Moving the Goalposts: Army Slashes GI Bill “Sharing” Program
You want to transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member? You must now sign on for an additional four-year hitch. The new requirement applies no matter what your time in service is. Retirement eligible? You’ve already done your 20? Tough. Sign on for an additional four years.
That’ a significant shift in policy: Up until the April 15th announcement, you could transfer benefits to family members with an additional service requirement of one to three years, and in some cases, zero years. The new policy is effective August 1st.
That’s right: The Army and the other services except for the Navy tried to save money last month by eliminating the Tuition Assistance program – until they got smacked by Congress. Now they’re looking for other ways to lower their education/benefits bill. A recent Army Times piece indicates that Congress is quite willing to consider further cuts to pay and benefits, as the federal government moves to tighten up its defense outlays.
Meanwhile, spouses and children benefiting from the transferability of Post-9-11 GI Bill benefits make up about a fourth of all GI Bill educational benefits recipients, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to reporting by Navy Times.
This is going to weigh heavily on soldiers who had planned to transfer benefits to children who don’t start school until the fall semester or later. Money these soldiers planned on using for their own childrens’ education has now gone up in smoke, unless they extend their time in service.
However, according to the Army’s Human Resources Command, soldiers who transfer benefits and who are then involuntarily separated because of a reduction in force will not have to repay the VA for these transferred benefits.
In addition to the RIF exception, the Army also announced the following exceptions:
- The death of the soldier.
- Discharge or release from active duty for a medical condition which pre-existed the service of the soldier and was not service connected.
- Discharge or release from active duty for hardship.
- Discharge or release from active duty for a physical or mental condition not a disability and that did not result from the soldier’s own willful misconduct, but did interfere with the performance of duty.
More details are available on the Army’s website.