NOTE: Since I wrote this, NAVADMIN 203/09 has been superseded by OPNAVINST 1780.4, which also includes information from several updates to the original NAVADMIN. The information is the same, just better-presented.
Bottom Line: If you’re staying in for another four years, have any dependents, have a minimum of six years active duty, and are not currently using your GI Bill for graduate education, then you should transfer it to your dependents right now.
The transferability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a higher awesomeness-to-utilization ratio than just about any other benefit we have (Space-A flying coming in at a distant second). It is simply not well advertized, not user-friendly, and not well understood. It’s also not that difficult when you get down to it– I recently did it, so I’ll share my experience step-by-step right here. Part of what makes this stuff so painful to research is the complexity of eligibility criteria; with that in mind, I’m making this post a Cliffs-notes version for Navy JOs. All of this information is available elsewhere on the internet. The starting point for all Navy personnel should be NAVADMIN 203/09, posted below.
Here are the key points:
1. You must have six years in. It’s OK if you went to USNA, but those four years don’t count.
2. Transferring the benefit obligates you to serve another four years.
3. This obligation can be met while concurrently serving out any other obligation (double-dipping), like a Nuclear or SWOCP contract, or attending grad school under a different program like NPS.
4. The benefit is measured in months, and you can transfer anywhere from 1 to 36 months between any of your dependents.
5. The four-year “clock” starts from the moment you transfer any amount of the benefit to any dependent.
6. Once you’ve started the clock, you can transfer it back to yourself or between your dependents however you see fit without incurring any additional obligation. This means that if you’re married but don’t have kids yet, you can transfer it to your spouse right now to start the clock, then transfer it to any future children at a later date of your convenience.
The Reference: NAVADMIN 203_09
Have I got your attention? Good, let’s get started.
1. Print out NAVADMIN 203/09, posted above. It is four pages– read it top-to-bottom with a highlighter, and mark up all the sections that apply to you. Then read it top-to-bottom again, because you missed something.
2. Get with your admin office and have them draft up a Page 13 in accordance with Part II, Paragraph 7 of the NAVADMIN. Specifically, it states the following:
“I UNDERSTAND BY SIGNING THIS PAGE 13, I AGREE TO COMPLETE FOUR MORE YEARS IN THE ARMED FORCES (ACTIVE OR SELECTED RESERVE) FROM THE DATE I REQUEST TRANSFERABILITY OF POST 9-11, REAP OR MGIB-SR EDUCATION BENEFITS TO MY DEPENDENTS/FAMILY MEMBERS. I UNDERSTAND THAT FAILURE TO COMPLETE THIS FOUR YEAR OBLIGATION MAY LEAD TO AN OVERPAYMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN’S AFFAIRS THAT MAY BE RECOUPED FOR ANY PAYMENTS MADE TO DEPENDENTS/ FAMILY MEMBERS.”
This Page 13 must be entered into your Electronic Service Record in NSIPS; Admin does this through PSD. Unless this is done, your transfer request will not be approved.
3. Brace yourself for government website glory– pain and frustration is ahead, but it is worth it. First, log onto NSIPS to verify entry of your Page 13. You’ll need a computer with a CAC reader.
The NSIPS main screen couldn’t really make it any less clear where you should go. Click the big LOGON button. You may need to set up an account first.
Success looks like a big screen that says “Electronic Service Record.” If you’re at this screen click “View Administrative Remarks.”
This will bring you to a screen where you can read, well, administrative remarks. If the Page 13 was correctly entered into your record, it will look something like this:
4. Next, go to MilConnect to submit your request:
Click the red “sign in” button at the top right:
5. You will come to a screen that looks like this:
Any dependents you have in DEERS should show up on the list. Check all of the “Acknowledgments” boxes, then use the arrow buttons under the “Months” tab to distribute the benefit to your dependents. Keep in mind that you can readjust later, up until the moment that you retire.
When you’re satisfied, click “Submit Request.”
6. After about five business days, check back at MilConnect. If your request was approved, the Transfer of Benefits screen will now look like this. Check the in the top-left to see if your request was approved. Notice that there is now an Obligation End Date, which indicates the point at which you no longer owe time to the Navy for transferring this benefit.
If your request was approved, download and print out the Approval Form PDF, and stick it in a file. This form gives clear instructions on how your dependent can claim the benefit, and will be very helpful when its time for Junior to go to college.
If your request was not approved, you’ll have to contact the appropriate folks through the “Contact Us” tab under Transfer of Education Benefits. I’ve talked to a few folks whose initial requests were turned down, and it turned out to be some administrative issue that was easily resolved. I had no problems and my initial request was approved.
That’s it, that’s all you have to do.
There is information everywhere about this, so I’m not going to link to it– just Google it if you need more. I’ve found that this is one of those cases where too much information from too many sources can actually make it harder to find what you need. If you need more info (and you’re in the Navy), start with NAVADMIN 203/09 and if that doesn’t answer your questions then go to the VA website.
This is an underutilized benefit that can amount to beaucoup dollars and broadened opportunity for your family. Get it taken care of now while you can.