Veteran’s Guide to Army Tuition Assistance

It’s well known that the military teaches some of the most valued skill sets in the corporate sector. Management, communication, leadership, team building, and organization are just a few of the most sought-after attributes.

Today, companies are actively looking for highly-skilled employees with extensive experience to fill vacant professional positions. But as the technological complexity and responsibility of these vacant position increases, the pool of qualified individuals decreases.

Many service members and veterans have the necessary practical skills and experience of these positions but lack the educational certifications that many companies require.

Fortunately, military members can now easily and affordably access quality education thanks to the educational assistance and benefits available to these particular group. One of the most helpful educational benefits programs is the Army Tuition Assistance. This program is available for active duty, Reserve Component and National Guard service members.

It is designed to help service men and women fulfill their desires of learning and improving themselves. The decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree may seem difficult, but the Army Tuition Assistance can significantly lessen your finances as it pays up to 100% of your tuition expenses for semester hours that cost less than $250.

The financial assistance can be used for degree, undergraduate, graduate, independent study, and distance learning programs (both technical and academic) and should be taken from an institution that is accredited by the Department of Education. Your specific service branch will pay for the tuition directly to your school.

Eligibility for Army Tuition Assistance

This tuition assistance can be used by active duty military service members of the Navy, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps, as well as reservists and National Guardsmen.

Service members eligible for the Army Tuition Assistance must have completed at least one year of military service following the graduation of the Advanced Individual Training. Also, members must have at least 10 years of service to receive a graduate tuition assistance if their undergraduate degree was funded by the Army Tuition Assistance.

The requests for the tuition assistance must be sent and approved before the commencement of classes – otherwise, it will be declined. Reimbursement will be required if a service member does not complete the course.

Members who use this tuition assistance incur a four-year reserve duty service obligation and a two-year active duty service obligation. This period is calculated from the date of completion of the last tuition-assisted course.

What Programs are Available for Army Tuition Assistance?

Basically, Army Tuition Assistance is supposed to be used for voluntary off-duty education in support of a service member’s personal or professional self-development goals.

This means that if you want to complete your high school diploma, take a simple certificate course, or get a Bachelor’s, Associate’s, or Master’s degree, you will be able to get support for part of the tuition costs via the Army Tuition Assistance.

The assistance cannot be used by a service member who wants to complete credentials at the same or lower level of education that they had already finished. This means that you cannot get a second degree if you initially had one nor start an Associate’s degree program (because it is at a lower level than a Bachelor’s degree).

The tuition assistance will only pay for the mandatory tuition fees associated with a student’s course enrollment. Therefore, you will not get financial assistance for other fees that are not linked to the course enrollments such as non-refundable application fees and co-curriculum fees. Basically, anything that is not “tuition” is not covered.

Currently, Military Tuition Assistance is available to both online and in-person courses. This is great if you have a busy schedule and are not able to attend classes physically.

Can You Use These Tuition Benefits Anywhere?

Not really, but there so many schools to choose from.

To accept these types of funds, universities or colleges must sign an MOU with the Department of Defense and agree to follow a predetermined set of rules related to enrolling and educating service members.

For the institutions to be eligible, they must be nationally or regionally accredited, certified to participate in state and federal student financial aid programs, approved by their respective states to accept the GI Bill, and compliant with federal authorization requirements.

There are thousands of higher learning institutions that have compiled to these requirements. You can see a full list or search an institution by name at the Department of Defense official website.

Since you will get funding for your tuition, it is important that you go for the best academic institution. Take time to research on a good school that offers quality education in your specific field of study. Academic advisors can also help you make a good decision.

How Much Does the Beneficiary Get?

The tuition assistance can offer up to $4,000 per year, but this is limited at $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour. This means that if you attend an expensive institution (that requires more than $250 per semester hour or $166 per quarter hour), you will have to pay the extra amount yourself.

In a nutshell, this tuition funding program will cover a maximum of:

  • $4,000 per financial year
  • $250 per semester credit hour
  • $166 per quarter credit hour
  • check
    39 semester hours for a Master’s or Graduate degree
  • check
    130 semester hours for a baccalaureate or undergraduate degree

A typical financial year will run from October 1st through to September 30th. So, plan your educational activities according to these dates or you could end up spending money from your own pockets.

Additionally, to prevent out-of-pocket tuition expenses, it is recommended to attend a public institution as they are more affordable and do not have a lot of mandatory non-tuition fees as private institutions. Big adversities are also not recommended because they are usually expensive (all that advertising comes at a cost).

Keep in mind that the tuition funds cannot be used for a course lower than what you pursued initially.

For a master's or graduate credit limit, the credit hours apply to all the credits taken after completion of an undergraduate degree. However, you may want to confirm whether or not this will include the credits that you took that were not funded by the Military Tuition Assistance.

Can You Use the Army Tuition and Post 9/11 GI Bill Together?

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is another common education assistance program offered to service members.

It offers educational benefits for active duty military members and veterans who have served for at least 90 days after 9/11 (September 10th, 2001). Veterans have up to 15 years from their last day on duty to participate in the program.

The beneficiaries can receive up to 36 months of tuition assistance as well as an annual stipend of up to $1,000 for books and other educational supplies. Housing benefits will depend on the location of your school.

Depending on whether you attended a private or public school and length of your service, the Post 9/11 GI Bill offers up to 100% tuition and other educational fees within your institution. To be a full beneficiary, however, you must have served for more than 3 years. For a 90-day of service, you only get 40% assistance on your tuition fees. Generally, the longer you serve, the more educational benefits you can get.

You can use the Post 9/11 tuition benefits together with the Army Tuition Assistance while on active duty. However, to fully utilize the two, it is recommended to use the Post 9/11 benefits after service and the Military Tuition Assistance while on active duty and.

If you take the Post 9/11 while still not on duty, you will not be entitled to some benefits such as additional monthly housing stipend. Depending on the location of the institution, this housing allowance can be pretty significant.

In the case you decide to use it on active duty to supplement the educational costs that are not covered by the Army Tuition Assistance, you will need to separately apply for military veteran benefits and contact your institution’s certifying officials to formally submit your enrollments into the benefits.

Military Tuition Assistance Restrictions

This educational program will only cover your tuition and other course-specific costs like online course fees and laboratory fees. It will not cover the following costs:

  • Flight training fees
  • Books and other course materials
  • Continuing education units (CEUs)
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    Retaking a course

Moreover, it will not continue to fund your tuition (and you may have to reimburse the funds already paid) if the following occurs:

  • You fail the course.
  • Quit the course for any other reason other than mission requirements, military transfer, or personal illness.
  • Leaving the military service before a course end.
Peace, American Flag, Money

So, How Do You Get Started with Army Tuition Assistance? 

Each military branch has its own tuition assistance application forms and procedures. Just head over to your local education service center or visit the education website of your military branch to get started.

The Army Tuition Assistance has made it easier to continue your education. Seize the opportunity!

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