Military Tuition Assistance
General Military Questions

Military Tuition Assistance

One major perk of enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces is the benefits like military tuition assistance.

Military tuition assistance is a benefit that is offered to eligible members of all military branches and may cover up to 100% of your school expenses.

Taking advantage of a new education while you serve the country is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself.

Every military branch has its own stipulations for tuition assistance eligibility.

Continue reading to learn about the criteria for the Air Force, Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

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U.S. Air Force Tuition Assistance

tuition assistance
The Air Force has outstanding tuition assistance benefits. Image: Tinker Air Force Base

The United States Air Force covers up to 100% of your tuition while taking classes as active duty or reserves.

The amount covered cannot exceed:

  • $250 per semester hour
  • $166 per quarter hour
  • $4,500 per fiscal year

The military assistance not only covers tuition but also lab fees, computer fees, enrollment fees, and special fees.

If you are interested in Air Force tuition assistance you need to complete a six-step process.

The Air Force requires applicants to create a goal and upload a degree plan.

You also need to request TA at least seven days before the first class though it is a far better idea to start earlier than that to secure funding.

Service members that utilize the tuition assistance program have 15 semester hours to establish a GPA.

From there you need to maintain a 2.0 GPA for undergraduate degrees and 3.0 GPA for graduate degrees.

USAF Tuition Assistance Requirements

It is important to maintain good grades because the Air Force requires students to reimburse the military branch if you fail a course.

The branch will also reimburse you if military duties prevent you from attending the class.

There are a few restrictions regarding USAF tuition assistance:

  • Tuition assistance is not available for courses leading to the same or lower degree level.
  • Officers with an AF-sponsored master’s degree are not eligible for TA.
  • Airmen with a CCAF degree are not eligible for TA regarding an associate’s degree yet can pursue another CCAF degree.

Air Force tuition assistance does not cover books or other non-reimbursable fees.

The GI Bill can help fund any costs that the tuition assistance program fails to address.

You can find more information about the Air Force tuition assistance program and start the application process here.

U.S. Navy Tuition Assistance

military ta
Get all of your higher learning expenses covered through Navy TA. Image: Navy.com

The U.S. Navy also covers up to 100% of tuition and fees.

The military tuition assistance program is open to active-duty and Naval reserves in AD status.

Amounts awarded cannot exceed:

  • $250 per semester hour
  • $166 per quarter hour
  • $3,000 per fiscal year

Navy TA covers tuition, lab fees, computer fees, enrollment fees, and special fees.

Enlisted reservists ordered to active duty for 120 days and reserve officers ordered to active duty for two years or more can also take advantage of the funding.

The qualifications of the U.S. Navy include:

  • Serve the Navy for at least two years.
  • Remain on active duty the entire length of the course.
  • Attend an accredited school.
  • Receive counseling through the Virtual Education Center Counselor or Navy College Office.
  • Pass the most recent Physical Fitness Assessment.
  • No NJP within six months or pending administrative separation.

It is important to note that the Navy requires you to pay back funds if you fail to pass the course.

The same rules apply when you receive a D in undergraduate courses and C in graduate courses.

Additionally, officers must remain on active duty for at least two years following completion of the courses funded by TA or they need to repay back the assistance.

Navy Tuition Assistance Details

Sailors are limited to 12 semester hours of tuition assistance per fiscal year.

The Navy caps funding at 120 semester hours for the entire career of a sailor.

You can begin the application for tuition assistance through the Navy College Program Portal.

It also helps to contact an education counselor through the Navy College Office or Virtual Education Center.

Start your application at least 30 days in advance before the first day of class.

U.S. Army Tuition Assistance

tuition assistance program
The U.S. Army offers one of the better tuition assistance programs. Image: Army.com

The U.S. Army covers up to 100% tuition and fees through its funding program.

Army tuition assistance is available to active duty, ARNG on active duty, and Army Reserves.

The amount covered cannot exceed:

  • $250 per semester hour
  • $166 per quarter hour
  • $4,000 per fiscal year

The Army also limits the tuition assistance to 16 semester hours per year.

Army TA is good for assistance with tuition, enrollment fees, lab fees, computer fees, and special fees.

The TA policy states that Army personnel cannot exceed 130 semester hours of undergraduate credit or 39 semester hours of graduate credit.

The 39 semester hour limit applies to any credits taken after completion of a baccalaureate degree.

Army Tuition Assistance Requirements

Army personnel is eligible to begin receiving tuition assistance after one year of service following Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

Meanwhile, soldiers need to have served a minimum of ten years if seeking graduate funding after already earning TA for an undergraduate degree.

Like the other military branches, the request for tuition assistance needs to get submitted and approved before the first day of class.

The Army also requires soldiers to pay back assistance if the course was not successfully completed.

The Army is like the Navy in that officers need to commit at least two years to the military branch after completing a degree.

Receive more information about Army tuition assistance (TA) through the Go Army Education Portal.

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U.S. Marine Corps Tuition Assistance

active duty tuition assistance
The Marine Corps and Air Force award the most in tuition assistance each year. Image: Marine Corps Base Hawaii

The USMC has a similar tuition assistance program to other branches of the military.

It covers up to 100% in tuition and fees with the ability to use the GI Bill to top off funding.

Marine Corps tuition assistance is limited to:

  • $250 per semester hour
  • $166 per quarter hour
  • $4,500 per fiscal year

Tuition assistance is only available to active-duty soldiers with a few exceptions for reservists on continuous active duty.

Soldiers need to have served a minimum of 24 months.

Marine TA helps finance your tuition, enrollment fees, computer and lab fees, and other special fees.

The Marine Corps limits TA to one course for first-time applicants and then soldiers may take up to two courses at a time.

You need to score a minimum General Technical (GT) score of 100 on the ASVAB or 10.2 on the TABE to qualify for funding.

The military branch also requires you to complete the Marine Corps Institute (MCI) Personal Financial Management Course.

USMC Tuition Assistance Stipulations

USMC outlines its restrictions regarding tuition assistance:

  • You can’t use TA if you have any disciplinary action (including pending matters).
  • Tuition assistance is not available for flight training courses.
  • You can’t use TA to cover the same course more than once.
  • Service members cannot request tuition assistance after the course is completed.
  • USMC funds graduate studies but not doctoral programs.

The Marine Corps only approves funding through schools that are approved by the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership.

Students need to maintain a grade of D or higher for undergraduate studies and C or higher for graduate-level courses to avoid having to repay back assistance.

Unfortunately, the financial aid program no longer covers educational costs for equipment, supplies, or exams.

The Marine Corps utilizes the same College Program Portal as the Navy for applications and educational counseling.

Visit the page to get more questions answered or make sure you apply in plenty of time for assistance financing your education.

U.S. Coast Guard Tuition Assistance

tuition assistance military
The Coast Guard doesn’t have as much funding as other military branches yet can still help you finance your entire education while serving active duty. Image: Army.com

The Coast Guard doesn’t have quite as much funding as other military branches yet it can still make a significant impact on your higher learning experience.

It covers up to 100% in tuition and fees for active duty and Reserves in AD status.

Coast Guard financial assistance limitations include:

  • $250 per semester hour
  • $166 per quarter hour
  • $2,250 per fiscal year

The Coast Guard limits TA to just tuition and lab fees.

It doesn’t cover some of the other fees that the larger military branches have the funding to support like enrollment costs and computer fees.

Regardless, it is a great way to receive assistance for expensive tuition costs.

The Coast Guard requires TA members to maintain a C or higher in undergraduate courses and B or higher for graduate courses.

Otherwise, you will need to reimburse the Coast Guard for failing to meet grade expectations based on the TA agreement.

Coast Guard TA Rules & Regulations

It is important to remember that the Coast Guard requires service members to submit a complete TA application no less than 14 days before the first class.

The Coast Guard does not make any exceptions or waivers for its deadline, so keep it in mind.

A complete TA application includes a degree plan and command approval.

Additionally, the Coast Guard caps funding at 130 semester hours for undergraduates and 40 semester hours for graduate studies.

Tuition assistance is only available for courses that lead to a first associate, bachelor, or master’s degree.

Other important restrictions to keep in mind:

  • Must be on active duty or reservist on long-term orders longer than 180 days.
  • You must demonstrate satisfactory conduct for six months prior to receiving TA.
  • You need to maintain satisfactory progress toward the completion of unit quals, work-station quals, and craft proficiency.

For more information about Coast Guard financial assistance click here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about military tuition assistance:

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Do you get free college in the military?

It is possible to attend college for free while serving the U.S. Armed Forces.

Military tuition assistance is awarded up to $4,500 each year depending on the military branch and qualifications.

Both enlisted and officers can take advantage of the outstanding benefits.

Service members may also rely on the GI Bill or The Montgomery GI Bill for additional funding to cover any costs TA fails to address.

So, depending on the degree program and college, it is possible to have your college education completely financed through the military without having to take out a single loan.

Does military tuition assistance cover flight school?

You can receive tuition assistance for flight school through the GI Bill.

However, specific military tuition assistance (TA) generally does not apply to flight school training like in the Marine Corps.

It is more intended for associate, bachelor, or graduate degree programs.

Veterans Affairs previously funded flight school yet started to slash funding for the programs in 2016.

However, the GI Bill allows you to receive funding by enrolling in a four-year aviation degree program instead of getting a flight certificate or rating.

Receiving a four-year degree also serves you well after leaving the military since it crosses over far better to flying commercially as a pilot.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides 100% in-state tuition for public schools and up to $21,970 per year for private schools.

Vocational flight training at a standalone flight school is limited to $12,554 per year.

Thus, getting a four-year aviation degree is your better choice in terms of receiving better financial assistance.

Does military tuition assistance cover grad school?

Yes, military tuition assistance expands to cover graduate school.

There are additional requirements for eligibility with the most important being maintaining good grades.

While you can get by with anything that is not failing with undergraduate studies, most military branches require you to maintain a B or C to avoid paying back TA.

However, the exact rules vary by each military branch as some are stricter than others with graduate studies.

If I serve in the National Guard / Reserves am I eligible?

Members of the National Guard are eligible for military tuition assistance.

Each military branch determines how to administer TA and will do what it can to provide financial aid.

The military branch may also introduce you to state-funded education incentives to help finance an education.

The Army National Guard (ARNG) and Air National Guard (ANG) are considered two of the best for tuition assistance.

Reservists are also eligible for TA.

Once again checking with the military branch you plan to enlist can provide more details about exact qualifications.

What’s the maximum amount of tuition assistance I can receive?

Military personnel may receive up to 100% of tuition costs and fees if it exists within the limits of the program.

Keep in mind that every military branch is slightly different.

The U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps offer the most financial aid at up to $4,500 per year (or $250 per semester hour).

The U.S. Army, Navy, and Coast Guard have comparable benefits for military tuition assistance.

Funding for any tuitions costs not covered by TA are available through the Post 9/11 GI Bill and The Montgomery GI Bill.

Conclusion

Military tuition assistance (TA) can fund up to 100% of your tuition expenses.

Every military branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own criteria for eligibility, restrictions, and application process.

Service members also utilize the GI Bill “top-up” to fund additional expenses.

Regardless, using military tuition assistance and the GI Bill “top-up” is grant money that you never have to pay back and one of the major benefits of serving the Armed Forces.

Rob V.

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