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Active Duty Degrees: Navy College Program

The Navy College Program Means Degrees for Sailors

Sailors looking to advance their education goals should consider participating in the Navy College Program. Through their 5-Step Volunteer Education (VOLED) Process, the Navy takes professional development through education to another level.

The 5-Step VOLED Process

The Navy College Program created a glidepath for Sailors to follow which provides guidance along each step of their education journey. Since each student is different, Sailors can start at whichever step best suits their needs.

To participate in any of the Navy College Program’s offerings, Sailors must use the MyNavy Education portal. This is the central hub for processing Tuition Assistance and other applications along their journey.

The Five VOLED Steps

  1. Explore Education and Career Paths
  2. Research, Select a School, Develop a Plan
  3. Navy College Education Counseling
  4. Funding Through Tuition Assistance & Other Sources
  5. Implement Education Plan

Step 1: Exploring Opportunities

Not everyone knows what they want to study at college. Not everyone knows what career they want after leaving the service. For those people like me, this is a crucial step to take.

As you explore what’s out there, you will encounter some fantastic resources provided by the Navy College Program. Some of these are:

Use these resources to discover what you’re passionate about.

Step 2: Exploring Education Programs

Once you’ve decided on a career path, and you’ve discovered the education requirements needed to succeed in that career, the next step involves finding a suitable education program.

In this step, you have the option to search for programs by your Rating. This option tailors those career paths that most align with what you’ve already been doing in the Navy.

Perhaps you’re looking to do something different after the military. In this case, you can search by occupation or search by degree program. Both of these options allow you to discover what is available for your desired professional goals.

See also: Best Online Schools for Active Duty Military

Step 3: Navy College Education Counseling

The VOLED process requires Sailors to complete a counseling session with an education counselor. This session is designed to cover your goals and plans, and they could cover topics you may have missed in your research.

The mandatory counseling is a requirement to secure TA/NCPACE funding.

You can schedule your education counseling by calling NCVEC at 833-330-MNCC (6622). You can also submit an “Inquiry” through the Issue Tracker in your MyNavy Education portal.

Step 4: Secure Education Funding

There are a number of ways to fund your education. Some are earned through your service, while others are available through state and federal funding initiatives.

Navy Tuition Assistance

Be advised that NAVADMIN 214/21 provides an updated list of eligibility requirements for those seeking to use Tuition Assistance. Read this policy carefully before you seek funding.

The Navy College Program has two primary programs that Sailors can use to fund their education.

  1. Tuition Assistance (TA)
  2. Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE)

Each of these programs could pay 100% of your tuition at most institutions of higher learning. Keep in mind that there can be changes to these programs each fiscal year. There are also caps and limits on how much funding you can receive over the course of your career.

While TA is available to all eligible Sailors, the NCPACE program is designed for those who are assigned to specific categories of sea duty. This ensures that Sailors afloat have similar opportunities as those who are on shore.

Through accredited post-secondary institutions, NCPACE offers distance learning college courses. The best part is, courses in the NCPACE program do not require a consistent internet connection. In most cases, the course is downloaded in-full at the beginning, and then the coursework is uploaded at the end of the course.

RELATED: Military & Veteran College Scholarships and Grants

Top-Up Program

The Top-Up Program allows students to use their GI Bill benefits for reimbursement of tuition expenses not fully covered by TA/NCPACE.

Based on which GI Bill benefit you’re using (Montgomery or Post-9/11), the process of topping-up could deplete your benefit faster. For example, using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to reimburse any remaining tuition will use up that benefit faster than the MGIB Top-Up.

For more detailed information, carefully read the VA’s how-to guide for Using Tuition Assistance Top-Up.

Navy College Fund

The Navy College Fund offers new service members an increase in the MGIB Basic Allowance. This is commonly referred to as a “kicker” and is part of the service member’s contract.

The kicker is available through the Navy College Fund for those Sailors who convert to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but it is not transferable to dependents.

Navy Education: Alternative Funding Programs

There are also Navy education programs that could fund your education. Be advised, participants in the following programs are not eligible to use TA at the same time.

Education Programs for Enlisted Sailors

Educational Programs for Naval Officers

Federal & State Financial Aid

During your mandatory education counseling, the counselor will likely cover other funding options if you have no GI Bill benefits or have not been approved for TA.

Some of these options include:


And of course, there are so many scholarships out there to help pay for tuition and other educational expenditures.

Since there are so many scholarships out there, it is advisable to utilize a scholarship search tool. These search tools can cut down the time needed to find applicable scholarships.

Some great search tools are:

You need to know that where there is the will to complete your goals, there is a way to pay for it.

Step 5: Implement Your Education Plan

By the time you get to this point, you have done a lot of work. You have:

  • Researched career and education goals
  • Evaluated different schools and programs
  • Received counseling from an education specialist
  • And sourced funding to pay for your education

You’ve done all of that just to get to this point where you implement your plan. As you begin taking courses, remember to stay in contact with your command and/or counselor during the course of your program.

This is especially true if you encounter problems or change degree programs. 

Once you’ve completed your program, make sure that your degree is posted to your Joint Services Transcript. You accomplish this by asking your school to submit an official transcript to the JST Operations Center.

And of course, Congratulations, Sailor! You’ve just finished an active duty degree!


I firmly believe that getting an education is one of the most important journeys anyone can take in their life. Whether it is obtaining vocational credentials, getting computer certifications, or chasing down a degree program, learning should never stop.

It is awesome to see how many opportunities are available for our service members to get an education. If you’re interested in completing your education goals while in the Navy, please do not hesitate to follow the 5-Step VOLED Process outlined above.

It’s not just a job…it’s an adventure!