More GI Bill Benefits for Guard and Reservists

Gi Bill Parity Act

UPDATE: The GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 did not progress to the Senate or to the President’s desk for a signature before this Congress finished business for 2022. What follows is the original article preserved here for the record.

The GI Bill Parity Act Will Bring More Benefits to Members of the National Guard and Reserves

Good news for members of the National Guard and the Reserves. On Wednesday, January 12th, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 was passed in the House, 287-135. This was introduced by the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity with the Chair, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA).

Why Is This  Important?

Over the last few years, the National Guard and Reserves have been used at higher than normal levels. They have been called up for COVID-19 issues, protests, national disasters, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the January 6th Insurrection, and more.

Even though they have been called up more often, they do not accrue the same GI Bill benefits as their active duty counterparts. This act would rectify that and make every day in uniform count toward GI Bill benefits. Allowing the National Guard and Reserves to be able to earn benefits from all time served, not just select time.

Supporters of the GI Bill Parity Act

The following organizations support this bill:

  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Student Veterans of America
  • The National Guard Association of the U.S.
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the U.S.
  • Veterans Education Project
  • Reserve Officers Association

“National Guard and Reserve servicemembers have stepped up time and time again to serve our nation when we needed them—especially over the past two years—but right now, they don’t have equitable access to the GI Bill benefits they have earned. If these servicemembers can do their part day in and day out while holding down civilian jobs and squeezing in time to take care of their families, then the least we can do is ensure each day they spend in uniform counts towards their benefits,” said Chairman Takano, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Currently, the National Guard on Title 32 orders won’t count towards GI Bill benefits unless they are in support of a presidentially declared national emergency. Title 10 orders do count.

“Members of the National Guard and Reserve Component have risked their lives on the front lines of this pandemic, administering aid and protecting the Capitol on a training status,” said Veterans Education Project (VEP) Legislative Director Donald Franklin. “These brave men and women are long overdue the benefits befitting their service.”

What’s Next?

This still needs to be passed by the Senate, then go on to be signed by the President. If this is able to go through, it will be able to help out a lot of National Guard and Reserve members earn the benefits that they deserve when they step up to help this country.





Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) & Dependent Payments Increase Oct 2021

For Veterans using the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), on October 1, 2021, your benefit payments are set to increase by an average of 2.6% over the previous year’s rates.

MGIB Active Duty – Chapter 30

In 2020, the rate for a full-time student was $2,122, while a half-time student received $1061. The new rates for 2021 are $2150 for full-time students, and $1075 for those veterans attending half-time training. That’s an additional $28 and $14, respectively.

View the full 2022 Active Duty MGIB rates. The rates listed above apply to students attending institutes of higher learning. If your training takes another format, review the chart for more information.


MGIB Selected Reserves – Chapter 1606

Beginning 1 October, those full-time student veterans using the MGIB Selected Reserves will see an increase in your monthly benefit to $407, a $10 increase. Half-time students will see their benefits move up to $203.

View the full 2022 Selected Reserve MGIB rates. Again, the rates highlighted above are for students attending colleges or universities. The rate charts will also show other training formats and their respective increases, if any.


Survivors and Dependents Under Chapter 35

For those of you who may be using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ benefits given under Chapter 35, your full-time institutional rate will be $1298 beginning 1 October. That’s a bump of $33 per month. Half-time rates will be $753 per month.

View the full 2022 Chapter 35 chart for survivors and dependents.

RELATED: VA Benefits for Family Members, Survivors, and Caretakers

MGIB Buy-up & REAP Rates

If you participated in the MGIB $600 Buy-up program, check out the $600 buy-up rate table to see any changes that may apply to your monthly benefit payments.

RELATED: Military Benefits Changes for 2021

Additional Information

If you’re looking for specific information on your current or future rates, or even your eligibility for education benefits, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs by calling 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551), between the hours of 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday thru Friday.

If you’re calling from overseas, use 001-918-781-5678 to get connected to a customer service representative.

RELATED: 2021 Military Retiree and VA Disability Pay Increase

(Image courtesy of Monkey Business Images via





Proposed Legislation Could Increase GI Bill Benefits for Guard, Reservists

Increased GI Bill Benefits for National Guard and Reservists with Proposed Legislation

In mid-March, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 was introduced, which would make it easier for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to accumulate GI Bill benefits.

“House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Vice Chair Mike Levin (D-CA) and Chair Mark Takano (D-CA) reintroduced the bipartisan” bill on March 11. It was originally introduced to Congress in February of 2020, but referred back to the Veterans’ Affairs committee. The bill aims to create uniformity in GI Bill benefits for Guard and Reservists “who increasingly conduct similar training and missions as other servicemembers, but do not receive equal benefits.” More specifically, the bill expands the benefit eligibility of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to count each day that any activated servicemember is paid and in uniform; this specification of each paid day in service should help eliminate “confusion over which types of duty allow Guard troops to qualify for federal education benefits.”

Current Service Requirements

Currently, National Guard members are required to serve 90 days (at least 30 days of continuous service) to reach eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Automatic qualification is granted to Purple Heart recipients. While the average Guardsman does serve around 60 days during a normal year, without any missions or deployments, one “day in the Guard doesn’t always equal one day of service.” Required weekend and annual training does not count toward benefit eligibility.

“Fairness to the way GI Bill benefits are earned…”

Of the intent behind the bill, Rep. Levin released a statement saying, “This bill will bring some basic fairness to the way GI Bill benefits are earned and provide Guard and Reserve members with the benefits they deserve. I look forward to advancing this bill on behalf of the thousands of Guard members who [have recently] defended our Capitol and many others who have sacrificed for our country.”

Since 9/11, the role of the Reserve Component has changed drastically. Originally created as a strategic division, they have now evolved into an integral and operational part of U.S. defense. “Servicemembers from the Active and Reserve Components often train and serve alongside each other… but do not receive equal benefits.” While this alone is enough support for a bill of this nature, the most recent catalyst for its reintroduction came after the announcement “that 2,300 National Guard troops [would] remain deployed in Washington, D.C., at least until May 23, 2021,” a response to the recent insurgence on our nation’s capital.

Rep. Takano released a statement highlighting, “Time and time again, through natural disasters, global pandemics, and threats to our democracy, our National Guard and Reserve members have answered the call to serve. But despite taking on the same risks and doing the same jobs as their Active Duty counterparts, these servicemembers don’t have access to the same benefits. That’s not right.”

Many Guard and Reservists are in agreement

And the masses agree with Rep. Takano. One Reddit user said of this disparity, “deploying to a combat zone for at least six months should qualify a guardsman for 100% GI Bill. It’s outrageous that people who are basically in a jobs program doing nothing in the motor pool for three years and never deploy receive 100% and they do not.”

Another commented, “when I went to college, I was receiving 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I had finished a 400 day mobilization for my deployment to Iraq so that was all I got. It was still a great benefit to have… but sometimes I had to dip into retirement savings to pay the difference. I had other Vets in my classes who had been on active duty but had never left the state of California and were receiving the full benefit. Yes they earned it by the letter of the law, but there is little difference between my stateside drills/annual training/NCOES/etc and theirs. If I had been allowed to count all of my Reserve time I would have received 70% which would have made a big difference for me. I really hope this becomes law. Granted Reserve and Guard wouldn’t earn the benefit as fast, but it would be better than what they get now.”

Long-awaited Legislation has widespread support

There is widespread support for this long-awaited legislation among those in positions to support the military community, as well. Veterans Education Project (VEP) Legislative Director Donald Franklin said, “These brave men and women are long overdue the benefits befitting their service.” Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO voiced, “The expanded eligibility under [this act] takes a major step forward by recognizing the reserve component’s sacrifice to our nation and rewarding their service with education benefits like their active-duty counterparts.” And Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Karen Craig, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States responded, “We appreciate the[se] efforts… to ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserve are eligible for the GI Bill benefits they deserve based on their increased service to our nation. The National Guard activated over 187,000 servicemembers last year, and this legislation will ensure they receive GI Bill benefits equal to their active-duty counterparts, regardless of status.”

Whether this proposed legislation will be passed is still up in the air, but those in support of it are dedicated to making sure it remains a priority. With the larger focus currently residing strongly on pandemic response efforts, supporters hope that it can be “included in the annual defense authorization bill expected to pass later this fall.”





National Guard & Reserve Tuition Assistance

National Guard Tuition Assistance and Reserve Tuition Assistance

If you are serving in the National Guard or Reserves, you might be wondering if there is a National Guard Tuition Assistance (TA) program or Reserve Tuition Assistance program available to you.

There are Tuition Assistance programs for all five branches of the military, with their own service-specific criteria. There are also TA programs for the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and some Reserves branches.

Army National Guard Tuition Assistance

  • If you are serving in the Army National Guard you can receive FTA, Federal Tuition Assistance.
  • You can qualify for FTA if you are currently serving in the National Guard, and as of August 5th, 2018, have completed AIT. Previously, you needed to wait a year after AIT to qualify.
  • FTA will fund up to $250 per semester hour, up to 16 semester hours each fiscal year.
  • The lifetime limits would be 130 for undergraduate semester hours, 39 for graduate semester hours, and 21 for certificate or diploma semester hours.
  • The college or university that you go to must be regionally or nationally accredited and a GoArmyEd participant.
  • Federal Tuition Assistance will pay for one credential at each level, which includes getting a certificate/diploma, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or graduate level certificate. They will not pay for doctorate degrees.
  • You also may not use FTA to achieve a lower level or lateral level degree or diploma. The purpose is to help you move forward in your education.
  • FTA is for tuition only, not for fees or other expenses outside of the official degree plan.
  • You will need to contact your state’s education services office to find out if you are eligible for Federal Tuition Assistance.
  • If you are eligible for FTA, you would start your application process by creating a GoArmyEd You will need to have this submitted and approved through the GoArmyEd site prior to the course start date.
  • Your FTA request needs to be course by course, not just a blanket request for all of your classes.
  • GoArmyEd will notify you whether your FTA is approved, if not they will advise you on what to do next.

Air National Guard

You can receive TA benefits through serving in the Air National Guard. Make sure to check out your state’s specific educational benefits to know what you would qualify for. You can also work towards your associate’s degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Tuition Assistance for the Reserves

The branches that offer Reserves TA do usually stay within these guidelines:

  • Up to 100% coverage for tuition, up to $250 per semester hour, or $166 per quarter hour. Up to $4,500 per fiscal year
  • Must be a reservist in good standing
  • Need to declare an educational goal by the 9th credit hour for the USAFR and by the 15th for the USAR
  • Must work towards an educational goal higher than what you already have.
  • Need to be able to complete your course under your current term of service or reenlist (for enlisted and warrant officers,) or have at least four years left of remaining service from the date of your course completion (for commissioned officers.)

The Navy Reserves and the Marine Corps Reserves do not have a tuition assistance program at this time. However, if you get called to active duty, you will fall under the Federal Tuition Assistance program of your active duty counterparts during your activation period.

The Army Reserve Tuition Assistance

For those going for a bachelor’s degree, the Reserve Tuition Assistance program will pay for 75% of tuition costs, up to $250 per semester hour, $166 per credit hour, with the $4,500 annual fiscal cap. To apply, you would need to submit your Tuition Assistance application online through GoArmyEd.

The Air Force Reserve Tuition Assistance

For undergraduates, they offer TA at the DOD guidelines. For master’s degrees, funding is limited to 75% of those guidelines. If you are interested in an associate’s degree and going through the Community College of the Air Force, you will be exempt from the progressive education level requirement. You can apply for TA by going to the Air Force Reserve Portal website.

The Coast Guard Reserve Tuition Assistance

In order to receive TA benefits through the Coast Guard, you will need to be a reservist on long term active duty orders of over 180 days. Back to back tours will not count. The Coast Guard also has an annual fiscal year cap of $2,250 which is lower than other branches.

If you are serving in the National Guard or the Reserves, make sure to find out if you qualify for Tuition Assistance. If you do, make sure to apply in a timely manner in order to receive TA for your education.







National Guard Pay vs. Army Reserves Pay

National Guard Pay and Reserve Pay

If you are thinking about joining the National Guard or the Reserves, you might be wondering how National Guard pay or Reserve pay works.

Serving in the National Guard and Reserves can be quite different than serving in the active duty military. You have your monthly drills, your annual training, and anything else the military calls you to do. You also work a civilian job, and the military is only a small part of your paycheck.

As an active duty soldier, you know you can receive base pay, BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing), and other types of payments and allowances.

How do things work for the National Guard and Reserves? How about if you deploy or train for more than a weekend? Will you still receive BAH if you are gone for three weeks?

National Guard Pay and Reserve Pay

Your pay as a National Guard or Reservist is determined by your rank, job, and time in service.

You will always get paid when you train. When you work for the military, you will receive some type of military pay.

What about drill pay and weekend drills?

  • Weekend drills can be anywhere from 1-4 days long, depending on what is going on, what is needed and even the budget. Usually, you can count on training on Saturday and Sunday with a possible Friday or Monday as well. They will be at your local armory or another location. If you live near a military installation, you might even go there for training.
  • Each year, you can figure out how much you will get paid during your drill weekends by checking out the military pay charts here. For example, in 2018, an E-5 with 8+ years would make $104.19 for 1 drill, $416.76 for 4 drills. An O-7 with 16+ years would make $392.73 for 1 drill, $1,570.92 for 4 drills.
  • You need to know that 1 drill period is 4 hours. On a typical weekend, you would work 4 drill periods. So that E-5 would earn $416.76 for a regular, two day drill weekend.
  • You are not given any BAH for a drill weekend.
  • You should receive your pay for your drill weekend, about 10 days after the weekend is over, give or take.

What about Annual Training (AT)?

  • AT is annual training and happens once a year, for about two or three weeks. During this time, your base pay would be the same as your active duty counterpart with the same rank and time in service. This will, of course, be prorated for the time that you are away on training.
  • If you’re gone for less than 30 days, you will receive what is called Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transient, or BAH II. This is not the same as BAH, what an active duty service member would receive.
  • BAH II pays less than what BAH I would pay. It is also not based on your location but instead on rank, if you have dependents or not, and on the national average for housing. The E-5 with dependents would earn $948.30, the 0-7 with dependents would earn $2050.80. This number is also prorated. If you are gone for three weeks, you will receive three weeks worth of BAH II, not the full amount.
  • You can pull up these rates on the military pay charts here as well.
  • If you happen to be gone for more than 30 days, you would then receive BAH I. This is a change as it used to be that you had to be gone 140 days to qualify.

What happens when I deploy?

  • When you deploy, you are being activated and will receive pay as if you were on active duty. This will include pays such as BAH, Family Separation Pay, Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay, Hardship Duty Pay, Hazardous Duty Pay, Foreign Language Proficiency Pay, BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence,) and all of your pay while deployed will be tax-exempt.
  • Of course, what you receive when you deploy will depend on where you are going, how long you are there, and what you qualify for.

What about TRICARE?

  • As far as TRICARE goes, you will have to pay a monthly fee unless you are activated to serve on active duty. When that happens, you can qualify for the same TRICARE that your active duty counterpart does.
  • If you are not activated, you would need to sign up for TRICARE Reserve Select, and the cost would be $221.38 per month for the service member and their family, $46.09 for just the service member. While you do have to pay for this, the cost is very affordable and less than what you would probably pay through your civilian employer.

Anything else I need to know about National Guard and Reserves Pay?

There are also over 60 special and incentive military pays that you may or may not qualify for. If you do extra training, you can also earn more money from doing so.

Remember, every time you are working for the military, you will receive a military paycheck. If you are trying to learn more about how much money you would make as a National Guard or Reserve service member, this should give you an idea of what to expect.





Military Tuition Assistance: Everything You Need to Know

As you are figuring out the costs of going to college as a service member, you may have come across military tuition assistance. This is another way for service members to pay for college.

What is Tuition Assistance?

Tuition Assistance (TA) is a program where military service members can receive funds for college while serving.  The military tuition assistance program may cover up to 100% of the cost-per-credit hour for your education. However, there are limits to what the program covers.

Which Military Branches Have TA?

All 5 branches of the armed forces, the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard have TA programs.

Each of the services do have their own programs that have service-specific criteria. You can also receive TA if you are in the National Guard or the Reserves.

How Much Will TA Pay For?

Tuition Assistance isn’t open-ended. There are limits. They will pay up to 100% of tuition expenses for up to $250 per credit hour.

There is an annual ceiling of $4,500 per fiscal year, which is October 1st through September 30th. In addition, there is a 16-semester hour cap.

Books and other materials are not funded with Tuition Assistance.

What Types of School Can You Attend?

You can go to an academic college, a technical college, a 2 or 4-year school.  Distance learning may also be covered.

Make sure your school is accredited and approved to receive tuition assistance funds.

Schools Approved for Military Tuition Assistance: Campus Learning

Remember to note that the program you are enrolling must be approved to be covered, not the school.  Some partner schools are listed and have paid for promotional consideration.

For a longer list of schools approved for Tuition Assistance, you can use the CollegeRecon School Finder.  Please go here.


Online Schools Approved for Military Tuition Assistance

Remember to note that the program you are enrolling must be approved to be covered, not the school. Some partner schools are listed and have paid for promotional consideration.

For a longer list of online schools approved for Tuition Assistance, you can use the CollegeRecon School Finder.  Please go here.

Is TA Open to Every Paygrade?

Yes, TA is available for officers, warrant officers, and enlisted service members.

What Is the Difference Between a GI Bill and Tuition Assistance?

Military tuition assistance is only available to service members when you are currently serving.  You may use your GI Bill after you get out of the service or transfer it to your spouse and/or dependents.

Tuition Assistance is offered by the branches, while the GI Bill is offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What Is the Top-Up Program?

The Top-Up program is a way for the VA to pay the difference of the costs of tuition if TA does not cover everything. You have to be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

When Is Using the Top-Up Program a Good Idea?

The Top-Up program is a good idea if you plan to:

    • Use TA to complete a degree program when you are serving on active duty and don’t plan to continue to use your education after you get out of the service.
    • Take just a few classes with TA while on active duty.  This will help you save most of your GI Bill benefits for after service to complete your educational program.

Top-Up is limited to 36 months of payments. If one class is three months, that would be three out of the 36 months.

The amount would be equal to the difference between the total cost of a college course and the amount that TA will be paid through your service branch.

Top-Up Eligibility

To be eligible, you need to be approved for Federal TA by a military department and be eligible for a GI Bill.

How Top-Up Works

If the amount paid by the military together with the amount paid by the VA is more than the total cost of the course, a few things happen based on the type of GI Bill you have.

With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your school would be reimbursed the difference between the amount of the money the DOD pays for the course, and the authorized maximum tuition and fees for the school.

If you have the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, you will receive the difference between what the DOD pays and the total cost, not to exceed the monthly maximum of the GI Bill.

Your GI Bill will be charged based on the type of GI Bill that you have.

With the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the entitlement is charged based on the training time you are enrolled in.

With the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, your entitlement will be charged based on the dollar amount of benefits the VA pays you. That is one month of entitlement for each payment you receive that is equal to the full-time monthly rate for the GI Bill.

How Do I Receive Tuition Assistance?

You would need to go visit your local installation education center to get started with TA.

As you can see, TA can be what you need to figure out how to fund all or part of your education. Make sure to check with your branch’s own qualifications, so you know what you need to do to qualify and use this benefit.

For more on this program, go here.


Search colleges and universities that accept Military Tuition Assistance






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