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Can a Stepchild Use a GI Bill? Transferring GI Bill Benefits

Benefits under the GI Bill assist in paying for college, graduate school, and training programs. Further, GI Bill benefits may be transferred to another family member. But what about a stepchild? Can a stepchild use a GI Bill?

A stepchild can use a GI Bill providing an eligible recipient of the GI Bill transfers the GI Bill benefits to the stepchild. Those eligible to receive GI Bill benefits are the recipient’s children, their spouse, or any combination of their spouse and child or children.

A military member who has served on or after Aug. 1, 2009, who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Forever GI Bill), and falls under certain guidelines may transfer their GI Bill benefits to another family member. Read on for more specifics.

Family greeting military father home from duty.

Can I Transfer My Post 9/11 GI Bill to My Stepchild?

Military members who have served on or after August 1, 2009, who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill (Forever GI Bill) and who meets the following criteria may transfer their GI Bill benefits to their children or spouse, including stepchildren.

  • Has served in the Armed Forces for at least six years on the day they opt to transfer education benefits and commits to serve in the Armed Forces for four more years from the date of the election.
  • Has at least ten years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of election, is precluded by either standard policy (service or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.

Service personnel with fewer than 16 years of cumulative active duty or chosen reserve service, as applicable, were no longer eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits as of July 12th, 2019.

There were previously no limitations on when military members might transfer educational advantages to their family members. Other than that, all transferability approvals remain the same.

This effectively implies that service members will have to begin the GI Bill benefit transfer procedure between the ages of six and sixteen.

What Benefits Can My Qualified Dependents Get?

If the DoD approves the Transfer of Entitlement (TOE), your spouse or dependent children can apply for up to 36 months of benefits, and may be able to get money for:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers a considerable educational benefit. The GI Bill covers tuition and fees, a monthly living allowance, and a textbook and supplies for up to 36 months.

The GI Bill dates back to World War II, when the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was passed to give veterans education and training, as well as house loan guarantees and other benefits.

The GI Bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 and went into force the following year, after being revised multiple times to help veterans of war and peacetime.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, sometimes known as the “Forever GI Bill,” modified portions of the GI Bill in 2017.

Through the Marine Gunnery John David Fry Scholarship Program, children or spouses of military personnel who died in the line of duty on or after 9/11 may be able to use the GI Bill to pursue their education.

Children between the ages of 18 and 33, as well as spouses who have not remarried for 15 years following the service member’s death, are eligible for these benefits at 100%.

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How Do I Transfer My GI Benefits?

Providing you’re still on active duty, you’ll request to transfer, change, or revoke a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) through milConnect. You can’t apply for a TOE through the link below, courtesy of VA.gov.
Transfer, change or revoke a TOE

Your family members may qualify for benefits if the TOE is approved by the Department of Defense.

By filing a formal request to VA through milConnect, you can adjust the number of months transferred or withdraw the TOE.

The application procedure is straightforward, especially if completed online.

The form will request information about your military past, educational history, and desired school. Make sure you have your Social Security and bank account details accessible as well.

While tuition and fees are paid to the institutions directly, housing and textbook allowances are paid to you directly.

If you’re worried about the procedure, you may also speak with your college’s school certifying authority.

This individual usually works in the registrar’s office or the financial aid department at the school and may help you with the application.

You might want to explore transferring the GI Bill to your dependents if you’ve already completed your degree or don’t envision yourself going back to school.

To be eligible for transfer, you must have completed at least six years of service and be able to complete four more if the transfer is approved by the Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense suggested capping the transfer option after 16 years of service in early 2019. However, lawmakers in Congress added wording in the annual defense authorization bill in December to prevent the policy from taking effect.

If you are a Purple Heart recipient on active service, disregard anything above; you can transfer your GI Bill benefits to family members at any time.

When the GI Bill payments are passed to a dependent kid, they must be 18 or younger, or under 23 in certain situations for eligible programs. The dependant must be 18 years old or have completed high school to be eligible for the GI Bill.

The process of transferring and using the GI Bill benefits is pretty straightforward. Let’s go over some of the basics.

Eligibility Certificate

The VA will send you a certificate of eligibility once you’ve applied for benefits, detailing exactly what you’re entitled to. When you enroll, you’ll provide this paperwork to your school.

If your tuition payments are ever late, your certificate of eligibility serves as documentation that payment is on the way, which means your school can’t charge you late fees or impose other limitations if you have an unpaid balance on your account due to no fault of your own.

The VA may take some time to grant you a certificate of eligibility. In the meanwhile, you may keep track of things by logging onto your eBenefits account.

What Will Be the GI Benefit Amount?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers tuition and fees, as well as a monthly living allowance and a textbook and supply stipend.

The GI Bill pays all tuition and fees at the in-state rate for students attending public colleges and universities, but it may not have the same reach at a private or for-profit institution.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, the national maximum at such institutions will be $24,476.79, and it will normally climb somewhat each year.

Check to discover whether your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon program if the GI Bill does not cover the entire cost of your education.

This is an agreement between schools and the VA to divide non-GI Bill school expenditures, decreasing or eliminating the amount students must pay themselves.

Currently, the program is only available to veterans and surviving dependents of military members, but it will be expanded to include active-duty personnel in August 2022.

Many colleges, including elite Ivy League schools, engage in this initiative. Check the interactive map on VA’s website to discover if your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

What Is the GI Bill Housing Allowance?

The amount of your monthly housing stipend is determined by the proportion of benefits you are entitled to and the number of courses you are enrolled in.

The VA calculates how much you’ll get based on the Department of Defense Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, rates.

Currently, this is the cost of living wherever your school’s main campus is situated, not where you reside at the rate of an E5 with dependents in that location.

The overall amount you receive is unaffected by your rank.

Housing allowances under the Forever GI Bill, on the other hand, are decided by the location of the institution where a student takes the most classes.

As a result, if you attend classes at a satellite campus located miles or even states away from the main campus, your monthly stipend will better represent your living expenses.

The VA plans to implement this in December 2019.

The VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool has already done a lot of the work for you. Simply search for your school by name or kind, then click on the results to see how much money you’d get each month.

You will only earn half of the national BAH average if you are pursuing a degree exclusively online. This works out to $894.50 per month for the 2019-2020 school year.

If you can, take at least one class in person, according to some experts, so you may combine the convenience of online learning with the financial benefits of attending classes on campus.

You are not eligible for this portion of the benefit if you are in school half-time or less, or if you are a dependant utilizing GI Bill benefits that have been transferred to you from a military member.

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