Army Financial Aid & Tuition Assistance for College

Army Active Duty Education Benefits

The service that members of the Armed Forces give to their country is deeply appreciated and Army personnel are entitled to a number of education benefits. The first step in finding the right program for you is to take the time to learn about your options. Whether you are on active duty, in the reserve or guard or are a veteran, financial assistance is available to help you reach your personal and professional goals.

Montgomery Bill Benefits

The provisions of the Montgomery Bill provide a number of benefits for active duty personnel. The Montgomery Bill Active Duty(MGIB-AD) allows qualified service members to receive up to 36 months of funding for educational purposes. Recruits contribute a base amount to MGIB from their regular pay during during their first 12 months of service. The money can be used either while serving or after being honorably discharged.

MGIB benefits have the advantage of offering eligible Army personnel a higher level of flexibility in choosing an educational program. They can choose to pursue a certificate, diploma or degree program from an accredited educational institution. Other education options under Montgomery Bill benefits include attending a technical or vocational school, as well as flight training.

The Montgomery Bill Buy-Up (MGIB Buy Up) program allows serving members of the Army to make extra contributions to their regular benefit funding program. The government tops up the extra contributions, which provides a higher level of financial support while studying. The extra contributions, which are a nominal amount, are then multiplied several times by the government to provide a benefit worth much more than the initial investment made by the solider.

Along with the Buy Up program, bonuses may be available to Army personnel to fund their education. The MGIB Kicker offers this opportunity to selected soldiers who have special qualifications or in recognition of people who have completed extended military contracts. Choosing the right career in the Army can qualify a soldier for these extra benefits. The money received from these bonus payments can be used up to 10 years after being honorably discharged.

Servicemen and women who are pursuing a high tech degree can take advantage of the MGIB Top Up program. This option allows them to use their TA and MGIB benefits together and can be accessed by active duty members who are enrolled in a program where the tuition is $4,500 or more.

MGIB Top Up can be a good option for personnel who are interested in continuing their education while on active duty. The program must be approved before benefits can be received and the soldier must indicate that he or she plans a career in the high tech field before funds will be provided under the MGIB Top Up program.

The New GI Bill for Army Active Duty

The New GI Bill, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, applies to servicemen and women who have a minimum of 90 days of active service after September 10, 2001. It provides reimbursement for education costs (tuition and fees) and pays out a benefit for housing and other costs.

Under the provisions of the New GI Bill, eligible servicemen and women can have the full cost of college tuition (up to the amount charged by the most expensive school in the recipient’s state of residence), as well as a stipend to pay for housing costs, books and materials. The housing benefit is available to full-time students only.

Only programs leading to a degree will be funded under the New GI Bill. This program does not provide financial assistance for people who want to obtain a certificate or who are looking at apprenticeship training. Funding may be extended for an online degree program, but the soldier would not be entitled to receive a housing benefit in this instance.

The exact level of financial aid provided depends on the length of active duty service. To qualify for full benefits, a soldier must have served at least 36 months or have been separated from the Army due to a disability. Benefits are prorated for Army personnel with a record of less than three years of active duty, ranging from 40 percent for someone with up to six months of service to 90 percent for a soldier with 30 months of service.

Tuition Assistance benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be accessed by eligible Army personnel up to 15 years after their period of service ends. Veterans who qualify for assistance may be able to transfer their benefit to their spouse or a child.

Tuition Assistance for Active Duty Army Personnel

The Army Tuition Assistance (TA) program has put in place to help defray the cost of courses taken on a voluntary basis. Army personnel who want to take courses for personal or professional improvement purposes while off duty. Some restrictions apply to who can take advantage of this benefit and what types of courses are eligible.

Active Duty Tuition Assistance benefits can be used by personnel enrolled in a degree or certificate program at accredited educational institutions. A person interested in this option can choose to take classes at a trade school, public or private college. This benefit is also available to those who enroll in an online program.

TA funds are provided based on a set amount per approved credit hour. The amount of funding that a soldier can receive is capped at a set amount each year. Recipients who are interested in taking a course which would cost more than the level of funding available under the program may need to consider supplementing their TA with MGIB benefits to get a higher amount of the cost paid.

TA is offered on the basis that the recipient will complete the funded course with a passing grade. If the student withdraws for personal reasons or doesn’t pass the course, TA funds will have to be repaid.

Another way for Army personnel to pay their post-secondary tuition is through the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). For each dollar that an eligible service member contributes, the government contributes $2 into his or her education fund. These funds may be used within 10 years of being honorably discharged. If they are not used within that time frame, the veteran will receive reimbursement for his or her personal contribution to the fund only.

Application for Financial Aid

Service members who want to further their education can take advantage of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s a necessary first step for anyone who would like to be considered for government financial aid. Military financial aid programs may cover most of the cost of obtaining a certificate, diploma or degree, but Army personnel may be able to qualify for other sources of funding to fill in the gap to cover the cost of getting an education through grants or loan programs.

Get Credit for Knowledge and Experience

One way to finish a degree program more quickly is to get credit for knowledge and experience, and Army personnel can take advantage of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Instead of taking an entire course over several weeks, participants take a test on one day. Passing the exam means the soldier receives credit and is one step closer to completing his or her program of studies.

The cost of taking an eligible exam under CLEP is covered under the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program. Military spouses and civilian employees may also qualify to have the cost of taking an exam covered under DANTES. Some exams may be written on the Base, and assistance with obtaining study materials to prepare for writing them may be available.

Tuition Payment Options for Army Personnel

The cost of post-secondary education can be a stumbling block for active duty Army personnel. The Accelerated Payment Program (APP) provides assistance in paying tuition for high-tech classes in a lump sum to cover the cost of attending classes on a semester by semester basis. Receiving funding in a larger chunk will make it easier for the recipient to pay for tuition and other costs associated with going to school.

Financial Assistance for a Service Member’s Spouse

Not all the educational benefits available to are geared toward members of the Army. A spouse of a serviceman or woman stationed overseas can apply for help through the Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP). It provides partial tuition assistance through an interest-free loan based on need to spouses studying on either a part-time or full-time basis, up to a specific annual funding cap.

Army education benefits have been put in place to provide assistance to those who wish to pursue post-secondary educational programs. Each type of program has its own eligibility requirements and restrictions on the type of programs it will fund, as well as maximum benefit levels which will be paid out. By learning about the available options, service members can choose the ones which will help them finance their education most effectively.

Air Force Tuition Assistance Programs & Financial Aid

Air Force Active Duty Education Benefits

Air Force personnel can take advantage of several types of education benefits to help them obtain a degree which will help them qualify for a higher rank in the service or to prepare for the next phase of their working life after being discharged. All eligible personnel should review their options for financial assistance carefully to ensure that they are choosing the right

Montgomery Bill Active Duty Benefits

The Montgomery Bill, or MGIB, provides educational benefits for active duty Air Force personnel. Servicemen and women establish their eligibility while on active duty status (which does not include training). The benefit is available to qualified personnel who have obtained a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) certificate.

Active duty personnel contribute $100 per month through a payroll deduction plan. Funds are withdrawn from the regular pay for 12 months. To qualify for this educational benefit, a member must have a minimum of two years of active duty service.

Choosing to obtain benefits under the MGIB offers the recipient more flexibility than other sources of funding to finance a post-secondary education program. Recipients can use the available funding to help pay for a certificate or degree program, as well as technical or vocational training.

Montgomery Bill funding is available for up to 36 months to qualified personnel and can be accessed for up to 10 years after date the serviceman or woman is honorably discharged.

New GI Bill Benefits

The New GI Bill is also called the Post-91/11 GI Bill. As the name implied, it provides educational benefits to people who have served in the Armed Forces after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Eligible airmen and women can get the full cost of a college degree covered under the GI Bill. Funding is provided to pay tuition, books and materials, and tutoring (if required). A monthly housing stipend is also included under this plan. The fee required to take a licensing exam after completing a degree may also be covered under the New GI Bill.

Funding is provided up to the level it would cost to attend the most expensive public university in the state where the recipient lives. If you wanted to attend a private school for your degree, you would still be able to receive funding up to this level and you would pay the difference personally or through student grant or loan programs.

The Post-9/11 Bill allows eligible recipients who have served for at least six years and who plan to stay in the Service for another four-year term to transfer his or her benefit to a spouse or a child.

Air Force Active Duty Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs to help pay for post-secondary education, including grants and low-interest loans. All prospective students will out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the process of applying for admission to a college or university. Filling out the form means the prospective student will be considered for multiple sources of funding offered by federal and state governments, as well as the school itself.

Air Force personnel can use these resources to supplement the education benefits they are entitled to receive under MGIB or the New GI Bill. These funds are awarded through the school and prospective students need to keep in mind that they are not required to accept all of the funding they are awarded.

If an airman or woman has a choice between topping up military educational benefits with any available grants first, as opposed to taking out a loan. A grant is a preferred method of funding, since the money does not have to be paid back.

Air Force Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA)

The Air Force Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA) program provides 100 percent tuition assistance for college and university courses up to an annual limit of $4,500. The funds can be used to pay for tuition, as well as the following expenses:

  • Computer Fees
  • Enrollment Fees
  • Lab Fees
  • Special Fees

In most cases, TA funding cannot be used to fund a degree program above a Master’s level. Exceptions may be made for some professional degrees, though. This financial assistance program can only be used by airmen and women who are currently serving and are taking classes during off-duty hours.

Air Force personnel who opt to receive TA benefits may be required to commit to a longer service obligation. Commissioned officers may have to plan to stay in the Service for an additional two years after completing their last TA-covered course.

Air Force Active Duty Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)

The General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) provides partial tuition assistance to spouses of airmen or officers on Active Duty status who are stationed overseas. Eligible spouses can receive up to $1,500 in funding per academic year to pay for up to 50 percent of tuition costs. An approved program will lead to a certificate or a degree which will help the recipient upgrade his or her employment skills.

Air Force Active Duty Accelerated Payment Program (APP)

The Accelerated Payment Program is offered under the umbrella of the Montgomery Bill benefits. Eligible servicemen and women can receive a lump sum payment to help finance their education, as opposed to smaller monthly amounts. This option is available to Air Force personnel who decide to enroll in approved high-tech educational programs and who indicate that they are planning to pursue careers in this industry. Examples of degree programs which can be funded under APP are as follows:

  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

Life science degree programs would also qualify for funding under APP, but people who are interested in studying social sciences at the post-secondary level would need to look to other education benefit programs to help defray the cost of pursuing a degree in this area of study.

The money received under APP can be used to pay for up to 60 percent of the cost of tuition for eligible programs. The recipient has the convenience of getting funding on a semester by semester basis, which should help to keep the cost more manageable.

Air Force personnel who have received funding under APP are not required to prove that they have obtained work in a high tech field after graduating from their degree program. They must maintain an acceptable minimum Grade Point Average. A recipient who fails a course will probably have to pay back the money received for that class.

Air Force Active Duty College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP allows eligible airmen and women to use their existing knowledge and/or life experience to obtain college credit. Instead of taking the time and spending money enrolling in a course, the person writes an exam. If he or she obtains a passing grade, credit for a course is given.

The program is available to provide credit for over 30 introductory level college courses. The exam may be written at over 1,700 colleges located across the United States or on military bases around the world.

Air Force personnel interested in writing an exam to get college credit can get help to prepare them for writing the test. Study guides and materials may be available at no charge through the Education Center located on your military base.

Why would someone considering upgrading their education take advantage of CLEP? Education benefits offered to Air Force personnel are generous but they are limited. Being able to get credit for one or more college-level courses means the recipient can make better use of the education benefits available to him or her. It also means the student can spend more time focusing on the courses he or she must complete to obtain a degree.

Air Force Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

VEAP supplements the money deducted from an airman or woman’s regular pay. For each dollar contributed by eligible military personnel, the government provides $2. Up to 36 months of funding can be provided under VEAP, and eligible Air Force personnel can access these funds for up to 10 years after being honorably discharged.

To be eligible for VEAP funding, an airman or woman must have contributed between $25 and $2,700 through the payroll deduction plan. The funds can be used to help pay for the cost of a certificate or degree program, as well as flight training. This money can also be used toward the cost of on-the-job training.

There are a number of Air Force education benefits available to active duty personnel. To get the most out of them, servicemen and women should consider what type of program they are interested in and which programs can provide the highest levels of funding.

Timing also matters, since there is a deadline after being discharged for obtaining financial aid to pay for the post-secondary education expenses. Air Force personnel who are interested in applying for the TA program need to keep in mind that they can only be used by currently-serving personnel.

Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Programs & Financial Aid

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.

[Read more…]

Navy Financial Aid & Tuition Assistance Programs

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]