How to Use the Military Tuition Assistance Program
The Military Tuition Assistance (TA) program is available to active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Component servicemembers. TA can ease your financial concerns considerably, covering up to 100 percent of tuition expenses for semester hours costing $250 or less.
Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-installation, off-installation or by distance learning. Your service branch pays your tuition directly to the school. Servicemembers need to first check with an education counselor for the specifics of TA by visiting their local installation education office or a virtual education center online. Tuition assistance may be used for the following programs:
- Independent Study
- Distance Learning
All five service branches offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of servicemembers’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be able to take advantage of TA, depending on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted servicemember must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with — not in addition to — any existing service obligation.
Coverage Amounts & Monetary Limits
The Tuition Assistance Program will fund up to 100 percent of your college tuition and certain fees within these limits:
- Not exceeding $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
- Not exceeding $4,500 per fiscal year — October 1 through September 30
Tuition Assistance Versus Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits
While the TA program is offered by the services, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of education benefit programs. Some of the VA programs, such as the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, can supplement fees not covered by TA. The TA program is a benefit that is available only while you’re in the service.
Tuition Assistance Benefits & Restrictions
TA will pay your tuition, but will not cover the following expenses:
- School fees
- Books and course materials
- Flight training fees
- Fees for repeated courses
- Continuing education units (CEUs)
TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid in any of the following situations:
- Leaving the service before the course ends
- Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
- Failing the course or otherwise not achieving a minimum course grade, as determined by the individual military branches
Each military branch operates with its own TA application form and procedures. To find out how to get started, visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch:
Prior to course enrollment, you may be required to develop an education plan or complete TA orientation. Keep the following important information in mind when you apply:
- Military TA may only be used to pursue degree programs at U.S. colleges and universities that are regionally or nationally accredited (by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education). A quick way to check the accreditation of a school is by visiting the Department of Education.
- Your service’s education center must approve your military tuition assistance before you enroll in a course.
The Top-Up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill® – Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds.
Eligibility: To use Top-Up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You must also be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill® or the Montgomery GI Bill® – Active Duty.
Application: Apply for TA in accordance with the procedures outlined by your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online via the VA. Make sure you specify “Top-Up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.
Visit the Top-Up Fact Sheet for more information.
Excerpts taken from militaryonesource.mil/-/how-to-use-the-military-tuition-assistance-program.