To help active and former servicemembers earn a college degree without ending up in significant student loan debt, there are several financial aid options available.
GI Bill Benefits
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill expanded educational benefits available for military veterans who have served active duty since September 11, 2001. To be eligible, servicemembers must have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after September 10, 2001, still be serving active duty or have been honorably discharged, or have been discharged after 30-days with a service-connected disability. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to three years of education benefits, typically payable for 15 years following active duty. This aid can help pay for such costs as books, supplies, and housing. There is also an option available for some servicemembers that allows for the transfer of unused benefits to a spouse or child. Full tuition and fees are paid directly to public, in-state colleges and universities. There is a maximum tuition level to be paid for servicemembers who choose to study at a private school, or a school located outside of the country.
Montgomery GI Bills
Other financial aid programs associated with the GI Bill include the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Montgomery GI Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). The MGIB-AD provides education benefits to veterans and servicemembers who have served at least two years of active duty. Assistance may be used to pay for costs associated with college degree programs or technical/vocational courses. Benefits are typically payable for 10 years after being honorably discharged. The MGIB-SR provides education and training benefits only to eligible members of the Selected Reserves. Funds may be used to pay for the costs associated with college degree and certificate programs, co-op training, or technical/vocational courses. Keep in mind that you may not obtain benefits from other GI Bill programs if you have already chosen to receive aid from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program
If you are receiving military tuition assistance to help pay for college courses, but it does not cover the full cost of tuition, you may be eligible for a Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program. Such programs are available to help cover the full cost of tuition. To be eligible, you must be approved for federal tuition assistance by one of the military departments and be eligible for benefits under the GI Bill.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Like a Top-Up Program, the Yellow Ribbon Program helps servicemembers to pay the full cost of their college coursework. Colleges and universities may choose to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional financial aid to cover the cost of tuition without using additional funds available from your GI Bill entitlement. Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, payment is made directly to your college or university.
With the military education aid available to help servicemembers meet their educational goals during and after service, an increasing number of men and women are are able to continue on in their civilian life with little to no debt and the education they need to be successful.