Educational assistance is available to members of the military, as well as to veterans. The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) is designed for members of the Reserve that have been called or ordered to active duty. This is as a result of a response to war or a national emergency as it may have been declared by the President or the Congress. The assistance program falls under the GI Bill.
The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are responsible for determining eligibility. The Department of Veteran Affairs is responsible for administering the program and paying the benefits.
REAP is also referred to as Chapter 1607. It cannot be combined with any of the other VA educational benefits that are offered. This means that soldiers must determine which program military service should be used towards. The only exception is qualifying for the College Fund, referred to as the Chapter 1606 kicker, in which case both can be used.
The REAP Benefit Amounts
The benefit amounts are based solely on the amount of days that a soldier was activated. The REAP payment rates increase each October as a way to meet the higher costs of education.
Reserve members who served on active duty for a minimum of 90 days but did not reach one year would receive a full time rate of $589.20.
Reserve members who served on active duty for at least one year but less than two would receive a full time rate of $883.80.
Finally, those members who served on active duty for two years or more would receive a full time rate of $1178.40
These rates are based on full-time attendance at a college or university. Reduced rates would apply if a soldier decides to attend a different type of educational opportunity. This could include correspondence or flight schools, apprenticeships or certification training.
How to Meet REAP Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the REAP, a soldier must be a member of any reserve component that was called to active duty on or after the date of September 11, 2001. This falls under title 10 US Code for a contingency operation. Eligibility for Chapter 1607 requires a soldier to have served at least 90 consecutive days or more.
Another way to qualify is if a National Guard member had active duty under section 502(f) title 32 USC and had served 90 consecutive days. This will only be approved if the President or Secretary of Defense approved the duty for a national emergency and was supported by federal funds.
It is possible to qualify for the Chapter 1607 REAP Program with or without being discharged. Active duty members can also qualify, assuming they have served at least 90 consecutive days. The Department of Defense will be able to identify contingency operations to determine qualification for educational benefits under Chapter 1607.
The final way to qualify is if a soldier is a disabled member who had an illness or disease aggravated by or incurred during the line of duty and was released prior to completing 90 consecutive days. It must be that a person was released due to medical conditions or of their own accord and not due to willful misconduct.
How to Apply for REAP
Chapter 1607 claims can be made online through the Vonapp website. There are also VA regional offices that will accept applications and all supporting documents for a Chapter 1607 claim. These offices are in Atlanta, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Muskogee.
The application is VA Form 22-1990. Once this is filled out, there are also a variety of supporting documents that must either be used to fill out the form or presented. These will include the dates and service status for each period of the person’s military service. Payback time for service academy or ROTC will not count towards qualifying time.
Soldiers will also need to comment as to whether they have participated in the $600 Buy-Up Program. This is possible with the REAP. How this works is that an additional $600 contribution will result in another $5400 in GI Bill benefits towards education.
Further documents will include certificates of release of discharges from Active Duty, transcripts for all education post high school as well as the Kicker Contract. The Department of Defense may be able to supply some or all of this documentation if a soldier cannot access or cannot find the files.
Upon completion of the application and submitting all documents, the Department of Veteran Affairs will submit the information to the appropriate departments for approval. If a soldier is approved, he or she will receive a letter in the mail as to when benefits will begin. A person then has the ability to use this money toward whatever major they wish at any qualifying university or college in the country.