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VA Education Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program

VA Education benefits

Have you performed a period of national service by joining the military under the VA National Call To Service program or NCS? You may qualify for VA education benefits through NCS. This program is intended for those who need an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill, and is offered under specific qualifying circumstances, as we’ll explore below.

Who Qualifies For Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program?

There are three basic requirements you must meet in order to be considered for VA education benefits under NCS.

1. After basic training, the applicant must serve on active duty “in a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense” for at least a year and three months.

2. Without a break in service, you must also serve either an additional period of active duty or a period of 24 months in an active status in the Selected Reserve.

3. After meeting these two requirements and without a break in service you must agree to a “remaining period of obligated service” as defined in your contract. This service can include:

  • Active Duty
  • Selected Reserve
  • AmeriCorps or similar approved domestic national service programs
  • Any combination of the service options above

VA Education Benefits Under The National Call-To-Service Program

When you join the military under the National Call-To-Service program you get a choice of benefits from a list of options. If you qualify for the program you may choose between:

  • A cash payment of $5,000, or;
  • Repayment of a qualifying student loan, not more than $18,000, or;
  • Educational assistance equal to the 3-year monthly Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) rate for 12 months, or;
  • Educational assistance equal to 50% of the less-than-3-year monthly MGIB rate for 36 months.

The VA official site says “National Call to Service (NCS) participants who elect to receive an educational assistance incentive are not entitled to additional assistance” under the GI Bill. You must choose one program or the other and cannot use both simultaneously at the full payment rate.

VA rules state that if you enter military service under NCS you can only sign up for the GI Bill if you reenlist.

For those who have eligibility for both NCS and the GI Bill, know that anyone “who receives benefits under the NCS program who also establishes eligibility under chapter 1606 or chapter 30 will have entitlement under Chapter 1606 or Chapter 30 reduced” by the amounts paid via NCS.

How to Apply for the National Call-To-Service Program

Complete VA Form 22-1990N (Application for VA Education Benefits Under the National Call to Service (NCS) Program). To do this you will need to provide your Social Security Number and some supplemental information:

  • Basic information about the school or training facility you want to attend
  • Bank account direct deposit information
  • Education history

The VA typically processes applications in 30 days according to the official site. Your experience may vary. Once the VA has processed your application it will contact you by mail to let you know if more information is needed or if a decision has been made. When you are approved for NCS benefits you will receive an award letter in the mail. If you have been denied, you will also be notified by mail.

It may take as little as 15 minutes to fill out the application. You will need to sign in to complete the form using ID.me, DS Logon, myHealtheVet, or Login.gov.

About the author

Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.