What are Military Education Benefits and How Do I Use Them?
Those serving in the United States armed forces are eligible for a variety of military education benefits that can put their academic goals within reach and help them pursue or advance in their careers. This is true of both active duty and reserve members of the military. That said, figuring out the exact benefits and programs for which you're eligible can be difficult, so here’s a quick overview.
Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve Benefits
Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve members are eligible for a variety of military education benefits that can help pay for college courses in addition to covering the costs of related expenses such as textbooks and certification tests. These benefits include:
- Montgomery GI Bill: Those eligible for this program can receive up to 36 months of education benefits that are payable for 10 years following service. These benefits can cover degree and certificate programs, as well as vocational courses, on-the-job training, and licensing and certification tests. To be eligible, you must have performed at least two years of Active Duty service in the military that ended in an honorable discharge.1
- Post 9/11 GI Bill: The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of military education benefits, which can be used to cover the costs of education-related expenses. To be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you must have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service in the U.S. armed forces after September 10, 2001. You must also have either received an honorable discharge or have received a discharge to a service-related disability.2
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP): REAP is a program benefiting Reserve members of the military who are called to active service due to war or a national emergency. Like the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, REAP offers up to 36 months of full-time education benefits. To be eligible, you must have been activated for at least 90 days after September 11, 2001.
- Top Up: Top Up is a program that allows Active Duty beneficiaries of the GI Bill to use their benefits for tuition and fees that are not covered by Tuition Assistance. Top Up is limited to 36 months of benefits. To be eligible for Top Up, you must be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, in addition to being approved for federal Tuition Assistance.4
As you can see, the military education benefits available to Active Duty and Reserve members of the armed forces can cover a significant amount of your educational expenses, but it's important to note that we've only given you a brief glimpse at each of these programs.
How Can I Learn More?
Navigating your way through the military benefits and programs available for you and how best to use them can be difficult. You can learn more by speaking with fellow service members or an ESO on your base or, at Colorado Technical University, our dedicated military financial aid advisors are available to navigate your education benefits and determine the best way to fund your education.
Learn more about CTU's Military commitment: View our Military Education Guide.
1U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/mgib_ad.asp (viewed on September 9, 2015)
2U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp (viewed on September 9, 2015)
3U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/docs/pamphlets/ch1607_pamphlet.pdf (viewed on September 9, 2015)
4U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on the internet at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/tuition_assistance.asp (viewed on September 9, 2015)