National Guard Tuition AssistanceUpdated: August 9, 2020
Serving your country in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard reaches far beyond drill weekends, annual trainings, and community service. Today’s Guard responds in real time to natural disasters, pandemics, and deploys alongside Active Duty to theaters across the globe.
In addition to federal benefits including the GI Bill, VA Healthcare, and home loans, you are eligible for tuition assistance while serving. This program is to be completed off-duty as part of your personal and professional growth, and may not interfere with your Guard duties. Continue reading this article to learn how to apply, the exceptions, and related benefits.
National Guard TA Benefits
Tuition Assistance is a federally funded benefit. Both Army National Guard and Air National Guard are eligible, as well as all ranks including Warrant Officer. If Air National Guard members are activated as part of an Air Force Squadron, they become eligible for Air Force Tuition Assistance.
The following are what is included with National Guard Tuition Assistance:
- Degree programs including associate, bachelor’s and master’s level- provided there is available federal funding.
- 100% of tuition costs, or equal to $250 per semester hour for 16 semester hours annually or an annual cap amount of $4,000.
- There is a lifetime use limit of 130 undergraduate semester hours and 39 graduate level semester hours.
- All personnel: enlisted, Officer, and Warrant MUST complete initial AIT and basic Officer Courses before being eligible to utilize TA.
- Exceptions for courses past a master’s level include teacher certifications, chaplaincy certifications, and the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP).
- This benefit may be used in conjunction with the GI Bill; however it may not be necessary to utilize both benefits simultaneously if you diligently use your TA benefits to exhaustion before accessing your GI Bill benefits.
Please note these rules and exceptions when using your National Guard TA:
- The school, college, or university you select MUST be on the DoD’s approved school list and have signed an MOU with the DoD as part of the TA program.
- TA ONLY covers the cost of tuition. Absolutely no fees are included.
- The course you enroll in must be a part of your degree program.
- To continue receiving program funding, you must maintain a 2.0 GPA as an undergraduate and a 3.0 GPA as a graduate student.
- You must complete your federally funded TA course before your ETS.
- Officers and Warrant Officers are “subject to a four year Reserve Duty Service Obligation (RDSO) OR a two year Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO).”
- You may not use TA for a lateral degree (i.e. second associate, etc.) or for a doctorate level.
National Guard TA Eligibility Tiers
Different from Active Duty TA, the National Guard organizes service member eligibility by Tier levels. The following is an overview of how the Tier system works:
- Tier 1 is for service members who have not used TA yet and would like to pursue an AA, BA, or MA; service members who want to pursue a MA degree and did not use TA for their BA.
- Tier 2 is for service members who have graduated advanced Army training courses and for Officers, Captain Career Course or equivalent; Tier 2 also includes soldiers who want to utilize TA for a second time.
Steps for Applying for National Guard TA
- Set up an account at GoArmyEd.
- You must have your account set up BEFORE your course begins. This is not a reimbursement program.
- You are approved on a course by course basis through GoArmyEd. Whether you are approved or not approved, you will be notified by the system.
- Unless you are withdrawing from a course for military reasons, you must reimburse the DoD if you drop out. Additionally, if you do not maintain a 2.0 GPA as an undergraduate and 3.0 GPA as a graduate, you will need to repay the government.
- If your school has not signed an MOU with the DoD and is not on the approved list of schools, you may download a TA Request Authorization Form and request that your school be approved. However, there are plenty of programs on the approved list and you should weigh the effort involved in going after an unapproved program.
Additional Funding & Support
You may use your GI Bill in conjunction with TA or when your TA is exhausted (annually or by reaching the lifetime use limit). You may also apply for federal financial aid such as the Pell Grant and determine other grant and loan eligibility by filling out the FAFSA. Your school’s financial aid office can help you with this and walk you through filling out the FAFSA. Your individual Guard unit may have a designated education officer that you can refer state specific questions to or a headquarters that you can contact. Otherwise, all registration and eligibility questions must be made through GoArmyEd.
Finally, these loan reimbursement programs may help: The Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation program is government-sponsored and can cancel your current student loan debt if you have served on active duty during combat. The GWOT has deployed many Guard Units extensively, making Guard Members eligible for combat-related benefits. Programs such as The Student Loan Repayment Program (LRP) can repay part of your current education incurred debt. Each of these loan forgiveness and repayment programs have specific eligibility criteria. Talk with your school’s financial aid office about these options and other military scholarships that you may qualify for.
National Guard Tuition Assistance: In Closing
Your service as a member of the Army National Guard and Air National Guard gives you access to life changing federal benefits. Using the Tuition Assistance program can help you with your advancement goals while in the military and your career aspirations in the civilian world. In the Guard you get the best of both worlds, by being part of the military and civilian communities. Federal Tuition Assistance can help you in both parts of your life by helping you grow personally and professionally.
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.
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