Did you know that you can pursue a degree while on active duty? With Military Tuition Assistance (TA) you can work on your education and career goals without even touching your GI Bill.
All branches, including the Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves can provide service members with up to 100% of the tuition amount to apply toward their education goals. Here are a few things that you need to know when applying for this benefit:
- The amount of tuition assistance across the branches is the same, however it is up to the discretion of your command how much assistance you will receive.
- Pursuing your studies is at the discretion of your Command: you must get approval.
- Each branch has different eligibility criteria.
- You can supplement Military Tuition Assistance with the GI Bill but it is not mandatory and these benefits are separate. Using the GI Bill while serving is called the “Top Up” program.
- Military Tuition Assistance is not a loan and you will not need to repay it as long as class completion requirements are met.
- You can take online courses while deployed. Whether on a ship or in the sandbox, you can work on your future goals. (Again- this is at the discretion of your Command.)
Why should you use Military Tuition Assistance?
Most military members serve mandatory enlistments of 2-6 years with the higher average for service as a career choice being 15. Most officers retire within 11 years. The chance you will have a secondary career or full-time employment is high. Why not get a jump on the next phase of your life while serving? Sadly, most service members do not take advantage of this benefit, or put it off until it’s too late. Don’t let that be you! Here are a few more benefits of pursuing your education now:
- Become a better leader: programs such as business management or psychology can help you become a stronger NCO or be prepared for your next advancement.
- Interested in going from enlisted to officer? You need a degree to be an officer, so get started now. Many service members get out of the military, use their GI Bill, and then re-enlist as an officer. This works, but consider studying while serving, and transitioning from enlisted to officer without touching your Veteran benefits.
- MOS/rate specific benefits: whether your job in the military is in engineering, technology, or chaplaincy there is always more you can learn and more certifications you can receive.
- If you get started on your education goals now, you can make your GI Bill or Vocational Rehab Veteran benefits go further.
- A degree can help transfer your military specific job into a civilian one. Your military credentials are not always recognized in the civilian world. There are some state-specific and branch-specific programs that will pay for certification transfer, mostly in the nursing and truck driving professions, but that is NOT a given.
- It can help with transition: going from the military to the civilian world can be challenging. Already having a degree can make you more employable or ready for another education program. When you go through the Transition Assistance Program, they can help you use your degree on your resume, apply for a job before your ETS, or look at future education programs.
Military Tuition Assistance by Branch
Air Force Tuition Assistance
Army Tuition Assistance
Navy Tuition Assistance
Marine Corps Tuition Assistance
Coast Guard Tuition Assistance
National Guard Tuition Assistance
Reserve Tuition Assistance
Words of Advice
As a member of the US Armed Forces, this program was set up by Congress for YOU. Far too many enlisted leave the service without a college degree or transferrable certifications. Take advantage of the Military Tuition Assistance program. Now might not be the right time for you or your Command, but at your next duty station it might be. Best of luck to you with all your future goals!
Tia Christopher is a proud US Navy Veteran. Christopher’s writing has focused on explaining military benefits in plain language and helping fellow service members transition from the military. Christopher was recognized in 2013 by the White House as a Woman Veteran Champion of Change.