Poll: Change GI Bill Transfer Benefits?

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Since late last year we’ve been telling you about proposed changes to transferred GI Bill benefits that would impact how much housing allowance the children of service member could receive while using their parent’s education benefit.

And we want to know what you think about it.

First, a quick reminder of how transferability works. Right now, once you hit six years of service, you are eligible to transfer your GI Bill to your spouse or kids as long as you agree to serve an additional four years. You must be able to serve that additional four, unless you’ve already hit 10 years. In that case, if at any point after 10 you want to transfer but aren’t allowed to stay in four, you can get out of it by serving the max that you can.

Spouses can start using the benefit as soon as it is transferred, but don’t receiving the housing allowance portion if the service member is still on active duty. They have 15 years from the date the service members gets out to use it, or it’s gone.

Children, on the other hand, cannot start using it until the service member hits 10 years and until after they have graduated high school or hit 18-years-old. Right now they do get the housing allowance regardless of whether or not their service member is still in, and they have until they hit age 26 to cash in on the transferred benefit.

So what are they trying to change? We already told you all about this change when it was passed without any notable fight early this year. The passed measure would cut the housing allowance in half for future child-transferees of the GI Bill. Lawmakers have a whole list of things the savings would pay for, including other expansions to the GI Bill itself. Those were two Fry Scholarship expansions for spouses of troops killed in action after September 11, 2001, and a measure allowing Guard and Reserve members on medical hold from injuries received on active duty to earn their GI Bill faster than has traditionally been permitted.

If it already passed, what’s the fuss? A bevy of veteran groups, lawmakers and even presidential candidates have started fighting the change over the last week, saying that it is an attack on the GI Bill. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America started using the hashtag #DefendTheGIBill. And it’ not too late to save it — the president has not signed anything into law.

What you can do? Share your opinion with your lawmakers, for sure, but my biggest advice is this: if you are eligible, transfer your GI Bill now. Yes, now. You can always undo the transfer and eliminate your ADSO if you need to, and if you transfer now you’ll be grandfathered into whatever rules they end up with. Star the transfer process here.

What do you think?

We want to know what you think about this whole thing. Should they change it? Should they not? Are changes OK if it means that they are paying for other veteran related things? It’s not like they are saying the savings is going to fund the construction of a random factory in some lawmaker’s hometown. Or is any shrinking of any part of the benefit — even a part of it that is meant to be used as a retention tool like the transfer option — a breaking of a promise?

You tell us by taking this poll — and we’ll give you the results soon:

Fill out my online form.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.