The Military Tuition Assistance Program can help you achieve your long term goals as a service member and beyond, but all too often members of the military wait until they’re out to start their educational journeys.
While every service member has a long list of reasons of why they chose to sign up, education benefits are often near the top of the list. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is an incredible resource for helping transitioning veterans pay for college or vocational training programs, but you don’t have to wait until you’re out of the military to get started. In fact you can start school right away thanks to the Military Tuition Assistance Program. Each branch offers $4,500 per year to put toward your continued education. It will not, however, cover the cost of books, flight training fees, or retaking a course.
The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100% of your college tuition and other fees within these 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
Who is eligible to use Military Tuition Assistance?
The policies pertaining to the use to Military Tuition Assistance vary a bit from branch to branch, but all active duty, National Guard, and reserve service members are eligible to utilize the program. More often than not, however, guard and reserve component members will need to be on active duty operational support orders in order to utilize the program.
In some branches, you can utilize Military Tuition Assistance as soon as you have the time to enroll in courses. Service members with a bachelor’s degree can even use Military Tuition Assistance to pursue graduate degrees, provided they meet their branch’s criteria for eligibility.
Each branch has its own rules about eligibility and usage, and we’ll explore each in this piece.
Related: 3 TIPS TO HELP VETS GET THE MOST OUT OF THE GI BILL
Military Tuition Assistance by branch
Army Tuition Assistance
Soldiers can use their tuition assistance for any courses offered by schools that are registered in GoArmyEd, are accredited by accrediting agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and are signatories to the current Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding (DOD MOU).
Classes taken can fall under the pursuit of certificate’s, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degrees — but must be used in the pursuit of a higher degree. In other words, if you have a bachelor’s degree already, you can’t use TA to see another bachelor’s degree or lower.
Army Tuition Assistance Procedures
- Soldiers’ TA enrollment requests must be submitted and approved through www.GoArmyEd.com prior to the course start date; any enrollments requested on or after the class start date will be approved as Soldier funded.
- TA is requested on a course-by-course basis, and each course must be part of an approved degree program.
- GoArmyEd will notify the Soldier, whether the TA is approved or not. If the TA request is not approved, GoArmyEd will advise the Soldier of the reason and next steps.
- All drops/withdrawals must take place through GoArmyEd. Soldiers who do not successfully complete a class will be required to repay the TA. Soldiers who are unable to successfully complete a class due to military reasons must request a Withdrawal for Military Reasons through GoArmyEd and complete all required steps to ensure that they will not be charged.
- If the Soldier wishes to take a class with a school that does not participate in the electronic GoArmyEd class schedule, a TA Request Authorization form must be completed in GoArmyEd. The TA Request Authorization will be routed to an Army Education Counselor to be reviewed and approved. Soldiers should allow extra time for this. If the TA Request Authorization is approved, the Soldier will be notified by email. Soldiers must print the approved TA Request Authorization form in GoArmyEd, provide it to the school and enroll directly with the school.
- Soldiers must acknowledge and electronically sign the TA Statement of Understanding (TA SOU) each quarter they wish to use TA.
Marine Corps Tuition Assistance
In order to be eligible to use your $4,500 worth of tuition assistance per year in the U.S. Marine Corps, you’ll need to make sure you feel the following criteria before requesting the funds:
- You must remain on active duty until the end of the course
- You must have passed your most recent PFT (or had a waiver)
- You should not have been “non-recommended” for promotion recently.
- You must complete the Personal Finance MCI course.
- Enlisted Marines must have an EAS date of greater than 6 months after the class completion date.
- Reserve Marines must have at least two years of active service beyond the completion of the course.
If you meet any of the following criteria, your request to use Tuition Assistance in the Marine Corps will be denied:
- Being NJP’d within six months
- Pending an administrative seperation
- Being assigned to a school associated with your occupational specialty or role.
Marine Corps Tuition Assistance Procedures
- Contact your Marine Corps Voluntary Education Center to receive educational counseling either in person or by phone. With your academic advisor, determine which courses will be requested for TA funding.
- To apply for Tuition Assistance electronically from any computer, complete a TA Application in WebTA listing course(s). Check with your institution to make sure the tuition amounts you listed are correct. Fees cannot be paid using TA funds.
- Start your application 60 days in advance of the term start date. You can submit your TA even before finishing your enrollment in the course at your school.
Navy Tuition Assistance
The Navy allows Sailors to pursue certificates or degrees with Tuition Assistance, but as with other branches, the course of study selected must be higher than the Sailor’s existing educational levels.
Navy eligibility for Tuition Assistance:
- Must have been onboard at least one year at first permanent duty station or granted a waiver by the CO or OIC before using TA(NAVADMIN 190/14).
- Must be on active duty for the duration of the course term.
- Attend an institution accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Prior to submitting first TA request, receive counseling from a Navy College Education Counselor from an OCONUS Navy College Office (NCO) or from the Navy College Virtual Education Center (NCVEC).
- Submit an education plan listing all courses required for program completion and receive education plan approval from a Navy College Education Counselor.
- Ensure that grades are posted in MyNavy Education for all previous TA funded courses, and reimburse TA funds for all collectible grades.
- Officers must agree to remain on active duty for at least two years from the completion date of their last TA funded course. This obligation runs concurrently with any remaining obligated service time. Officers who do not complete the required service obligation must repay the TA funds expended on their behalf during the last two years of active duty on a pro-rated basis.
There are additional requirements for Reserve Sailors:
- Must have completed one year at their Navy Operational Support Center or equivalent to use TA funds.
- Enlisted Naval Reservists must be ordered to active duty for 120 days or more and be on active duty for the duration of the course. Naval Reserve Officers must be ordered to active duty for two years beyond the course end date.
Navy Tuition Assistance Procedures
Step 1: Inform your Command
Inform your chain of command of your interest to start or continue your education.
Step 2: Complete Required Training
Sailors are required to complete two online training courses prior to using TA for the first time: the TA Policy and Procedures training AND the Virtual Counseling 101 training located in MyNavy Education under the Tuition Assistance tab.
Complete the trainings through MyNavy Education or through the Navy College Program Mobile App (Android App, iTunes App). Make sure to retain the completion certificates and upload the certificates as pdf files into MyNavy Education under “Tuition Assistance” > “Upload File.”
Step 3: Receive Education Counseling, Define Education Goals
Your Navy College Education Counselor will help guide you through the process of selecting a pathway to reach your personal and professional goals. Contact a Navy College Education Counselor.
Step 4: Submit Education Plan, Review with Navy College Counselor
Upload your education/degree plan listing the required courses for your program in MyNavy Education under “Tuition Assistance” > “Upload File.” When uploading the file, use the school name for “File Name” and the degree and major for “Description.” Contact the NCVEC or OCONUS NCO after you upload your education/degree plan for a plan review and record update.
Step 5: Submit TA Application in MyNavy Education
Once your record has been updated with the required training, counseling, and education plan, submit your TA application in MyNavy Education .
Step 6: Generate TA Voucher and Send to Institution
After your command-approved TA application is authorized by the NCVEC, a TA authorization voucher is generated. You can print your authorized TA voucher by going to “Tuition Assistance” > “Review Applications” in MyNavy Education . Print, sign, and forward the authorized/funded voucher to your academic institution for payment.
Air Force Tuition Assistance
In order to use Air Force Tuition Assistance, you’re request must be approved by your supervisor via the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC), and fall within the TA application window of 45 calendar days prior to, and no later than 7 calendar days before, the term start date.
In order to retain your Tuition Assistance benefit, all Airmen must maintain at least a 2.0 or “C” average for undergraduate degrees, and at least a “B” average for graduate course work.
Air Force Requirements and Notes
- TA will be provided for a CCAF degree regardless of your current education level.
- Airmen apply for Military Tuition Assistance on-line via AFVEC during the school’s registration period. Airmen may also call their base education office and discuss other options for applying when on TDY.
- Airmen are expected to discuss their schedule with their supervisor to ensure that participation has his/her support.
- After completing a tuition assistance request form and registering for class, Airmen may still drop/change courses without penalty as long as the course has not started and the base education office and the academic institution are notified. If Airmen drop a course after the drop / add period, they must still notify the base education office and the academic institution but are liable for the cost of tuition, unless they qualify for a waiver of tuition assistance reimbursement.
- If an Airman receives a grade of incomplete from an academic institution, he/she must clear the incomplete or reimburse the government for the full amount of tuition assistance.