US Marines Financial Aid & College Tuition Assistance

There are many great educational opportunities for members of the United States Marines. Below we’ve put together a summary of various college tuition assistance programs and other financial aid benefits that both current and former members of the US Marines have access to in order to further their education and career prospects.

Marines Active Duty Education Benefits

Education benefits for active duty Marines have been put in place to help eligible personnel get the education they need to qualify for higher-ranking positions in the Service or to start on a different career path after being discharged.

Montgomery Bill Active Duty Benefits

The Montgomery Bill (MGIB) provides educational benefits to active duty servicemen and women. Under its provisions, up to 36 months of financial assistance may be received to pay for the cost of obtaining a certificate or degree at an accredited institution. The cost of technical and vocational training courses can be funded under the Montgomery Bill, as well as flight training and some apprenticeship programs.

Recruits agree to contribute $100 per month for 12 months toward their education benefit plan from their regular pay during the first year of active service. To be eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery Bill, a Marine must have served for a minimum of two years and have a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate.

MGIB benefits can be used by active duty Marine personnel or veterans. Education benefits offered under the Montgomery Bill must be used within 10 years of being honorably discharged.

New GI Bill Benefits

The New GI Bill offers an education benefit to pay for the full cost of obtaining a degree. Also known as the “Post 9/11 Bill,” it provides a full benefit equal to the cost of attending the most expensive public university in the recipient’s home state. Marines who have served for six years and are prepared to extend their commitment for another 48 months may be able to transfer their education benefit under the New GI Bill to a spouse or a child.

Along with paying 100 percent of tuition costs, the New GI Bill provides the following benefits:

  • Stipend for full and part-time students who are not living in military housing
  • Up to $1,000 to pay for books, supplies and academic equipment required for the degree program
  • A monthly benefit of $100 to pay for the cost of tutoring
  • Fees required to pay for the cost of taking a licensing exam

To receive full funding under the New GI Bill, a Marine must have served for at least 36 months. Servicemen and women who have completed a minimum of 90 days can receive a partial benefit under the Post 9/11 legislation.

This plan offers more flexibility to eligible Marines than the MGIB does. Funding can be accessed for up to 15 years after leaving the Service.

Marines Active Duty Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

All servicemen and women can take advantage of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Filling out this form is a one-step way to be considered for education benefits offered by the federal government, as well as at the state and school-funded levels. The military education benefits may not cover the entire cost of getting a post-secondary education, and FAFSA may help to fill in any gaps in funding.

To be eligible for federal student assistance, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen and have a valid Social Security Number. Recipients must have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) certificate. Anyone who has been convicted of a drug offense while receiving federal student aid will not be eligible for further funding.

The form can be completed before a prospective student has been accepted to a program. FAFSA forms can be submitted after January 1 for programs starting in September. Getting the form submitted early means that an applicant can be considered for as many sources of funding as possible.

Marines Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA)

Marine Active Duty Tuition Assistance is offered to help pay for the cost of obtaining a post-secondary degree. Personnel who are interested in using these benefits are required to attend a TA Orientation Class first. Officers who take advantage of TA benefits are required to commit to an additional two years of Active Duty service after completing the last funded course.

Under the TA plan, eligible courses are funded when the Marine registers for the program. Any tuition or other costs of attending the program not covered under TA must be paid for by the serviceman or woman personally. The course load that an eligible Marine undertakes can be limited by the education services officer working at his or her installation.

Financial assistance is available to Marines who are taking courses toward obtaining a high school diploma or a GED certificate. The cost of tuition for these types of programs will be funded on a 100 percent basis up to an annual limit of $4,500 per person.

Marines Active Duty Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)

STAP is available to spouses of military personnel living overseas. It provides a needs-based, no interest loan which can fund up to 50 percent of a spouse’s tuition for a certificate, undergraduate or graduate degree program. Up to $3,000 in loans may be given during a 12-month period.

Eligible spouses must be living with the serviceman or woman outside of the 50 states to receive this funding. Approved programs must be offered by local schools or ones which have signed a contract with the military.

Marines Active Duty Accelerated Payment Program (APP)

The Accelerated Payment Plan is offered under the general MGIB benefits plan. Marines who are planning to study toward a degree in a high-tech field, such as Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, can receive lump sump payments which are used to pay for the cost of tuition on a semester-by-semester basis.

The money can be used to cover up to 60 percent of the cost of these high-cost programs. To be eligible for this source of funding, Marines must qualify for general MGIB benefits through the regular payroll deduction plan. A minimum level of academic achievement must be maintained to continue receiving funding under APP. If a recipient fails a class, he or she will likely be required to repay the money received.

A Marine interested in accessing funding under APP must also indicate that he or she intends to work in a technical field after graduation. Career paths which would qualify for this type of funding include:

  • Aerospace
  • Biotechnology
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Life Science Technologies
  • Material Design
  • Nuclear Technology
  • Opto-electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Weapons

A Marine receiving APP funds does not have to guarantee that he or she will be working in a high tech field after graduation but must indicate that this is the intended career path. Receiving the funds in large lump sum payments as opposed to a smaller amount each month makes it easier to pay tuition for expensive high-tech programs.

Marines Active Duty College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The College Level Examination Program allows servicemen and women to get college credit for introductory level programs based on their life experience and acquired knowledge. Instead of spending time and using available education benefits to take a class, a Marine can spend one day writing an exam.

A college credit obtained through CLEP will be recognized at over 3,000 colleges. More than 30 subject areas are covered in this manner and a Marine can obtain more than one college credit in this manner. Study materials may be available at no charge to servicemen and women and the exams may be written on base or at testing centers in various locations across the United States.

Marines Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

The Veterans Educational Assistance Program is used to match contributions made by eligible Marines to their education plan on a 2-for-1 basis. For every dollar that the Marine contributes through regular payroll deductions, the government will contribute $2.

These funds can be accessed for 36 months and may be used to pay for several types of courses and training, such as:

  • Certificate program
  • Degree program
  • Flight training
  • On the job training

The time limit for using VEAP funds is 10 years after being honorably discharged. The original contribution made by the Marine will be returned to him or her at that point. The government will be reimbursed for its contribution as well.

The type and level of funding available to Marines for education purposes is an important benefit to anyone considering enlisting in this branch of the Armed Forces. The decision of whether to apply for funding under the MGIB or the New GI Bill is an important one, since it can’t be changed once it has been made.

Before making a decision about how to pay for post-secondary education, a prospective student should consider his or her educational goals carefully. Once the Marine knows what type of program he or she is interested in pursuing, finding the way to get the highest level of education benefits is a much easier process. The military benefits are very generous, and other sources of funding are available to bridge the gap to pay for post-secondary education and training.