Coast Guard Active Duty Education Benefits
Coat Guard members can take advantage of a number of types of education benefits. Each plan has its own criteria and exceptions. Before making a decision about which plan will offer the best option in an individual situation, servicemen and women should investigate the available options carefully.
Montgomery Bill Active Duty Benefits
The Montgomery Bill (MGIB) benefit plan provides financial assistance to active duty Coast Guard personnel. To be eligible for this type of assistance, participants agree to have $100 per month deducted from their regular pay. These payroll deductions are made for 12 months.
MGIB educational benefits are available to servicemen and women who have a minimum of two years of active duty service. Anyone requesting this type of benefit must have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) certificate.
Coast Guard members who choose to access MGIB funding can use the money to help pay for a number of different types of educational programs, including ones which lead to a certificate or a diploma. It also pays for programs offered by trade or vocational schools, or apprenticeship programs. Qualified candidates can get help with the cost of flight training under the Montgomery Bill.
MGIB assistance will be paid for up to 36 months. Active duty personnel and veterans can request funding under the plan.
New GI Bill Benefits
The New GI Bill also provides funding to pay for the cost of pursuing a post-secondary degree. Under its provisions, eligible personnel can have their tuition fully covered and receive other benefits to pay for their education. This legislation, which is also referred to as the Post 9/11 Bill, gives applicants the flexibility to choose to attend any accredited school.
The maximum benefit offered under the New GI Bill will fund 100 percent of the cost of tuition at the most expensive public college or university located in the recipient’s home state. Servicemen and women can choose to attend a private school but may not be able to get full funding. In that instance, the student would need to look to other sources of funding, including other financial aid programs, to make up the difference.
The Post 9/11 Bill also provides a monthly housing stipend to full and part-time students. The exact amount of assistance available depends on local housing costs. Recipients who are living in quarters supplied by the Guard will not receive the full amount of this benefit. A person who is enrolled in an online program will also not be eligible for the housing benefit.
Up to $1,000 is available under the New GI Bill to pay for books, supplies and materials needed to complete a program. The amount of assistance will vary, depending on the costs associated with a specific program.
If a Post 9/11 Bill funding recipient needs help from a tutor to keep up with coursework, he or she can receive up to $100 per month to pay for the cost of a tutor. The total amount of funding available for this purpose is $1,200.
In a situation where a professional exam must be written after completing a degree program to complete the education process, the New GI Bill will, in many cases, cover the fee associated with writing it.
Benefits under the New GI Bill can be transferred to a spouse or a child in some cases. This option may be available in situations where the serviceman or woman has completed at least six years of service and is willing to commit to an additional four-year term.
Coast Guard Active Duty Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
All prospective post-secondary education students complete a FAFSA. This form asks for detailed information about the applicant and his or her family, as well as their income and assets. The application form’s contents are then used to determine how much financial assistance the student would qualify to receive.
The single form is used to apply for federal financial aid, as well as programs offered by the state and the college or university to help pay for the cost of higher education. Applicants must be U.S. citizens with a valid Social Security Number. Anyone who has been convicted of a drug crime while receiving federal student loans, grants or work-study benefits is disqualified from completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Financial aid forms may be submitted after January 1 for programs starting in September of the same year. A separate FAFSA form must be completed for each academic year where funding is being requested. Subsequent applications are usually processed more quickly than the initial one.
Servicemen and women who have completed even one day of active duty service are automatically considered “independent” for FAFSA purposes. This designation means their parents’ income and asset information is not used to determine eligibility for financial aid.
Coast Guard Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA)
Tuition Assistance for Coast Guard members pays 100 percent of the cost of tuition and lab fees up to the following annual limits:
$4,500 per year
$250 per semester credit hour
$166 per quarter credit hour
Funding is provided up front for eligible courses, which must be related to the Guard member’s mission or to help him or her prepare for a career after being discharged. Approved courses must be offered by an accredited educational institution. Some types of programs, such as preparatory courses and programs which result in continuing education or professional development credits, cannot be funded under the Tuition Assistance program.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) Education Grants
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program offers grants of up to $160 per year. The money can be used by the Guard member or any adult learner in his or her family to pay for education expenses other than tuition. Funding offered under CGMA can also be used to pay for study guides for people preparing to write CLEP or SAT exams.
Coast Guard Active Duty Accelerated Payment Program (APP)
The Accelerated Payment Program is available to servicemen and women who want to enroll in certain high tech degree programs. Under the plan, a large lump sum of funding is provided on a semester basis. The money is used to cover up to 60 percent of the cost of tuition.
To qualify for funding under APP, a Coast Guard member must be enrolled in a degree program in Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science, life or physical science. The applicant’s studies should be preparing him or her for a career in fields such as biotechnology, electronics, telecommunications, weapons or nuclear technology.
Servicemen and women who are seeking funding under APP are not required to guarantee that they will work in a high tech field after completing their education, but they will need to indicate their intention to pursue work in this area.
Students must maintain a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) to be eligible to continue receiving funds. A “C” grade or higher is considered acceptable in most cases. Failing a class will probably mean the funds received to pay for that part of the program will need to be returned.
Coast Guard Active Duty College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
CLEP allows eligible servicemen and women to get college credit for their acquired knowledge and skills by writing an exam instead of taking a class. Writing a test to get college credit for introductory courses makes good sense, since it frees up time which would be spent in class and can help the Coast Guard member make his or her available benefits go further.
The fee usually charged to take the exam is covered under this program, and Coast Guard personnel can access study materials to prepare to take the test. Testing centers for CLEP exams are located throughout the United States, and exams may also be taken on a military base.
Coast Guard Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
VEAP funding may be available to veterans who have been honorably discharged and who have contributed between $25 and $2,700 toward their education benefit. Contributions made by servicemen and women are matched by the government on a 2-for-1 basis. For each dollar contributed by military personnel, the government puts up $2 in funding.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program funds may be used to help pay for the cost of obtaining a degree or a certificate, up to a Master’s level. Certain professional degrees may be eligible for funding under this program. Applicants must indicate their academic goals and each course must be approved individually before funding will be provided.
Coast Guard members can access a number of education benefits, both while on active duty and after being honorably discharged. The education and career goals of each serviceman or woman will help to determine which programs will provide the best level of benefits. Considering different programs and what they offer is the best way to maximize the amount of benefits available to qualifying Guard members.