Thinking about using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for college while on active duty? With temporary suspensions of military tuition assistance (TA) programs, many service members have considered tapping into their veterans education benefits. The GI Bill is a valuable tool that can help you continue pursing your education goals. However, there are important distinctions between your benefits as veteran and as an active duty service member.
Differences in Active Duty Benefits
- While serving on active duty, military members will not receive full Post 9/11 benefits. As a veteran, benefits include:
- Payment of tuition and fees, sent directly to the school
- Monthly housing allowance sent to the veteran
- A stipend for books and supplies sent to the veteran
- A one-time $500 rural benefit for certain veterans
However, members on active duty (or their spouse if benefits were transferred) will only receive payment of tuition and applicable fees paid directly to the school. While active duty members are now eligible for the book stipend, there is no additional housing allowance.
How much money you receive is based on your time in service and the type of institution you are attending. When the Post 9/11 GI Bill was changed in 2011, active duty military member funding eligibility was affected. Instead of all active duty members receiving 100% funding for tuition and fees, the percentage of maximum benefits paid is based on your years of service. Basic eligibility includes individuals who served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after September 10, 2001. For those who have been on active duty for less than 36 months, the following table represents the percentage of tuition costs you can expect to receive:
|Member Serves:||Percentage ofMaximum BenefitPayable|
|At least 36 months||100%|
|At least 30 months, but less than 36 months||90%|
|At least 24 months, but less than 30 months||80%|
|At least 18 months, but less than 24 months||70%|
|At least 12 months, but less than 18 months||60%|
|At least 06 months, but less than 12 months||50%|
|At least 90 days, but less than 06 months||40%|
Note: The active duty time does NOT include basic and initial skills training until you reach 24 months of service.
If you have served 36 months or more, you are eligible to have all in-state tuition costs funded at any public university. If you are attending a private school, there is a national maximum cap of $18,077.50 (excluding AZ, MI, NH, NY, PA, SC, TX) per academic year. If your private school’s cost exceeds the national cap, you may be eligible to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Impact on Remaining Benefits
In addition to what and how much you receive, using your GI Bill while on active duty does impact the rate at which you use your benefits. Unlike military TA, where funding is based on actual costs ($4,500 per fiscal year cap), VA education benefits are based on months of eligibility (generally 36 months). For example, if you use $750 of TA for one class (generally, 3 semester hours) in a traditional semester (15 weeks), you would have $3,750 remaining for that fiscal year. If you took the same course and used the GI Bill to cover the costs, VA would pay the $750. However, taking three credits in a traditional semester (15 week semester) would be considered 1/4 time. Therefore, you will be charged accordingly (15 weeks = 105 days x .25 = 26 days of entitlement deducted from your 36 months of benefits). Also, you would receive the book allowance ($41.67/SH), based on level of entitlement (40%-100%).
As you can see, there are several factors to consider when choosing to use your GI Bill benefits. The VA offers a Fact Sheet and GI Bill comparison chart to assist in making an informed decision. If you are just starting school, search this site and talk to your Services local or virtual education center counselor for alternate ways to earn and pay for credit college credit before accessing your GI Bill. If you are close to completing your degree, your counselor may be able to recommend courses with shorter terms (5 to 8 weeks) to reduce the months of GI Bill benefits you use at a time.
Visit the VA or call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) for more information on their education benefits.
10. As a last resort, check out interest free education loans
9. Check out your VA education benefits for active duty (Chap 30) or (Chap 33) – if eligible
8. Talk to Education Advisors for alternative financial aid (Military Ed Counselors and your college counselor)
7. Fill out FAFSA, search for scholarships and grants
6. Check out state or specific college funding grants/scholarships, specific military unit education funding available via scholarships/grants
5. Talk to organizations that support military (e.g. American Legion) and see what is available to support your education
4. Check out OASC – and take time to review and prepare for college courses (Capitalize on JST or CCAF and know what you have achieved already that leads to your college degree – i.e. military experience and training)
3. Prepare and take CLEP or DSST examinations – know which ones will be accepted into your college program
2. Stay on TRACK – find alternate “free” online courses, professional training to keep your mind engaged (i.e. Khan Academy, DLI)
1. DON’T STOP – Even if military TA is NOT available for a while, look around, be pro-active and find other means to continue to pay for your college education.
Is it possible to take free online classes for college credit? Is it possible to get college credit without taking a class? The answer is yes! If you are a military member searching for no or low cost alternatives to gaining college credit while pursuing your degree, the resources below may prove to be a viable option for you.
1. CLEP and DSSTs Testing
Reserve, Guard, and Active Duty military members seeking a two- or four-year degree, are able to earn college credit by taking CLEP and DSST exams. The initial administration of any exam test title is free and online material is available to help you prepare. Talk to your college or university to find out which exams are appropriate and will transfer into your degree program. Depending on your school’s acceptance policy, CLEP and DSST exams can be a great way to reduce the number of college courses you need to take while earning your degree.
For more information and access to study material, visit DANTES .
2. Military Experience
Did you know that if you completed your initial military training, you already have college credit? Your professional military education, training, and occupational experiences have been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and given college credit recommendations. Your school may be able to apply these credits to your degree. To view your credits on the Joint Service Transcript (JST) visit https://jst.doded.mil/ . Air Force personnel can access http://www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf/transcripts.asp for more information.
3. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
Do you have military or civilian work experience that should be applied towards your degree? Ask your college or university advisor about how you can demonstrate your college-level knowledge and competencies through PLA. Many schools have options for students to complete exams, develop a portfolio, or have their military and workforce training recognized for college credit.
4. NCPACE for Navy Personnel
Are you a Sailor currently on a sea duty assignment? If so, the Navy College Program provides Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) which allows Sailors on sea duty assignments to continue taking college courses from accredited colleges. NCPACE provides both academic skills and college (undergraduate and graduate) courses. While these courses are tuition-free, Sailors must pay for textbooks and related course materials. Talk to your education center counselor and visit: http://www.navycollegepace.com/
5. DLPT exams
Are you fluent in English and another language? If so, you may be eligible to take the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for college credit. Talk to your college or university about applying ACE evaluated DLPT scores to satisfy foreign language, humanities, or elective credit requirements. Your Service’s local or virtual education center will be able to refer you to DLPT testing availability near you.
For additional DLPT information visit: http://www.dliflc.edu/dlptguides.html
6. Free Online Courses
To address rising tuition costs, leading colleges and universities are partnering with organizations to create massive open online courses (MOOCs) that offer free online college level coursework. While ACE is working with organizations like Coursera, to evaluate the coursework and offer college credit recommendations, students need to discuss this option with their school to ensure that the courses will count towards their degree.
Follow ACE as their MOOCs initiative progresses.
7. Lower Your Tuition Costs
If you are currently at an academic institution that is costing over $200 per semester hour, consider temporarily transferring to a lower cost institution for a few courses as a "transient student”. Traditionally, transient students took courses at other schools during the summer that transferred back to their university. If you need to lower your college funding costs, consider taking courses at a local community college or university, to transfer back to your university to satisfy degree requirements. Your local or virtual education center will be able to assist you with your local or Servicemembers Opportunity College Degree Network System (SOC DNS) options. Your school’s academic advisor will also be able to assist in making sure you have the right documentation to apply the courses to your degree.
Visit your local or virtual military education center counselor today to discuss the best options to continue your education.
This article is by Taheesha Quarells, the Education Project Manager at DANTES. With over 10 years of experience, she is dedicated to expanding academic and career development opportunities for military members, veterans, and their family members.
Please note the following phone number changes:
DANTES DSN prefix has changed to 459.
DANTES European Advisor phone numbers have changed to:
CONUS Comm 011-49-6221-57-3252
CONUS Comm Fax 011-49-6221-57-3253
DSN (314) 370-3252
DSN Fax (314) 370-3253
OCONUS Comm 49-6221-57-3252
OCONUS Comm Fax 49-6221-57-3252
Germany Comm 06221-57-3252
Germany Fax 06221-57-3253
New Department of Defense initiative Troops to Teachers is quickly becoming a win-win program for veterans and schools, as qualified service members get trained as teachers and create a safer environment for public schools. NBC’s Craig Melvin reports.
The Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard are moving to a Joint Services Transcript (JST) in March 2013 and you need to be ready! ACE is hosting a series of FREE webinars to introduce the JST.
WHEN: March 20, 2013 3:00 pm EST
WHERE: Virtual Training Session
WHAT: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs is hosting its first virtual Military Financial Educator Forum on military student loans for Personal Financial Managers, Education Service Officers and Legal Assistance Attorneys.
WHO: All installation-level personnel providing personal financial management services, offduty education counseling, and legal assistance. This interactive virtual forum will highlight military student loan servicing challenges and loan repayment options available to Service members. The forum will also give you the latest information and tools you need to help your clients with this complex issue.
Continuing education credits will be awarded if you are AFCPE certified!
Registration information coming soon.
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) has been redesigned into a comprehensive, mandatory program through the efforts of an interagency team from the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Education (ED), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Small Business Administration (SBA). The redesigned TAP, known as Transition Goals Plans Success (GPS) or Transition GPS, changes the current program from a discontinuous set of activities into a cohesive, modular, outcome based program that provides opportunities and aids in successful transition into a "career ready" civilian. Transition GPS bolsters and standardizes the transition services that Service members receive prior to separating from the military to make them employment ready as well as being prepared to enter into higher education, attend career technical training, or start their own business. Transition GPS is expected to replace the old TAP by the end of 2013.
Transition GPS is a major overhaul of the 20-year-old TAP, as part of the VOW to Hire Heroes.
Act of 2011, and includes modules on:
- Financial planning that provide information and tools to identify financial responsibilities
- Military Occupational Code (MOC) Crosswalk that translate military skills, training, and experience into civilian sector skills language
- VA Benefits Briefing that informs Service members of their veteran benefits options
- Developing an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) that is a tailored plan with supporting documents, reviewed by a transition staff member, as evidence of preparation for transition and ability to meet post-separation goals
- An improved Department of Labor Employment Workshop that provides information and assistance with developing a resume
- Optional tracks for education, career technical training and entrepreneurship
Go to http://www.turbotap.org/register.tpp for more information, FAQs, and additional resource material like printable transition guides, a Career Decision Toolkit, On-demand care transition
courses, and much more.