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Tuition Assistance (TA)

Tuition Assistance by Branch:

With the goal of building a more educated, professional national military, the United States military forces have instituted educational assistance programs aimed at helping servicemembers earn college educations while serving on active duty. These programs are referred to as Armed Forces Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA).

What Is Tuition Assistance?

TA describes the educational assistance programs adopted by the military services that pay for some or all of the tuition and fees charged for college courses for active duty personnel. This allows servicemembers to pursue a higher education during off-duty hours, either through traditional classroom courses or via distance learning and online study. The funds provided are granted to the servicemembers. They are not loans and do not count against other educational assistance programs, such as the GI Bill.

Who Can Use Tuition Assistance?

Virtually all active duty servicemembers are eligible for TA. The programs are available for both enlisted men and officers. Officers, however, incur a service obligation when using tuition assistance. They must serve at least 2 years following completion of the course, or repay the benefits. Enlisted servicemembers do not incur an obligation, and simply must make sure that the course's end date is not before the date of their separation from the military.

What Does TA Cover?

TA can be used to pay for 100 percent of the the tuition costs and mandatory fees for college courses taken through properly accredited universities. These courses can be traditional classroom courses taken through colleges on base or local colleges off base, or they can be distance learning or online courses. This provides a good deal of flexibility for servicemembers trying to earn a college degree during their off-duty hours.

TA does not cover courses that do not count toward a stated educational degree plan or courses that have already been funded by TA.

How Much Does Tuition Assistance Cover?

The specific limits of TA vary from service to service. However, the basic guidelines are that it covers 100 percent of the tuition and fees for a course, to a maximum of $225 per semester hour. TA provides no more than $4,500 in funding per fiscal year.

How Do I Apply for Tuition Assistance?

Each service has a different process for application. However, in all cases, a servicemember can get started using TA to work toward a degree by visiting his or her base education center (or, in the Navy, the College Office). Counselors are available to help the servicemember enroll in courses and apply for TA.

The process doesn't end with the application. Servicemembers who drop, add, or change courses must report these events to the education center, and may be required to provide grade statements from completed courses.

TA Programs in Different Services

The TA programs are administered separately by the individual military services, and so, while they are very similar, they also vary in their details and execution.

Army. Army TA follows the guidelines previously mentioned with few exceptions. Army TA cannot be used to pursue a degree below one that a soldier has already obtained. For example, a student with a bachelor's degree cannot use Army TA to pursue an associate's degree or a second bachelor's degree. Army TA also does not fund education beyond the master's degree level. To apply for Army TA and to begin receiving Army education benefits, go to GoArmyEd.com.

Navy and Marines. Navy TA, used by both the Navy and the Marines, has some additional limitations on the amount of education it provides in a year. Navy TA funds no more than 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours per fiscal year. In most cases, this additional stipulation doesn't have any additional impact on neither student nor perspective Navy education benefits. Marines who are first-time students must attend a TA orientation class.

Air Force. Air Force TA has limits similar to that of the Army. It cannot be used to fund courses toward a degree level lower than one the servicemember has already obtained. However, if the student has a degree from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), that degree does not count; the student can pursue a second associate's degree. Apply for Air Force education benefits through the Air Force Virtual Education Center at www.my.af.mil.

Military Tuition Assistance and Scholarship Programs

So you’ve decided it’s time to work toward your post-Army career. Why not? Thanks to online degree programs, you can get an education anywhere, any time. It doesn’t matter where you’re stationed, or even if you’re transferred. What’s more, you can earn up to 100 Army promotion points for efforts. What do you have to lose? Now you just have to figure out how to pay for it.

You’re in luck. The military offers a number of veteran education benefits for soldiers, active-duty or otherwise. Options include the Montgomery GI Bill, Tuition Assistance and military scholarships. All of these programs can fund most, if not all of your online tuition costs.

Learn More Today!