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Military Tuition Assistance: Everything You Need to Know

Tuition Assistance

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.

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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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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.