Military Tuition Assistance Programs
Military Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses for semester hours costing $250 or less for its members.
Each service has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process’ and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual services.
All military and persons who wish to use Tuition Assistance (TA) must first receive approval from a local base Educational Services Officer (ESO) or counselor within the Military Service prior to enrolling.
All four service branches and the U.S. Coast Guard offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of service members’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be eligible for TA based on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.
Coverage amounts and monetary limits
The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100% of your college tuition and certain fees with the following limits
- Not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
- Not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30
Tuition Assistance versus the Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits
While the TA program is offered by the services, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of education benefit programs. Some of the VA programs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, can work well with the TA program, as it can supplement fees not covered by TA. In addition, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® funds are available to you after you leave the military. If your service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use this benefit. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit won’t expire. The TA program is a benefit that is available only while you’re in the service.
Tuition Assistance Benefits and Restrictions
Tuition assistance will cover the following expenses:
- Course-specific fees such as laboratory fee or online course fee
NOTE: All fees must directly relate to the specific course enrollment of the service member.
Tuition assistance will not cover the following expenses:
- Books and course materials
- Flight training fees
- Taking the same course twice
- Continuing education units, or CEUs
Keep in mind that TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid, if any of the following situations occur:
- Leaving the service before the course ends
- Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
- Failing the course
The GI Bill® Top-up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill® — Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill® – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds.
- Eligibility. To use Top-up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You also must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill® or the Montgomery GI Bill® — Active Duty.
- Application. First apply for TA in accordance with procedures of your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online from the VA. Make sure you specify “Top-up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.
Each military branch has its own TA application form and procedures. To find out how to get started, visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch: