June 2, 2017, by Cher Zevala – By joining the military, you gain a sense of duty and an overwhelming amount of honor. You gain the opportunity to see the world, experience vastly different cultures and interact with new and amazing people. And on top of all that, you gain good, reliable pay and lifelong benefits.
Perhaps the most sought-after benefits offered by the military are concerned with education. Higher education in America is neither cheap nor easy, so having the financial support of the military is a significant boon for aspiring students. However, education benefits have changed and expanded dramatically since the first GI Bill. Before you enroll in classes, you should learn more about your education benefit options.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Arguably the most extensive education benefit for service members and veterans, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is incredibly robust. Essentially, eligible members can receive paid tuition, housing, books, and more for up to four years of education at nearly any institution, including college, business, technical, and vocational schools, apprenticeships, training, and licensing programs. Plus, as with other benefits from this bill, unused education benefits can be transferred to family members.
To receive any benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you serve at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001 – or 30 days of continuous active-duty service and receive a discharge due to a service-related disability. The amount of money you receive from the bill is tiered depending on your length of active-duty service.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – a revamped version of the original 1944 GI Bill, created in 1984 – offers similar benefits to the more recent GI Bill described above. The differences are most obvious in the eligibility criteria of service members and vets, which determine the types of benefits they receive. Any member can use the MGIB after two full years of service, thereby earning up to four years of education – as long as that education costs less than $1,857 per month.
Tuition assistance has a few more stipulations than the GI Bills. Every branch of the military offers some form of tuition assistance to help service members obtain a higher education – but requirements vary between the branches. For example, to be eligible for Army tuition assistance, soldiers must have successfully completed at least one year of service for undergraduate programs or at least 10 years of service for graduate courses; comparatively, any active duty Marine is eligible for tuition assistance. Nearly across branches, tuition assistance will provide $250 per semester credit hour and $166 per quarter credit hour – not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year.
Additionally, Top-Up is a tuition assistance program for GI Bill participants. Any active duty service members whose tuition needs are not met by the GI Bill can apply for this benefit – but other GI Bill benefits might be reduced upon receiving money from Top-Up. Generally, this is an excellent program if you plan to conclude your education before you leave the military.
Tutorial Assistance Program
If you find your studies a bit over your head, you can request access to the Tutorial Assistance Program. This program is primarily available to vets receiving VA benefits at half-time or more. Rather than paying for you to acquire your own tutorial services, the VA will connect you with an appropriate tutor to ensure you receive a thorough education.
Loan Repayment Program
If you have already attended higher education and racked up insurmountable debt, the military may be able to help. The Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force all have loan repayment programs (LRPs) that may partially or fully repay your student loans – as long as they are in good standing, and you haven’t defaulted.
Your eligibility for an LPR may depend on many factors, including the branch you enroll in and your contract terms. Therefore, you should discuss your loans with your Education Services Officer while you consider joining the military.
Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance Program
If you are permanently disabled during active duty – or during a service-related incident – your dependents might be eligible for assistance with education costs. Alternatively, if you are the dependent of a service member who was lost during active duty, you can apply for the same benefit. The Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEA) provides up to $1,021 per month for full-time students seeking degrees, certifications, apprenticeships, and training.
Finally, if you are working while studying full time, the military wants to reward you even further. Supplied by the VA, the Work-Study Program provides an hourly wage equivalent to the federal minimum wage – and schools supplement that with additional hourly income. Even better, you might choose to receive 40 percent of your wages in advance to pay for books, housing, or any expenses not covered by the GI Bills and Tuition Assistance Program. Work-Study is available to dependents and survivors, as well.
Author Bio: Cher Zavala is a content coordinator who assists in contributing quality articles on various topics including career advice, education, and business development. Cher has built up many strong relationships over the years within the blogging community and loves sharing her useful tips with others.