By Pam Warnken, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- With the gate opening Aug. 1 for eligible Sailors to transfer their GI Bill benefits to spouses or children, the Navy has processed about 7,500 applications with priority given to family members attending college this fall.
"We've taken care of approving the transferring of benefits for students attending classes right away so our doors are open to those attending in the near or distant future," said Kathy Wardlaw, GI Bill program manager at Navy Personnel Command. NPC added temporary staff for a few months to handle the influx.
Transferability requires an additional service obligation unless the Sailor is leaving due to a normal retirement or high year tenure limits, Wardlaw said, citing NAVADMIN 203/09. Otherwise, Sailors generally must have served at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to an additional four years. See the NAVADMIN for exceptions. Those who retired on or before Aug. 1 of this year are not eligible for the transfer benefit.
"The transferability benefit was designed as a recruiting and retention tool," Wardlaw said. Another important requirement to note, is that Sailors who want to transfer must do so while they're still affiliated with the armed forces.
Before submitting their transferability requests, their obligation requirement must reflect in their electronic service record (ESR), according to Wardlaw, or the request will be rejected until corrected. Sailors can review their ESR at https://nsips.nmci.navy.mil/.
Qualified active and Reserve Sailors may elect to transfer benefits to a spouse or children, with some or all benefits allocated to those named. In addition to the ESR, the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS) is used to validate a Sailor's eligibility to transfer.
Family members must be in DEERS and eligible for benefits in DEERS before a Sailor can request transferability. This means those dual-military members whose children are reflecting under only one sponsor's record, must reflect under both sponsors. For example, to establish a child as a family member under both military parents, the children be enrolled in DEERS under one parent for benefits and under the other parent as a child "drawing benefits from another military sponsor."
Wardlaw said the most common error is Sailors failing to choose the number of months to transfer to each family member or not annotating the dates the transfer entitlement is to be used.
"If you have young children and are just guessing at what you will want to transfer to each, it's okay to put one month for each. Registration is what's important here," said Wardlaw.
The months transferred to each person or the dates of use can be changed later. More importantly, a Sailor cannot add a new dependent after separation or retirement from the Service. Distributing the benefit among the children enables the Sailor to move the months of entitlement between children after separation.
"Remember, if you did not transfer entitlement to that child while in the armed forces, you can't add the child when you get out," Wardlaw explained.
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Vicky Gallagher, a drilling Reservist with the Office of Naval Intelligence unit in Millington, Tenn., cracked the code and is drawing nearly $10,000 for her daughter.
"My daughter is attending Mississippi State University. Seventy percent of her entire tuition and fees of nearly $10,000 will be paid for by the VA.
Because she is going more than half time, she receives 70 percent of the basic allowance for housing rate for an E-5 living in that area - more than enough to cover her monthly housing costs."
Because her daughter hopes to go on to veterinary school, Gallagher is ecstatic about the financial help.
"At first I wasn't sure I'd qualify, but the more I read the fine print, the more excited I became," she said.
The percentage of benefit is based on time on active duty after September 10, 2001. Gallagher advises people to pay close attention to the program rules and instructions as they fill out the online forms.
"And once you get your notice of eligibility and transfer benefits using the Transferability of Education Benefits (TEB) Web site, your work isn't yet done. Make sure the student contacts the [Department of Veterans Affairs] rep[representative] at the school and presents a copy of the TEB and their filled-out 'Application for Transfer of Entitlement,' VA Form 22-1990E, available on the VA Web site," she said.
Sailors can request eligibility determinations for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the VA Web site, https://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp and sign up for transferability of benefits at www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB/. Visit the NPC Web site for all rules.
For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.