Army Reserve Benefits
Reservists are blessed with a number of education benefits to fund their post-secondary education programs. However, if you are a reservist, navigating the various benefits can be difficult. From Reserve Tuition Assistance to federal loans, there are plenty of benefits from which you can choose.
Reserve Tuition Assistance (TA)
The Tuition Assistance program helps you increase your professional and personal development while serving in the Selected Reserves. Reserve Tuition Assistance pays up to $250 per credit hour for you to take college courses--the $4,500 annual cap pays for 18 credits per year.<
Reserve Voluntary Education Programs
In addition to Reserve Tuition Assistance, the various branches also offer voluntary education programs. Some of these programs include:
- GoArmyEd. A portal through which soldiers sign up for TA, receive college courses, and access eArmy courses.
- eArmy. Regardless of where you drill, you declare a "home" college, but you are free to take courses from other schools and then transfer the credits.
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOCAD). If you take courses with one of the member colleges, you will not lose credits as long as your transfer within the 1,950 school network.
- Concurrent Admissions Program (CONAP). When you enlist, you can set up a college plan mapping how to use your education benefits wisely when you are ready to start school.
The Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership offers sailors a variety of rate-related degree programs through a select network of schools.
Through SMART, Marines can get credit for schools and military experience on an official transcript.
As a drilling reservist, you can take job-related technical courses through the Community College of the Air Force and earn an associate's degree.
Under "Team Coast Guard," reservists generally have the same access to education programs as do their active duty brethren.
GI Bill Reserve
Created in 1944, the GI Bill has been vital to providing opportunities for servicemembers to complete their educations. Today, the GI Bill includes education benefits for reservists as well.
Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). As long as you stay in the Reserves, you have 14 years to use MGIB-SR benefits which pay you to go to school for up to 36 months. Once discharged, however, your benefit ends.
GI Bill Reserve "Kicker." The Reserve's version of the Army College Fund, you can use it concurrently with the MGIB-SR and get paid more to go to school. To qualify, you have to enlist into certain MOSs and designated units.
GI Bill Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). If you are a Reservist mobilized for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for REAP. REAP differs from the MGIB-SR in that it eliminates the time limit to use your education benefits, however, you must still stay in the Reserves to use them.
Federal Student Aid
If you are in the Reserves, you can turn to federal student aid for assistance. There are several options, including loans and grants.
- College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP). If you have student loans at enlistment, ask about CLRP. Enlist for six years and you can get up to $40,000 worth of student loans paid off.
- Grants. If you qualify for federal and non-federal aid, it is usually added onto a Pell grant.
- Loans. With all the loans available, the Stafford loan is the most popular. There are two programs that make these funds available.
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)
ROTC is a great program, if you want to go to college, but can't afford it. How it works is you agree to earn your bachelor's degree, accept an officer commission and serve four years. In return, you get a full-tuition scholarship, or room and board, plus a monthly living expense.
From federal student aid to the GI Bill, Tuition Assistance to voluntary programs, there are various ways to fund your education through your service in the Reserves.