Active Duty Education Benefits
If you are on active duty, you have numerous military education benefits you can use. Whether you serve in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, or the Marines, there are tuition assistance programs that can help you earn your degree.
Military Tuition Assistance (TA)
TA pays 100 percent of your tuition and fees, up to $250 per semester credit hour with a $4,500 yearly cap. Each branch specifies a different way to apply for Tuition Assistance, including:
- Army: Access is through GoArmyEd
- Navy: You must attend education counseling at a Navy College Office before applying
- Marines: Marines must complete an orientation class before applying for the first time
- Air Force: Apply through the Air Force Web portal
- Coast Guard: Apply through the Coast Guard Institute
A second program is the "Top Up" program--military tuition assistance that allows you to use some of your GI Bill education benefits to pay for tuition costs not covered by Tuition Assistance.
Voluntary Education Programs
In addition to the Tuition Assistance and Top Up programs, there are a variety of voluntary education benefits programs, including:
- GoArmyEd. An virtual gateway through which colleges deliver courses and reports to soldiers and the link to eARMY courses
- eArmy. Declare a "home" college, but take classes from other schools depending on your stationing
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC). A network of over 1,950 military-approved colleges offering undergraduate degree programs. Avoid credit loss by staying within the network
- Concurrent Admissions Program (CONAP). Create a degree plan at enlistment and use your education benefits when you are ready
- Navy Advanced Education Voucher Program (AEV). Helps senior enlisted sailors earn advanced degrees in Navy-relevant topics
- Navy College-at-Sea Program (NCPACE). Sailors afloat can now continue their education via distance learning
One of the oldest and well-known military education benefits, the GI Bill was originally introduced in 1944. Today, there are multiple versions of the Bill, including the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9-11 GI Bill.
Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). For 36 months of service and a $1,200 contribution, you can get 36 months of education assistance, currently paying $1,368 per month
Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA pays your tuition and fees, up to the maximum in-state public school cap. You get up a $1,000 per year book stipend along with a monthly housing allowance
The Army College Fund. Enlist for six years into a critical skill and get almost $40,000 in additional school money along with your GI Bill
Branch Specific Scholarships
Adding to the list of voluntary education benefits programs and the GI Bill are branch specific scholarships.
- Army. State-Side Education Assistance Program (SSEAP). Awarded for up to four years, this annual scholarship can be granted to state-side spouses, retired spouses, and widows/widowers, paying them to attend school full-time
- Navy. Need-based, the Naval Special Warfare Foundation awards scholarships to dependents and spouses of active duty SEALS
- Marines. Need-based, the Travers Scholarship Program provides up to $2,000 scholarships to children or spouses of active duty Marines or spouses and children of retired Marines
- Air Force. Need-based, the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program awards $2,000 scholarships to spouses and dependent children of active duty, retired, or deceased Air Force members
- Coast Guard. For E-3 through E-9 enlisted, the $350 Enlisted Education Grant may be used with military tuition assistance
Federal Student Aid
Finally servicemembers can take advantage of other funding opportunities including student loans and grants to pay for post-secondary education. Some programs include:
Student Loan Repayment Program (LRP). If you opt for LRP at enlistment, you can get up to $65,000 in existing student loans repaid, in return for three years of service.
Loans. The most common loan, the Stafford loan can be funded from two different programs that only differ in repayment plans.
Grants. Grants do not have to be paid back--they are the basic aid to which other federal and non-federal aid is added.
With various military education benefits available, from tuition assistance to the GI Bill, voluntary programs to branch specific scholarships, there are many options for military personnel to fund your post-secondary education.