For many military-connected students, one of the main benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is having the ability to transfer a portion or all of their educational benefits to their dependent family members. Certainly, being able to give this benefit to one’s children and provide for their college education in the future is a good thing, especially with rising tuition costs.
Over the past ten years, having worked with thousands of military-connected students, I have encountered hundreds of servicemembers who have asked me the question; “Should I transfer my GI Bill benefits to my kids”? My answer is always the same; “It depends”.
It depends. Do you have the college education you will need in civilian life once you leave the service?
In Career Bootcamp I we discussed Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, and the need to think long term after you leave the service. Will you need a specific degree program? Will you need a Masters Degree or special credentialing in your new career? If you weren’t able to complete your degree or obtain the credential while still serving, using tuition assistance, then you will need your GI Bill benefits in order to make sure you are prepared for the next chapter of your life.
It depends. Military Tuition Assistance may not always be available.
Let’s face it, the DoD is facing extreme budgetary constraints, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The service branches have made adjustments to their tuition assistance programs in order to meet their budgetary constraints. For example, the Army has reduced the number of credit hours per year they will fund from 18 semester hours down to 16. This means Soldiers are only able to take five, 3-semester hour courses in a federal fiscal year. This equates to only a semester per year of course work.
It depends. Will the GI Bill be the same when your kids are college age?
This warrants some examination. What might the GI Bill program look like in 5, or 10, or 15 years.? Taking a look historically, military education benefits have been modified since their incepting, increasing and losing value as the country requires more and less from their military.? Currently, we are in a period of transition as we draw down the strength of our military. Since its roll out in 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill has already been subject to numerous modifications and adjustments, changes that affect the dependent children of veterans.? Nothing is sacred when it comes to military and veteran budgets.
Though eligible servicemembers can transfer their benefits to their children, remember the purpose of the GI Bill. The main purpose of the GI Bill is to prepare veterans in making the transition back to civilian life. If you have not been able to do that while still serving, then you will need your GI Bill benefits when you leave the service.
So, should you transfer your GI Bill benefits to your dependents? It depends!