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If I Use Tuition Top-Up While on Active Duty, Can I Still Use My Post 9/11 GI Bill After I Get Out?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I use the VA Top-Up while on active duty, can I use the Post 9/11 GI Bill if I decide to leave the service?

A: Actually, it is called Tuition Top-Up. While using Top-Up does not affect your ability to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill after you get out, it does reduce the number of months of benefits you would have left to use.

Here’s how Top-Up works. First, it is used in conjunction with Tuition Assistance (TA). Since TA pays up to $250 per credit or up to $4,500 annually, anything above those limits is paid for through Top-Up.

Your service branch pays as much of your tuition as allowed by law and then bills the VA for the amount not covered by TA. The VA in turn, converts those costs to days and months of benefits and reduces your remaining unused Post 9/11 GI Bill by that amount.

TA and Top-Up are great programs because it helps you maximize your GI Bill benefits. Why? Because TA pays most of your tuition costs, leaving very little left to come out of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

If you are not using TA, you are leaving money on the table. You should be able to use TA and Top-Up and still have benefits left to use once you are out. See your Education Counselor for more in-depth information and the TA/Top-Up procedures used by your specific military branch of service.

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