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If I Used Up All My Tuition Assistance for the Year, Is There Any Way to Get More?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used up all my college TA for the fiscal year. Is there any way that I can get a wavier or get more money without it having to come out of pocket. I have 4 months into my deployment and 8 more months to go. My goal was to work on getting my associate’s degree while deployed.

A: Yes there is, provided you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is called the Tuition Top-Up program. As you already know, Tuition Assistance (TA) will pay up to $250 per credit up to an annual cap of $4,500. If your per credit tuition rate costs more or if you reach your annual cap early in the academic year (such as you have done now), then the Top-Up program can help you.

How it works is your service branch will still pay all of your tuition costs, but the amount not covered by TA is sent to the VA. They reimburse your service branch for the amount not covered by TA and then convert that amount of money into months and days of entitlement. This amount of time is then deducted from your unused months of entitlement.

While the Top-Up program does reduce your GI Bill entitlement, it uses it up at a much slower rate than using the GI Bill alone. The TA/Tuition Top-Up combination is a great way to maximize your GI Bill benefits.

If you don’t qualify for the GI Bill, because you opted for Student Loan Repayment Program instead for example, then you are out of options, unless you pay for it yourself. The TA annual cap amount is not waiverable.

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