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Does Tuition Assistance Pay for the Schooling and the GI Bill Help with Cost of Living Expenses?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am confused about all the different sources of information about education benefits I am looking through. I have a couple questions that may be able to solve all of my confusion. Tuition assistance and GI Bill are two different things, right? If not, does tuition assistance pay for the schooling and GI Bill help with cost of living expenses? I am looking at enrolling at Ashworth College Online. Now the school is located in Georgia, and I live in Iowa. Do I receive GI Bill benefits for the colleges zip code or my residence zip code? And lastly, what kind of entitlement numbers would i be looking at with 2 dependents.

A: Yes the Tuition Assistance (TA) program and the GI Bill are entirely separate and different programs. TA is for use by armed forces members while they are still serving. The GI Bill of course can be used either while serving or after separating from the military. Active duty members can use both TA and their GI Bill through a program called Tuition Top-Up.

How it works is the service branch pays whole tuition, but bills the VA for the additional amount over the $250 per credit or the $4,500 cap. By law, TA can only pay up to those amounts. The VA then converts that dollar amount they paid into months and days of entitlement and deduct that amount from your unused GI Bill entitlement. While the Top-Up program does use up entitlement, it does so at a much slower rate.

If you are no longer serving, then TA would not be an option. As far as how much your GI Bill would pay, it makes a difference on which GI Bill you have. If you are using the older Montgomery GI Bill, then it would pay you monthly up to $1,473, if you had served for at least three years and are a full-time student. Out of that amount, you have to pay all your education expenses.

If you have 100% the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and Ashford is a public school, then the VA pays Ashford’s online rate of $390 per credit for tuition and eligible fees directly to your school. If you are at a lesser percentage, then the VA would pay the percentage you are authorized of that amount and you would have to pay the difference.

Because you are attending online, you would get a fixed $673.50 per month in housing allowance. With online-only students, state residency, zip codes and the number of dependents are immaterial. You would also get $41.67 per credit each semester in a book stipend.

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