Post 9/11 GI Bill: how to apply, transfer benefits

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Editor’s note: This process applies to Air Force Reservists only. Members of the Air National Guard should refer to their retention office for information on how they can apply, transfer benefits.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a great benefit for Reservists to use when they, or a family member, wish to pursue higher education or training. The education office at Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center has outlined easy-to-follow steps through MyPers that will generate a letter of certification for a member’s qualifying active-duty points.

According to Holly Klein, to start the process of applying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, reservists must first do a review of their point credit summary to determine their eligibility. To do this, they must log in to the Virtual Military Personnel Flight, select “Self-Service Actions,” “Personal Data,” and then “ANG/USAFR Point Credit Summary Inquiry.”

The point credit summary can be somewhat confusing, but Klein explained that it is to be read line-by-line, and that it matches up with the member’s military pay history. Reservists should look for their qualifying duty type codes, or TDs, which are 1, 2, 3 and 5, and tally the number of days next to each TD.

When the member has reached 90 days of qualifying active duty service, they become eligible with 40 percent of the benefit. At 180 days, eligibility goes up ten percent and increases ten percent for each additional six months of active duty service. At 1,095 days of qualifying service, the member qualifies for 100 percent of the benefit. Time spent on active duty for basic military training and technical school do not initially count toward eligibility. However, once the member reaches 80 percent eligibility, that time becomes eligible.

After eligibility is determined, reservists may request a letter of certification through MyPers by utilizing the “Email Us” tool. The request should indicate the member’s component, that the request is for “Benefits and Entitlements”, and the subject should read “Post 9/11 GI Bill Application.” The member must also indicate whether they have been a member of the Air National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001. This letter is not necessary if the member has a DD 214 showing three years of active duty service since Sept. 11, 2001. As members complete additional qualifying active duty time, they may request a new letter of certification to move to their eligibility to the next percentage level. Once the VA has documented the increase, the VA will increase the benefit at the beginning of the next term.

Once ARPC has provided the letter of certification, the member may begin the application process for their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits through the VA. They may apply before receiving the letter of certification from ARPC, but the Department of Veterans Affairs may not be able to see all of the Reserve Airman’s qualifying active duty service when determining eligibility. The letter of certification also works as supporting documentation to appeal the VA’s initial decision as well.

To apply with the VA, Airmen must visit the VONAPP website and fill out the Post 9/11 GI Bill application, VA 22-1990. After logging in, the member will indicate they wish to apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill by clicking on the “Create a New Form” drop down menu and selecting “Education Benefits.” According to Klein, the first question in this application is the most important, as it is where the member will revoke eligibility for another GI Bill program in favor of using their 9/11 GI Bill. This revocation may not be changed and the member may wish to contact ARPC Education Services to confirm other eligibility. If the member has their letter of certification from ARPC, they will upload it at the end of the form in addition to or in lieu of a DD214.

Once the VA has reviewed the application, which may take a few weeks or months depending on the time of year, they will provide a certificate of eligibility indicating what percentage level the member qualifies for.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill program provides 36 months of 40 to100 percent of tuition and fees, capped at the most expensive state school; basic allowance for housing at the staff sergeant with dependents rate; and a $1,000 annual stipend for books. Additionally, once the member reaches 100 percent eligibility, they also qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Under this program, a number of schools across the U.S. will provide additional funding to students at their schools, often making up the difference between the amount paid by the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the cost of tuition at that institution.

Members of the Selected Reserve also have the opportunity to transfer some or all of their Post 9/11 benefit to spouses and children. This may be done at any time after the member has six years of satisfactory service, and as long as the member has at least 40 percent eligibility. Transfer is accomplished via www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect. Transferring benefits incurs a four-year, Selected Reserve service commitment, so this should be done as early as possible in the process.

“It doesn’t behoove you to wait, as you can always revoke the benefit,” said Klein. “If you give even a small percentage to each dependent, than you can always toggle the months around as needed, even when you leave the selected reserve.”

Klein said members should transfer benefits even if they are unsure of who may actually use the benefit, as the allocated months can always be adjusted or revoked. Benefits not transferred while participating cannot be given after leaving active duty or selected reserve status. Klein added that unused benefits will revert back to the member.

These benefits may be transferred to a spouse, regardless of age, once the member has 6 years in service. After 10 years time-in-service, these benefits may be transferred to children registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, up to their 23rd birthday, so long as they are registered as a full-time student in a degree program. The member makes their dependents eligible by giving them a month or more of their benefit. Children may begin using transferred benefits starting at age 18 and up to their 26th birthday for higher education.

In order to begin receiving the transferred benefits, eligible dependents must also create an account on the VONAPP website and complete a VA form 22-1990E and communicate the Post 9/11 GI Bill information to their chosen school.

“This is the most encompassing educational benefit the VA has ever given members,” she said. “It will pay for everything from a certificate program to your second master’s degree, to a doctoral program, use it to the fullest.”

This VA benefit may be used toward higher education, such as degree programs, flight training, apprenticeships and certificate programs.

For full details on the Post 9/11 GI Bill, visit the VA webpage. Another useful tool is the GI Bill Comparison Tool, which will provide an estimate of how much your benefit will pay based on the school you plan to attend.