Military Tuition Assistance Programs

Are you a military member serving our country? We applaud you. Each day you spend as an active member of the United States military, you build respect, honor, and dignity to your uniform.  

Do you need military tuition assistance? Maybe you’ve thought of finishing a degree but don’t know if you can afford the tuition and fees. The military tuition assistance provides you the benefit you need to complete your degree.

As active military personnel, you qualify for extensive benefits under educational assistance. Don’t lose out on these benefits. Take advantage of the military tuition assistance today and finish your degree.

Here’s how to go about it.

What Is The Military Tuition Assistance (TA) Program?

The TA benefits qualified members of the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force, which allows you to pay up to 100 percent of your tuition and fees. Each service has a different requirement for eligibility, the application process, required service, and restrictions.

You can choose to use the GI Bill Top-up in addition to the provided military tuition assistance to cover any expensive courses. Take note that the TA is not a loan; view it as money you have earned, just like your primary salary.

What You Should Know About The GI Bill Top-up

A little information about the Top-Up benefit can be useful, especially when you plan to complete a degree program. So what is it? The GI Bill Top-up benefit provides you (GI Bill participant) an opportunity to supplement your tuition and fees that the TA could not cover. 

The amount can be the same or different from the total amount of the college course and the cost of the military tuition assistance you pay for the degree course.

You are not eligible if you are part of the Montgomery GI Bill reserve program.

Eligibility For The Top-Up Program

For you to be eligible, you must get certification by the federal Tuition Assistance offered by a military department. You must also qualify for the GI Bill benefits, still active on duty, and must have served for a minimum of two years.

Using the Top-Up can help if you decide to use the military tuition assistance to offer a degree program. At the same time, you are active on duty, and have no intention of continuing your degree after service. But you need to take time and consider your situation carefully before you apply for the Top-up.

Here’s why: If you decide to use the Top-up to offer expensive courses, you need to consider if you will continue your education after your military service. If you plan to do so, then you need to find and calculate the remaining benefits if it will cover for the additional course you plan to take after the military service.

The Military Tuition Assistance Programs

Here is a simple detailed explanation of the military tuition assistance for each service. There are military tuition assistance rules you need to qualify under each service before you get the benefit from the program.

Air Force Tuition Assistance

 Air Force TA provides 100% tuition coverage for a college course while you are still on active duty. The program pays for your entire tuition and fees as long as it does not exceed the following:

  • $166 per quarter credit hour
  • $250 per semester hour
  • $4,500 per fiscal year, maximum.

How Can you Apply?

You can apply for military tuition assistance online through the Air Force Virtual Center. Follow these six steps to complete the AFVEC online TA process:

  1. Select your reason for the request
  2. Select the name of the potential school you’ll be attending (Civilian institution). If the school is not listed, send an application by using the application form from the Education Center.
  3. Input the dates of the school term
  4. Enter the course information in the school’s course catalog
  5. Enter the registration fees
  6. Verify the TA information and submit the request

 Air Force Policies You Have to Follow

The AF requires that you develop a goal and upload a degree plan through the AFVEC website before you request for a TA. If you need help, use the Tutorials on the AFVEC site. You can use a generic academic plan for up to six semester hours before you create a degree plan.

Army Tuition Assistance

The program covers 100% of your tuition while on active duty. For you to be eligible, you should have completed a one year service successfully after Advanced Individual Training (AIT) graduation. You should be in the service for ten years to receive graduate-level military tuition assistance, if TA paid some part of undergraduate degree.

Submit the TA request and have it approved before the course starts. You will be mandated to reimburse if you are not able to complete your course. As an officer, a TA incurs Active Duty Service Obligation of two years. Reserve Component officers commit four years.

If you want more information, speak to an education services specialist in your base education center.

Required Payments

You can receive 100% reimbursement of your course cost if it does not exceed:

  • $166.67 per quarter hour
  • $250.00 per semester hour
  • 16 hours per year
  • A maximum of $4,000 per year

The limit for tuition assistance in the Army is 130-semester hours of a baccalaureate degree or undergraduate credit and 39 semester hours of master’s degree or graduate credit for post-baccalaureate degree education.

Air Force Requirement

You have to create a goal and upload a degree plan through the AFVEC website before you submit your TA. You can use a generic degree plan. But you can only use it for six semester hours until you get an assessed degree plan.

Navy Tuition Assistance

The Navy Tuition Assistance provides you 100 percent of your tuition and required fees, while you are still serving. The program is available for reservists and navy officers enlisted for active duty. You are eligible if you have been on active service for 120 days as reservists and officers, a minimum of two years.

To qualify for this benefit, you must:

  • Have a minimum of two years in service before you apply for the benefits
  • Be on active duty throughout the whole period
  • Have been enrolled in a certified school
  • Have received counseling from Virtual Education Center or Navy College Office
  • Submit all your grades from previously funded TA courses and had refunded all F and W grades.
  • Agree to remain on duty after you complete your course for two years. The requirement runs at the same time with other required service time. You will repay any TA funds spent during the previous two years of active duty if you fail to fulfill the requirement.

Required Payments

There’s a chance to reimburse up to 100% if it does not exceed:

  • $250.00 per semester hour
  • $166.67 per quarter hour
  • $3,000 per fiscal year

You are required to refund any TA’s if you had a D or lower in an undergraduate course, had a C or lower in graduate classes, or any incomplete grade.

Application Process

You can apply on the official Navy College Program website. It is essential to complete your application 30 days before the school term starts. Your TA application must get Command Approved before it goes to the VEC.

Requirements for Command Approval

  1. You must have at least one year in service on your first permanent duty station.
  2. Serve through the last day of the course on active duty
  3. Pass a recent Physical Fitness Assessment or receive a waiver
  4. If applicable, took current advancement exam and got recommended for promotion
  5. You must not have acquired an NJP for six months
  6. Not under any instruction training status

Marine Corps Tuition Assistance

The TA permits you to receive up to 100 percent of tuition fees required to take courses while you are on active duty. It is available to all marines who have been on active duty for two years of service. The TA is also available for reserve officers with two years of active service and reservists with 120 days of active duty.

The Marine Corps offers 100 percent fees not exceeding:

  • $250 semester hours
  • $166 quarter semester hours
  • $4500 fiscal year

Eligibility Requirements

  • You can only take one course if you are a first time user. Other limits are limited to at most two classes at a time
  • You should have a GT score of 100 minimum and at least a TABE score of 10.2
  • You must graduate from the Marine Corps Institute in Personal Financial Management.

Coast Guard Tuition Assistance

With the Coast Guard TA, you can receive reimbursement up to 100 percent as long as it does not exceed:

  • $166.67 per quarter hour
  • $250 per semester hour
  • $2,250 per fiscal year

The TA covers 100 percent of all your tuition and fees if you take the course while on active duty.

Application Process

You must submit a TA application form (Command Approved, degree plan uploaded) to the ETQC 14 days before the class starts. There are no waivers or exceptions to the policy.

The TA is only available to courses for Masters degrees, bachelor’s, and first associates. To qualify for the TA, you must be on active duty for more than 180 days. There are 130 semester hours for undergraduate work and 40 semester hours for graduate work for lifetime credit hour limits.

There are many benefits available for you and your family to choose from, and there is a lot of military tuition assistance to help you through the process. Each benefit has its unique benefit, so be sure to know which one best fits you.