to use.

On one hand, he could use up all of his MGIB and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and give his son the additional 12 months of benefits he would get by transferring GI Bills. But depending on how many months of entitlement he has left under the MGIB, it might be better to switch right after he gets his bachelor’s degree, if he ends up with more than 12 months of MGIB entitlement left.

What he needs to know is that he has to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill while he is still serving regardless, if he wants to make a transfer of benefits to his son, as the MGIB does not have a transfer of benefits option, nor can he make a transfer request once out of the Reserves.

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