Military Education Benefits
For veterans and active members of the armed forces, there are a variety of military education benefits available. In fact, there are multiple opportunities and pathways to receive educational and financial assistance to help you earn your college degree. This article will outline seven military programs to help you pursue your education. The laws and rules that govern the education assistance programs listed below are extremely complicated and are constantly changing as new legislation is passed. Therefore, the information below is meant to be a guide, but is in no way definitive, since you will need a formal decision from the VA in order to receive benefits.
- $600 Buy-Up Program
- Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Educational Benefits
- Selected Reserve Educational Benefits
- Reserve Educational Assistance
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program
- Survivors & Dependents Education Assistance
- Educational Assistance Test Program
- National Call To Service Program
- Additional Resources
In order to be considered for military educational assistance, you must have received a fully honorable discharge and have completed high school. In addition, you must meet eligibility through one of the four following ways:
- Category 1: First entered active duty after June 30, 1985, and didn’t decline the MGIB in writing upon entry into active duty
- Category 2: Have remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill (Chapter 34, title 38, U.S. Code)
- Category 3: Involuntarily separated for certain reasons or those who were separated under the VSI (Voluntary Separation Incentive) or SSB (Special Separation Benefit) program
- Category 4: Former Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) participants who elected to convert to MGIB during the open window periods, and for a small group of National Guard
$600 Buy-Up Program
Many military education assistance programs have what's called a buy-up. By contributing up to an additional $600 to the GI Bill, you will receive increased monthly benefits. For example, for an additional $600 contribution, you may receive up to $5400 in additional GI Bill benefits. The $600 Buy-up Program is offered to service members under the MGIB-AD and reservists under REAP. The additional contribution must be made while you are on active duty or for reservists, you must be a member of a Ready Reserve component (Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, or Inactive National Guard) to pay into the buy-up program. The $600.00 Buy-Up Rates lists the amounts by which your GI Bill monthly payments will be increased if you participated in the buy-up program.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
The Montgomery GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits for degree and certificate programs. You may use the benefits for:
- Technical or Vocational Courses
- Correspondence Courses
- Apprenticeship/Job Training
- Flight Training
- High-tech Training
- Licensing & Certification Tests
- Entrepreneurship Training
- Certain Entrance Examinations
Eligibility for the GI Bill requires that you have an honorable discharge and have completed high school. In addition, you must meet the requirements of one of these categories:
- Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985
- Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months
- Continuously served for 3 years, OR 2 years if that is what you first enlisted for, OR 2 years if you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served 4 years ("2 by 4" Program)
- Entered active duty before January 1, 1977
- Served at least 1 day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85, and stayed on active duty through 6/30/88, (or 6/30/87 if you entered the Selected Reserve within 1 year of leaving active duty and served 4 years)
- On 12/31/89, you had entitlement left from Vietnam-Era GI Bill
- Not eligible for MGIB under Category I or II
- On active duty on 9/30/90 AND separated involuntarily after 2/2/91,
- OR involuntarily separated on or after 11/30/93,
- OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program
- Before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1200
- On active duty on 10/9/96 AND you had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date AND you elected MGIB by 10/9/97
- OR entered full-time National Guard duty under title 32, USC, between 7/1/85, and 11/28/89 AND you elected MGIB during the period 10/9/96, through 7/8/97
- Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1200 lump-sum contribution
Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
MGIB-SR stands for Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve. The Selected Reserve includes the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. You may be entitled to receive up to 36 months of education benefits with the MGIB-SR, however, your eligibility for the program normally ends on the day you leave the Selected Reserve. To qualify for MGIB-SR, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985. If you are an officer, you must have agreed to serve six years in addition to your original obligation. For some types of training, it is necessary to have a six-year commitment that begins after September 30, 1990;
- Complete your initial active duty for training (IADT);
- Meet the requirement to receive a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before completing IADT. You may not use 12 hours toward a college degree to meet this requirement;
- Remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit. You will also retain MGIB - SR eligibility if you were discharged from Selected Reserve service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct. Your eligibility period may be extended if you are ordered to active duty.
Education assistance under this program may be used for:
- degree programs
- certificate programs
- correspondence courses
- cooperative training
- independent study programs
- apprenticeship/on-the-job training
- vocational flight training programs
- Remedial, refresher and deficiency training available under certain circumstances
Reserve Educational Assistance
The Reserve Educational Assistance, also known as REAP, provides educational assistance to Selected Reserve (Sel Res) and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) - who are called or ordered to active service in response to a war or national emergency, as declared by the President or Congress for at least 90 days after September 11, 2001. If you are eligible, you may receive education benefits or an increase in benefits. In order to maintain your eligibility, you must continue to serve as a Sel Res or IRR. Approved training under REAP includes
- graduate degrees
- undergraduate degrees
- vocational training
- technical training
- on-the-job training
- apprenticeship training
- correspondence classes
- flight training
Veterans Educational Assistance Program
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program, also known as VEAP, provides education assistance to qualified veterans. In order to be eligible for VEAP, you must meet the following requirements:
- Entered service for the first time between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985;
- Opened a contribution account before April 1, 1987;
- Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2700;
- Completed your first period of service; and
- Were discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
- If you are currently on active duty and wish to receive VEAP benefits, you must have at least 3 months of contributions available.
You may use your education benefits for:
- An undergraduate degree (including oversees programs that lead to a degree)
- A graduate degree
- Completion of a cooperative training programs or accredited independent study program
- A certificate or diploma from a business, technical, or vocational school
- An apprenticeship or on-the-job-training program offered by a company or union
- A correspondence course
- Flight training. You must have a private pilot certificate and meet the medical requirements for the desired certificate before beginning training.
- Reimbursement, up to $2,000 per test, for a test you took on or after March 1, 2001 to obtain a license or certification.
Additionally, work study benefits can help assist you as you get your accredited college degree. Opportunities for work study under VEAP include outreach work under the supervision of a VA employee, working in a VA facility, providing care to veterans at VA medical centers or state veterans homes, or doing administrative work at national or state veterans cemetery. Learn more about the Veterans Educational Assistance Program
Survivors & Dependents Education Assistance
The Survivors & Dependents Assistance (DEA), offers up to 45 months of education benefits to qualified dependents of military personnel. The educational benefits may be used for:
- College degree programs
- Certificate programs
- Apprenticeships and on-the-job training
- Correspondence courses (for spouses)
- Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances
In order to qualify, you must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:
- A veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Armed Forces.
- A veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
- A service member missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- A service member forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- A service member who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. This change is effective December 23, 2006.
If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the veteran. If you are a son or daughter of a veteran seeking to attend school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. Make sure to check with the VA to make sure the program you wish to pursue is included under your education assistance. Obtain and complete the Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance, (VA Form 22-5490). Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the State where you will train.
Educational Assistance Test Program
The Educational Assistance Test Program offers educational benefits to Benefits are available to individuals who entered on active duty after September 30, 1980, and before October 1, 1981 (or before October 1, 1982, if entry was under a delayed enlistment contract signed between September 30, 1980, and October 1, 1981). Eligibility requirements are different for Air Force personnel. Education benefits under the Educational Assistance Test Program may only be used for attaining post secondary training from an accredited college or university. To determine if the college or university you wish to attend qualifies, contact the VA regional office in the state where you will attend school. Full information on the program and educational benefits can be found in the Educational Assistance Test Program pamphlet.
National Call To Service Program
The National Call To Service Program offers education benefits for military service personnel who perform a period of national service. The program consists of three-tiers of service requirements. To qualify for incentives under the National Call to Service program, you must:
- Serve on active duty in a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense for a period of 15 months.
After this, and without a break in service, serve either
- An additional period of active duty as determined by the Secretary of Defense, or
- A period of 24 months in an active status in the Selected Reserve
After completion of this period of service, and also, without a break in service, the remaining period of obligated service specified in the agreement will be served in one of the following ways:
- On active duty in the armed forces
- In the Selected Reserve
- In the Individual Ready Reserve
- In Americorps, or another domestic national service program jointly designated by the Secretary of Defense and the head of such a program
If you do not meet these requirements, you may submit a combination of service for approval by the Secretary of the military department concerned pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense and specified in the agreement. The National Call To Service Program offers the following incentives to choose from:
- Cash bonus of $5,000
- Repayment of a qualifying student loan not to exceed $18,000
- Entitlement to allowance equal to the 3-year monthly chapter 30 rate for 12 months ($1,473 effective Oct 1, 2011)
- Entitlement to allowance equal to fifty percent of the less than 3-year monthly chapter 30 rate for 36 months (Fifty percent of $1,196 effective Oct. 1, 2011)
Learn more by checking out the National Call To Service Program FAQ sheet
In addition to the programs on this page, you may want to take a look at these military education assistance programs:
- Yellow Ribbon Program - program that covers all resident tuition and fees for those who have served a minimum of 90 combined days on active duty after September 10th, 2001
- Troops to Teachers - provides assistance to military personnel seeking to transition to teaching.
- Veterans Retraining Assistance Program - provides retraining assistance to veterans who are having a tough time finding jobs
- Post-9-11 GI Bill - provides financial support for education and housing to individuals who served in the armed forces after September 10, 2001
- Veterans Upward Bound - assists veterans in the development of academic and other requisite skills necessary for acceptance and success in a program of post-secondary education
- Military Spouse and Children Post-9/11 GI Bill Educational Benefits - information on transferring education benefits to your spouse or children
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