U.S. military service members who elect to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a dependent will be required to serve an additional four years, according to a military policy change enacted Aug. 1.
Service members, before the GI Bill change, were able to transfer their government benefits to a spouse, for example, in exchange for zero to three years of additional military service, depending on when they became eligible for retirement and met the 20-year service mark, according to an Army News Service article.
The transfer policy shift means that even service members who have a quarter century under their belt will incur the four years of additional service if GI Bill benefits are used by a dependent.
In the case that a service member serves additional time in the military in hopes of transferring GI Bill benefits to a family member, and is for some reason unable to serve that extra time, the member might be required to pay back the military benefits, according to the Army News Service.
Officials from campuses in the Washington, D.C., area said the changes wouldn't have a significant impact on the way schools administer GI Bill benefits or work with veterans.
"This change is really not a change at all, as public law has established," said Jim Sweizer, vice president of military programs at American Military University, which has an administrative office in Manassas, Va. "[The] Post-9/11 GI Bill provided for a four-year phase-in period of the transferability option to allow those close to retirement the opportunity to participate."
The change will not impact military veterans, according to Sweizer, because they were never eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits to spouses and other family members.
Robert Ludwig, assistant vice president for media relations at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), said the GI Bill shift would require some steps in educating those impacted.
"Very little will change in our handling GI Bill benefits," he said. "We do expect, however, the need to provide military spouses with greater awareness of other sources of financial aid and support."
Ludwig said UMUC officials have not heard from service members with questions or concerns about the most recent changes to the transferability rules.
Spouses who receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits can use those benefits any time within 15 years of the service member's retirement. Children of the service member must use the transferred benefits between 18 and 26 years of age, according to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' fact sheet.
Service members who wish to transfer their GI Bill benefits can visit www.gibill.va.gov.