Funding your tuition: military edition

November 11, 2015

More and more service members and veterans of the U.S. military are choosing to pursue higher education with the help of financial assistance programs.

In order to take advantage of the great number of benefits available through the GI Bill® and other tuition assistance programs, you first need to figure out your eligibility.

There are several funding options specifically for military service persons available through the Veterans Administration (VA), military service branches, or higher education institutions. Here is a breakdown of some of these benefits.

Veteran affairs benefits—Funding provided by the VA

Between 2000 and 2012, more than 900,000 veterans and military service members received education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A few of the VA benefits programs for military service members include:

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill® and transfer of benefits
           The Post-9/11 GI Bill®, or Chapter 33, is the newest of all the GI Bills®. It is available to service members who have served at least 90 total days of Active Duty, Title 10 or Title 32 orders since September 11, 2001. This bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits. In addition, spouses or dependents may be eligible to use Chapter 33 benefits if the qualifying service member transfers their benefits. The largest influx of service member beneficiaries occurred between 2009 and 2010, when there was a 42% increase, due in part to this bill taking effect.
  • Montgomery GI Bill® (and Selected Reserve)
           The Montgomery GI Bill®, also referred to as Chapter 30 or MGIB, provides up to 36 months of education benefits. Active duty service members may enroll in and make monthly contributions to the program, and then become eligible to receive monthly education benefit payments after completing a minimum service obligation.
Montgomery GI Bill® Selected Reserve, known as Chapter 1606 or MGIB-SR, is an education program provided to members of the Reserves or National Guard. It provides up to 36 months of education benefits with certain service requirements.
  • Reserve Educational Assistance Program
           Reserve Educational Assistance Program, or Chapter 1607, is an education program designed for Reserve or National Guard members who served on active duty (Title 10) orders for at least 90 consecutive days since September 11, 2001. The program provides up to 36 months of education benefits.

In addition to the GI Bills® listed above, you can find specific GI Bills® that are administered by the state.


Military tuition assistance—Funding through a service branch

Military TA is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service branch the ability to pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses of its members, but each branch has its own eligibility criteria, application process, and restrictions. Tuition is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual service branch.

  • Active Duty TA
           Active Duty TA with Top-up is an educational program offered to service members on active duty. It can combine the service member’s branch TA with funds from their Chapter 30 or Chapter 33 benefits. Active Duty TA can be used separately without having to use the VA’s Top-up Program. Top-Up is a program allowing GI Bill® participants to use the GI Bill® to supplement tuition and fees not covered by tuition assistance. The amount can be equal to the difference between the total cost of a college course and the amount of Tuition Assistance that is paid by the military for the course.
  • Reserve and National Guard TA
           Reserve TA is available to service members in the Reserves who are in good standing with their parent unit and service branch. Rates for the Reserve TA are the same as for active duty. National Guard TA follows the same rules and rates as the Reserve and Active Duty TA programs. Service members should talk to their school’s education office about specific eligibility requirements.


Military scholarships and additional funding options

There are multiple scholarships and additional funding options available to current service members, their family members, and veterans of all the branches of the military. To jump start your search, Capella University has compiled a few online resources to help focus your efforts.

Learn more about Capella’s military benefits.

GI Bill ® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at

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