Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program

Tuition assistance top-up was created to make additions to the Military Tuition Assistance program. The original Military Tuition Assistance program was already a well-made service that offered students around 4500 US dollars in tuition and fees covered. This may be a great deal for students that are attending local schools and educational programs. But, there is often military personnel that attend colleges and schools which usually cost much more. This can lead to service members struggling to make ends meet and continue to pursue their studies. 

This is where the tuition assistance top-up program comes in. The program was created to help service members cover the additional costs that may come with attending more expensive educational programs. The Post 9/11 GI Bill could not provide service members with sufficient funds, which has led to the tuition assistance top-up plan. The program has the power to eradicate the need for military personnel to pay for fees out of their pockets. The best news is that the program is not likely to go anywhere, anytime soon. 

Before getting more in-depth with the article, it is worth noting that the tuition assistance top up program is not available to those who have applied for the Montgomery GI Bill Reserve program. 

Tuition Assistance Top Up Eligibility

If you are interested in Tuition assistance top-up, you might ask the question, “am I eligible?” Well, the odds suggest that you are. If you haven’t applied for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Reserve, this is already a first checkbox ticked on your side. You also have to be approved for the Federal Tuition Assistance program by the Military Department. This will also require eligibility for benefits regarding the GI Bill. In regards to the GI Bill, you must be a participant in the Bill, and be on active duty. If you have just started serving, things may not be all that good. Because the program requires a service member to have at least two years of service under their names. 

It would also be useful to note that the total amount of benefits you could receive is only limited to the amount you would get for the specific course via a regular GI Bill. This means you should not expect to get paid anything more. It is also impossible to get benefits that are more than the total cost of the course, even if you combine it with money given by the VA and the Military. This is especially good to know, if you were planning to complete other payments regarding your studies. 

Entitlement Charges for Top Up

Your standard GI Bill benefits are reduced in case you receive any Top-Up benefits. To fully understand the number of entitlements you will be charged regarding Top Up payments, you should see the points mentioned below:

  • In case you are benefiting from the Post-9/11 Bill, then your entitlement will be charged according to the amount of time you have spent enrolled in training. Let’s say you are attending classes half the time of your training level. In this case, you will be charged half a month of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for each month that you are attending and receiving certain GI Bill benefits. This does not count the amount of money reimbursed to you. 
  • Your entitlements will be charged in accordance with the amount of money you are paid with VA benefits. This means being charged a month of entitlement for every payment you receive. The fee is equal to the full-time monthly rate you get in regards to the GI Bill.

To get the tuition assistance top-up benefits, you will need to get a copy of the authorization form for the tuition assistance program for the course you want to attend. This form will need to have signatures of authorized officials in the Military. The form then will be given to the VA and the school you are interested in attending. Don’t forget to apply for the GI Bill via the official website if you want to benefit from the Top-Up program

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Some of the most asked question and Answers regarding the program

Is the program a good deal for me?

Well, that depends on what your future plans are. It can be a good idea if you are planning to use TA to get a degree while you are on active duty and do not want to continue the education after finishing up service. The tuition assistance top-up program is also a good idea if you’re going to take a few courses alongside the TA while you are carrying out your active duties. In this case, you can save the rest of the Montgomery GI Bill benefits to use after you have finished your military service to complete other educational programs. 

Just as with any significant decision, you will need to consider your situation carefully. You should be focused on talking with your educational officers or counselor before looking to apply for the tuition assistance top-up program. There is one thing to keep in mind after taking a more expensive course with the Top-Up plan. Will you need to take more training after you have finished your active duty as an officer? If this is the case, you might need to investigate the after-effects of taking the tuition assistance top-up the route. After doing a bit of research, you can then consider whether the remaining benefits will be able to pay for the additional training you may need. 

Are there any limits on the Top Ups that can be used?

The answer is yes, assistance top-up programs are limited to a 36-month payment. Let’s say that you are paid for a 3-month course worth of top-up benefits. In this case, you will have 33 months of the top-up left from the 36, since you have used three months. 

Will I have used all of my GI Bill benefits if I use the 36 months of Top Up that has been given?

The simple answer to this question is a Yes. You will need to be conscious about how, and where you spend your tuition assistance top-up benefits. 

Is there a chance for the Top-Up program to apply retroactively to training that has already been received?

Well, Yes. The top-up program can apply retroactively. But, you have to be eligible for the GI Bill in the first place. Even with this, the VA can go back only one year from the data that your claim was first brought in. 

What do I have to do correctly, to apply for the tuition assistance top up program?

If you are a newbie in the process and have never applied for the GI Bill, here are the steps you have to go through:

  • Firstly, talk to your educational services officers, and educational counselors. Then, request a TA from the branch of service you are currently serving in. 
  • You must then use the VA.GOV website to fill out an application regarding the VA education benefits. 

In case you have previously applied for the GI Bill, and have not been denied any benefits, you have to submit a TA approval form to the VA that has been signed by the parties involved. 

Who has to sign the TA approval forms?

It might be hard to know who has to sign the tuition assistance top up forms. But in short, the TA approval form has to be signed by approving DOD officials that are involved in the gi bill top up tuition assistance program. Some military branches may require you to have the signature of your commanding officer. In some cases, you might also need to get the signature of the education service officer. The military tuition assistance forms may require you to run around a bit, but it could be done with a little motivation. 

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Getting information regarding the Top Up rates for each year

You might have a hard time getting answers to questions regarding this topic. No one seems to know anything regarding the GI Bill top up tuition assistance program. There simply isn’t any official statistics, comments, forms, reports, or even numbers about the exact amount the military tuition assistance may cover. Your best bet will be to read some cryptic messages from the VA. Using your brain powers and asking around some questions to educational officers can help you decipher these cryptic messages. If you want to find some information online without getting down into the process, good luck because you’ll have a hard time finding what you are looking for. 

Key things to remember

The tuition assistance top up program is designed to help the men and women serving their country. The program is better than the other options regular students have across the country. You should feel lucky knowing that you will not be swimming in student loan debts for the rest of your life if you use the military tuition assistance programs. Doing thorough research regarding the topic and having a predetermined goal ahead of you can come a long way in applying for the GI Bill top-up tuition assistance benefits.