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MIlitary Educational Benefits
The military offers a variety of educational benefits for active duty servicemembers, members of the National Guard and Reserves, college students preparing for military service, veterans and military spouses and dependents. Let’s first look at educational benefits specifically for servicemembers:
- Montgomery GI Bill: This is the best-known military educational benefit. Enlisted Active Duty servicemembers can receive up to $1,075 $1,321monthly in tuition assistance for a three-year active duty commitment. The tuition assistance can be used for college, business, technical, correspondence or vocational courses, apprenticeship or job training, or flight school. Selected Reservists must agree to serve an additional six years beyond their original six year obligation and have a GED or high school diploma in order to receive GI Bill benefits. Reservists are given up to nearly $300 monthly for full-time tuition. GI Bill benefits are good for up to 10 years after an Active Duty servicemembers’ discharge or release from duty and up to 14 years after a Reservists’ discharge or separation from the military. Visit the Military.com website to learn more about GI Bill eligibility, features and payment rates.
- ROTC: Another option that some college-bound students may want to consider is the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC). The military will pay college tuition, the cost of books and a monthly allowance for ROTC members. Upon graduation ROTC members are commissioned members of the service and must serve to repay their debt.
- Loan Repayment (LRP): Each branch of the military has a loan repayment program. Through these programs eligible enlisted servicemembers can earn money toward paying off the original unpaid principal of their outstanding qualifying loans for each successfully completed year of enlisted active duty. You must apply for the program and make sure that the student loans you currently have qualify to be repaid through the program.
- Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program: This is an additional benefit to complement (add to) other tuition assistance programs. To be eligible a servicemember must be approved for federal tuition assistance and be eligible for MGIB-Active Duty benefits.
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP): This is a very limited program available to servicemembers who entered the military between 1977 – 1985 and contributed money out of their regular military pay to a designated account for specific educational opportunities (i.e. apprenticeships and vocational training programs).
- Work-Study Program: Full-time or near full-time students participating in the GI Bill, Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation program, VEAP, or DEA, and their dependents, can work a part-time job during their schooling to earn extra money.
- Tutorial Assistance Program: Anyone receiving VA benefits may be able to receive free tutoring assistance. Call toll-free 1-888-442-4551 for more information on this benefit.
In addition to these programs, each branch of the military offers unique education programs both for servicemembers’ spouses and/or their dependents. Let’s look at a few:
- Dependent Education Assistance (DEA) program: The DEA program provides up to 45 months of educational opportunities for surviving spouses and dependents of servicemembers who have died or become permanently disabled due to a service-related condition.
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) program: Colleges and schools belonging to the SOC try to ease some of the difficulties military family students have to endure with frequent moves and variations in their educational experiences and testing. They will typically accept more credits for transfer than other non-SOC member schools and not require coursework that would duplicate previous classes taken. In addition they will accept a wide variety of standardized and national tests as part of the application process.
- Scholarships, Loans and Grants: Each branch of the military makes scholarships, grants and loans available to military dependents. Check with the career counselor at your local family support center for more information on possible funding that you may qualify for.