Have you thought about gifting the GI Bill for spouse use? Did you even know that this was a possibility? There are a lot of options for military households when it comes to GI Bill use. You can gift it to spouses, children, or just use it for yourself. There are many rules and regulations surrounding GI Bill use and transfers thereof. Find out how to gift your GI Bill for spouse use and everything you need to know right here by clicking on the links below.
- What Is the GI Bill?
- How Does the GI Bill Work?
- How Much Does the GI Bill Cover?
- GI Bill Online Classes
- How To Apply for Online GI Bill Benefits
- Online Education Options
- Online Colleges and Universities
- Moving Tips
What Is the GI Bill?
First thing’s first: What is the GI Bill? The GI Bill is a set of benefits that allow qualified military members to cover payments for a wide variety of educational costs, career training, and more. There are several GI Bill programs that cover different benefits and allow different types of Servicemembers and relatives to access benefit money. For example, you have:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
- Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance
Servicemembers can use GI Bill benefits, or gift them, to pay for undergraduate and graduate degrees, some foreign programs, tuition assistance, non-college degree programs, co-op training, work study assistance, online college, and more.
If you’ve landed here, you’re probably also wondering, “Can a spouse use a GI Bill?” The answer is yes. In fact, both spouses and dependents can be gifted your GI Bill and all the benefits thereof. Learn more about the process of gifting your GI Bill for spouse use further below.
How Does the GI Bill Work?
You have to apply to use GI Bill benefits and fill out even more paperwork if you plan on granting the GI Bill for spouse use. Eligibility is slightly different depending on which version of the GI Bill you’re planning on applying for.
GI Bill Eligibility
Most people will be eligible to receive at least a portion of the Post-9/11 GI Bill as active duty Servicemembers. You may be eligible if you have served at least 90 days on active duty, whether that time was continuous or not, after September 10th, 2001. If you haven’t served at least 90 days on active duty, you may still be eligible through one of the other requirements for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
If you (or your spouse) served less than 36 months, you will not be eligible for the full benefits of the GI Bill. Based on how much time you’ve served, here is the percentage of GI Bill benefits you can expect to receive:
- 30-36 months: 90% of GI Bill benefits
- 24-30 months: 80% of GI Bill benefits
- 18-24 months: 70% of GI Bill benefits
- 6-18 months: 60% of GI Bill benefits
- 90 days-6 months: 50% of GI Bill benefits
With the Post-9/11 GI Bill specifically, you or your spouse can receive funding for up to 36 months on tuition, money for housing, money for books, or moving costs to relocate closer to a school.
Does the GI Bill Expire?
This depends on when your service ended. For some people, your benefits do expire. Pay attention because you don’t want to lose your GI Bill benefits, especially if you plan on gifting your GI Bill for spouse use or dependent use in the future.
If you left the service before January 1st, 2013, you will only have 15 years to use your GI Bill from your final separation date before it expires. (SEC. 112.a.2.1)
If your service ended on or after January 1st, 2013, your benefits DO NOT expire. This is due to the Forever GI Bill – a new law that entitles you to your GI Bill benefits forever. This is a very new update to the GI Bill, so systems and paperwork are all still being updated to reflect the change.
How Much Does the GI Bill Cover?
Depending on what you’re using the GI Bill for, it can cover different costs. Here are some common costs and their limits for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Tuition and fees: The maximum benefit covers the full cost of public, in-state tuition and fees (excluding out-of-state, private, and foreign schools). If you do not qualify for the maximum benefit, you can check the current rates here.
- Housing: This will be based on your BAH and the cost of living where your school is located. This is only applicable if you’re going to school more than half time.
- Books and supplies: Up to $1,000 per school year.
- Relocation closer to school: One-time payment of $500.
GI Bill Calculator
If your spouse is looking into several different institutions, it helps to know which ones will be covered with the GI Bill and how much you can expect to be paid for. This GI Bill calculator and comparison tool from VA.gov can help you find schools in your area that will allow your spouse to make the most of your GI Bill benefits.
GI Bill Online BAH
If you’re looking for help finding a new home, the GI Bill can help with that. This money is similar to the BAH, but it is usually called MHA (or Monthly Housing Allowance) when looking at the GI Bill.
The amount you receive will generally be based on where your school is located, but what if you’re attending an online school? Online institutions are not excluded from GI Bill benefits. The amount of your MHA will usually be the amount of the BAH in the school’s location. However, for fully online schooling, the amount you receive will be half of the national average BAH.
Current BAH for Those Using GI Bill Online
Right now, the average BAH in the U.S. is $1,833 per month. Split in half, that means that people going to an online college looking to use GI Bill benefits would currently receive $916.50 per month.
GI Bill Online Classes
In this day and age, GI Bill online classes are looking better and better as more instructors and institutions get a hold of modern technology while everyone works to steer clear of COVID-19. If your spouse plans on taking classes less than half time (or less than six credit hours per semester), they may not be eligible for GI Bill BAH benefits. If your spouse is planning on attending at least one hybrid or in-person course, they will be eligible for the FULL BAH amount, not just half.
How To Apply for Online GI Bill Benefits
Applying for online GI Bill benefits and in-person GI Bill benefits will pretty much be the same process. The difference will lie in if you plan on gifting your GI Bill for spouse use or not.
Here’s what you’ll need to have on-hand before you start any application:
- Your Social Security number
- Bank account direct deposit information
- Education and military history
- Basic information about the school you’re looking into (or currently attending), such as their address and phone number
For Military Members
If you’re ready to transfer your online or in-person GI Bill benefits to your spouse, you can visit this page for the exact steps you’ll need to take. In short, you have to sign into milConnect, go to the Benefits menu, and go to Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB). You should see a list of family members with their eligibility status. You can follow the instructions on the screen to complete your transfer.
After the transfer is complete, your spouse can apply for benefits online, by mail, in person, or with the help of a dedicated professional.
For more information, you can reach out to the GI Bill education number.
Call 1 (888) 442-4551 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For Military Spouses
If you are receiving the benefits on behalf of your spouse, your military spouse will first need to ensure the transfer of benefits is complete. Afterward, you can visit the VA’s application landing page for GI Bill benefits, click “find your education benefits form,” and select the correct option (whether you’re applying to get a new benefit, updating your school, or extending old benefits). You will then be asked a series of questions to send you to the right form.
If you’re applying for a new benefit gifted to you by your spouse, here is the order you need to answer the questions in:
- Are you applying for a benefit or updating your program or place of training? Applying for a new benefit.
- Are you a Veteran or service member claiming a benefit based on your own service? No.
- Is your sponsor deceased, 100% permanently disabled, MIA, or a POW? (Usually) No.
- Has your sponsor transferred their benefits to you? Yes.
The application should only take about 15 minutes to complete.
Online Education Options
Your online education options are pretty extensive. As long as the institution isn’t private or foreign, you could get the maximum use of your benefits. Make sure you or your spouse is enrolling in seven credit hours or more to make full use of what’s available to you.
Your online education options include:
- Vocational education
- Test fees
- Flight training
- Entrepreneurship training
- Co-op training
- Work study
- Veteran Technology Education (VET TEC)
- Associate’s degrees
- Bachelor’s degrees
- Master’s degrees
- Doctoral degrees
- Anything else listed in your Statement of Benefits
Quick Tips for Online College
1. Organize, Organize, Organize
It takes better time-management skills and work ethic to learn outside of the traditional classroom environment. Don’t underestimate the importance of organization. Get post-it notes, a planner, folders for every class, and an organizational tray to keep on top of everything.
2. Set Aside a Dedicated Learning Space
It’s all too easy to work from your bed, especially if you’re pre- or post-PCS-move, but making your own educational space in your home will put you in the correct mindset for learning every day (and also allow you to both physically and mentally leave that space at the end of the day).
3. Schedule Virtual Meetings With Your Professors
You may not be able to visit your professors for in-person office hours, so make sure to keep up with them by scheduling Zoom/Google Meet/Microsoft Teams/Skype meetings often. This will help you gain a rapport with them and better understand their expectations for the course and how you can succeed as an online learner.
4. Make Personal Time a Priority
If you know you have a paper due in two days, it can be easy to let that assignment overrun your life. It’s important to create boundaries between your personal and educational time to promote your mental health, happiness, and overall productivity.
5. Stay On-Task With the Pomodoro Technique
At-home learning leads to a lot of distractions. These can be doubled if you’re planning a PCS move soon or just recovering from one. If you’re someone who has trouble focusing, try out the Pomodoro Technique to increase your productivity. This technique tells you to work for 25 minutes and take a five-minute break in between. After four or five rounds, you get a longer break.
Online Colleges and Universities
Some primarily in-person colleges near you may have some online classes, but here is a list of institutions that offer fully online degree programs from associate’s to master’s degrees and are military-friendly.
1. Georgia State University
Offers over 40 online degrees ranging from associate’s to doctoral.
Offers eight associate’s degrees and 99 bachelor’s degrees, as well as 86 master’s degree options.
3. Drexel University
Offers over 100 online certificates, over 150 online master’s degrees, and more than 30 bachelor’s and doctoral degrees.
4. Georgia State University
Offers over 250 programs.
5. Indiana University
Offers over 150 online certificates, undergrad, and graduate degree programs.
6. The University of Alabama
Offers over 80 online bachelor’s, master’s, and post-grad degrees.
7. Pace University
Offers more than 20 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as post-grad certificates.
8. University of Idaho
Offers over 130 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs.
9. Syracuse University
Offers 40 online, part-time undergrad and grad programs.
Other Remote Learning Programs
Struggling with that 500-level organic chemistry course? Tutoring is a great option that the GI Bill will pay for. Many universities and independent businesses, like Aralia, offer fully online tutoring. Check with your college or institution because some of them offer free tutoring for their students.
Looking for something a little more specific? Check out some of the top-rated, accredited vocational trade schools you can participate in online.
Take the lead by participating in entrepreneurship training. Many colleges offer this training for a low cost, meaning you have no reason not to look into some of these programs.
If you’re planning to use your GI Bill benefits during a move, you’ll want to keep some of this info in your back pocket.
1. Pay Attention to BAH
First, your MHA will likely be the same as the BAH for a military member ranked E-5 who also has dependents. For example, an E-5 with dependents living in New York, NY, would have a BAH of $3,294. You should calculate the BAH for the area you’re looking to move to so you can make sure that you’ll be getting enough to cover your monthly housing expense. If you find that a home is out of your budget even with the MHA, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.
2. Live Close to Your School
Next, try to live close to the school you want to attend, whether you’re attending online or not. This gives you the freedom to participate in on-campus events and network with fellow students, even if you’re fully online. Plus, you’ll likely get to enjoy events that offer free food and goodies at no extra cost, thanks to your GI Bill benefits.
3. Dedicate a Space for Classwork
Finally, when moving, set aside a space specifically for doing classwork. Like people who are working their everyday 9-5 remotely, it’s important to dedicate an entire corner or even room to your studies. You could even convert this later if you decide to continue the online trend and get a remote job.
Need more help with moving? Read more here: VA Home Loan: What You Need To Know To Get One (2022 Edition)
Now that you’re armed to the gills with tips, knowledge, and facts about GI Bill use, online education, and moving tips, it’s time to put it all into action. If you’re ready to transfer your benefits from the GI Bill for spouse use, you can start the process right here.
Charlotte Watson says