The United States recognizes that those who serve in the military deserve to be rewarded and acknowledged for their service, and for that reason, there are many financial aid incentives available. Below we have provided an overview of the various financial aid packages and tuition assistance programs that are available to both past and present members of the US Navy.
Navy Active Duty Education Benefits
Navy active duty personnel can gain access to a number of benefits to help pay for the cost of pursuing post-secondary education. The amount of funding available under each program varies, and a sailor interested in getting help to pay for school should make a point of investigating all available options.
Montgomery Bill Active Duty Benefits
The Montgomery Bill (MGIB) provides education benefits for members of the Armed Forces. It provides up to 36 months of funding to help pay for the cost of higher education. To qualify for funding under this program, recruits must contribute $100 per month from their regular pay for 12 months. The contributions are made through automatic payroll deductions.
To receive education benefits under the Montgomery Bill, a sailor will need to have at least two years of service. He or she will also need to have a high school diploma or GED to get funding under MGIB programs.
Funds received under the Montgomery Bill can be used while on active duty or after being honorably discharged from the Navy. The money is paid directly to the recipient and can be used to pay for any educational cost.
New GI Bill Benefits
The New GI Bill, which is also known as the Post-9/11 Bill, provides funding to cover the full cost of obtaining a post-secondary degree. The amount of funding that an eligible sailor can receive is equal to the amount it would cost to attend the most expensive public university in his or her home state. Navy personnel who want to attend a private university can still receive funding but may need to look for other sources of financial assistance to make up the difference between the actual cost of attending the school and the funding available under the New GI Bill.
Navy personnel who are eligible to receive funding under the Post-9/11 Bill will receive funding for tuition, as well as the cost of books and materials. If a student requires tutoring services, the plan will provide up to $1,200 in funding for this purpose. The cost of writing a licensing exam can also be covered under the provisions of the New GI Bill.
Sailors who are interested in accessing education benefits under the New GI Bill need to understand that they will have to choose whether to get funding under MGIB or the Post 9/11 legislation. Once a decision has been made it cannot be changed, so anyone who is eligible for these benefits should make a point of researching their options carefully.
The New GI Bill will provide some financial help to a sailor who has served a minimum of 90 days’ active service. To receive the full level of benefits available, Navy personnel must have three years or more of active service.
A sailor who has served for a minimum of six years and is willing to sign on for another four-year commitment can choose to transfer his or her education benefit under the New GI Bill to a spouse or a child.
Navy Active Duty Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
All students applying for admission to schools offering post-secondary education complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form asks a number of questions about the applicant, his or her family and the amount of assets available to help pay for a post-secondary education.
A person who has served for even one day in the Armed Forces is considered “independent” for FAFSA purposes, which means that they are not required to provide information about his or her parents’ finances when being considered for assistance.
FAFSA is available to prospective students who are U.S. citizens and who have a valid Social Security Number. People who have been convicted of a drug-related offense while receiving federal financial aid for students are disqualified from filling out an application for assistance.
The FAFSA form can be filled out before being accepted into a post-secondary program. People who are applying for admission to a program which starts in September should plan to apply for federal financial aid in January of that year. Applications should be sent in after January 1; any applications sent in before that point will not be considered.
Financial aid is awarded on an annual basis. Students need to apply every year for funding and are contacted by e-mail to advise them of the application deadline. Applications for subsequent years are usually processed faster than the one for the first year of study.
Navy Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA)
The Navy’s TA program can be used to pay for the cost of taking from an educational institution which has been accredited on a regional, national or professional basis. Funding is available to pay for in-class and distance learning programs of any length. Qualifying courses must be offered in the following units of measurement, which must be displayed on the student’s transcript:
- Semester hours
- Quarter hours
- Clock hours
- Continuing education units
TA benefits can also be used to pay for the cost of taking courses to obtain a high school diploma or a GED (General Education Development) certificate. To qualify for Tuition Assistance, a sailor must be on duty for the duration of the program and have received counselling from a Navy College Office before starting his or her studies.
An officer receiving TA to help pay for the cost of his or her education must commit to remaining in the Navy for at least two years after completing the funded program, and this obligation runs concurrently to any other service obligations made. If the service obligation is not completed or a recipient of TA funds does not obtain a passing grade on a course, the money will have to be paid back.
Navy Active Duty Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)
The Navy Active Duty Spouse Tuition Assistance Program provides assistance to spouses of personnel stationed outside of the 50 states who wish to upgrade their education. Eligible applicants can receive up to $3,000 in no-interest loans. The money can be used to pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of tuition for full or part-time studies leading toward an undergraduate or graduate degree.
To qualify for funding under STAP, a military spouse must be residing with the sailor stationed overseas on a full-time basis. The spouse must be planning to study in an accredited program at a local school or one which has reached an agreement with the Military.
Navy Active Duty Accelerated Payment Program (APP)
The Navy Active Duty Accelerated Payment Program (APP) is offered as part of the MGIB benefits. It provides a lump sum payment which can be used to pay up to 60 percent of the cost of tuition for high-tech university programs.
Not all programs are eligible for this type of funding. Sailors interested in pursuing a degree in Engineering, Computer Science or Mathematics can request this type of assistance. A minimum level of achievement must be maintained to continue receiving this type of assistance. If a recipient does not pass a course, he or she may be required to pay back the funding advanced under APP.
Navy Active Duty College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
The College Level Examination Program allows sailors to write an exam to receive college credit based on their knowledge and life experience. The Program pays the fees which are usually charged to write the exam.
Writing one or more exams under CLEP can help a sailor to earn credit for introductory courses which will help him or her meet the requirements for completing a degree. It means less time spent in class and can help Navy personnel to get their available funding for education to go farther.
Navy Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
Under the Navy Veterans Educational Assistance Program, the government provides additional funds to sailors who have contributed money toward their education benefit through regular payroll deductions. The government contributes $2 for each dollar the sailor contributed to the plan. These funds can be used to help fund the cost of obtaining a certificate or degree. This Program can also be used to fund flight or on the job training.
Recipients of funding under VEAP can receive benefits for up to 36 months. The money available under VEAP must be used within 10 years of leaving active duty. At that point, any funds contributed by the sailor will be refunded and the government will take back the amount it contributed under the Veterans Educational Assistance Program.
There are a number of education benefits available to Navy personnel. A number of sailors who enlist do so partly due to the fact that they can get financial assistance to pay for their post-secondary education. Funding is offered for a number of types of programs which can prepare the student for a promotion within the Military or a career after being honourably discharged. By considering the various options available, a sailor can find the way to make the most of the funding available to him or her.