Education Benefits for Army Soldiers
Making sense of the long list of Army education benefits is difficult and confusing at best. From tuition assistance programs to the GI Bill, scholarships to loans--there is a dizzying array of choices for members of the Army. Here is a step-by-step guide to Army education benefits for active members.
Army Tuition Assistance & "Top Up" program
The Army's Tuition Assistance and "Top Up" programs remain two of the most popular education benefits for servicemembers.
- Army Tuition Assistance (TA). For soldiers pursuing their educations on their off-duty time, the TA pays 100 percent of tuition and fees, up to $250 per semester credit hour with a $4,500 yearly cap.
- Tuition Assistance "Top-Up." Top-Up allows you to use some of your GI Bill education benefits to pay for tuition costs over the $250 per credit limit that TA pays. The VA pays the Army for the additional portion.
Army Voluntary Education Programs
The Army also offers a variety of education programs for servicemembers in addition to Tuition Assistance. These programs include:
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOCAD). A network of over 1,800 Army-approved colleges offering undergraduate degree programs to soldiers, spouses and dependent children. SOCAD's main selling point is the ability to transfer credits between SOCAD schools without losing credits.
- GoArmyEd. This is a virtual gateway through which colleges deliver courses to soldiers.
- eArmy. A unique distance learning program where you can declare a "home" college and degree program, but can take classes from other schools depending on your stationing.
- Concurrent Admissions Program (CONAP). A network of over 1,900 two-year and four-year military-friendly schools that give credit for military training.
Since 1944, the GI Bill has been paving the way for servicemembers to complete their college education. Today, the GI Bill exists in various forms, including:
- Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). The active duty version provides you up to 36 months of education assistance. Currently the MGIB pays $1,368 per month.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill. The main difference between the New GI Bill and the old one is that with this one, the VA pays your tuition and fees, up to the maximum in-state public school cap. You also get paid a book stipend and monthly housing allowance.
- The Army College Fund. Enlist for six years into a critical skill and get almost $40,000 in additional school money on top of what you get from either GI Bill.
Army Specific Scholarships
- State-Side Education Assistance Program (SSEAP). Available to state-side spouses, retired spouses, and widows/widowers, this annual scholarship pays recipients to attend school. The SSEAP may be awarded for up to four years.
- Overseas Education Assistance Program (OSEAP). Similar in nature to the SSEAP, except it applies only to active duty spouses stationed overseas and pays up to half of their tuition.
Federal Student Aid
The final education benefits are federally funded aid programs including loans and grants. Specific benefits include:
- College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP). If you opt for CLRP when you enlist into the Army for three years, they will re-pay up to $65,000 in existing student loans.
- Loans. The Stafford loan is the most common loan--money can come from two different programs. The programs are basically the same; however, the repayment plans differ.
- Grants. Pell grants are the basic grants to which other federal and non-federal aid is added on. Grants do not have to be paid back.
With access to various education benefits programs, you have a number of avenues to pursue a post-secondary education. Be sure you take advantage of your benefits--they can make a difference in your promotions or transition to a post-army career.
Learn more about your education benefits: