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At 6 years TIS, Airmen can transfer education benefits

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Eligible Airmen may be able to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member, but should not wait until they're ready to retire, separate or until their dependent children are ready to go to college, Air Force Personnel Center officials said.

Because the Air Force program is tied to retention, only those on active duty after Aug. 1, 2009 are eligible to transfer benefits. Airmen must also have at least six years of service (active duty and/or selected Reserve) on the date of election and agree to serve four additional years.

"The old reduced-service commitment periods expired July 31, and now everyone who applies for transfer of benefits will incur a four-year, active-duty service commitment," said Bruce Houseman, the AFPC Education Services and Benefits chief.

Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits vary in amount depending on the member's aggregated service after the initial eligibility date (Sept. 9, 2011). Members who intend to use the benefit for their own education have up to 15 years after retirement or separation to do so.

"Airmen have a tremendous opportunity in the provision to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their dependents," Houseman said. "A college education is an enormous expense, so Airmen who take advantage of this benefit can save thousands of dollars."

Since taking advantage of the benefit will incur a four-year, active-duty service commitment, Airmen who want to transfer benefits should not wait until they are nearing separation or retirement, he explained.

Airmen who want to transfer all or some of their benefits must also understand the application process and ensure they accomplish required tasks on time.

In most instances, Airmen just need to log into the Virtual Military Personnel Flight to complete the statement of understanding, and some enlisted members may be required to extend or reenlist before they can sign the statement of understanding.

If a member requires retainability, the virtual MPF will display retainability requirements, which Airmen can print and take to their military personnel section. Enlisted members do not have to wait until they are within 90 days of their date of separation to extend or reenlist under the transfer of education benefits program.

For instructions, view the Transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits Guide here.

Another common problem occurs for applicants who transfer all of their benefits to only one dependent.

Benefits are transferred in month increments, so an Airman with 36 months of education benefits can transfer all 36 months to a single dependent, transfer benefits equally among all dependents, or even transfer only a month to each, as they choose. As long as the transfer occurs before the member separates or retires, they can adjust the number of months each dependent receives if something in their life changes.

"If you transfer all your benefits to one child and that child chooses to not use them - for whatever reason - you won't be able to transfer them to anyone else once you separate or retire from the Air Force," Houseman said. "Your only option will be to retrieve your benefits and use them yourself, which you can always do later anyway. If you want to make sure one of your dependents can later use the benefit, we suggest you transfer at least one month to each dependent."

Eligible Airmen can apply to transfer their education benefit through the MilConnect website, or through the virtual MPF self-service actions section, accessible via myPers or the Air Force Portal.

"If you decide to apply, remember that all actions including submitting the signed statement of understanding must be accomplished within 30 days of applying," Houseman said. "If you don't complete all actions, your application will be rejected and you will have to start over later. The active-duty service commitment date is not retroactive to the first application attempt, so if you decide to reapply a year later, that's when your ADSC will begin."

For more information about the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transferring education benefits, go to myPers at https://mypers.af.mil, and enter "Post 9/11 GI Bill" in the search window, or visit MilConnect.

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