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What Options are Available to Military Personnel in Funding Their Education?

September 22,2012 by: admin

The Armed Forces of the United States provides soldiers, marines, guardsman, airmen, and sailors many financial aid programs to encourage them in fulfilling their educational aspirations. These programs include offers up to 100% tuition assistance for courses that such military personnel undertake during off-duty hours.

The military aid for education is termed as Armed Forces Tuition Assistance. This benefit is available to all the members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. Congress has approved each service to pay their personnel up to 100% of the tuition expenses. However, each service has permission to fix specific eligibility criteria, restrictions, application process, and obligated service. The military aid for tuition assistance is invariably paid directly to the educational institution by each service.

MGIB ‘Top-Up’ Program

Active military personnel could also choose to utilize the MGIB ‘top-up’ program to cover higher costs of certain courses. This top-up program allows participants of GI Bills to use their GI Bill for supplementing the additional costs and fees not covered by the tuition assistance program. This top-up amount would be the difference between the tuition assistance amount and the total cost of the educational course.

To become eligible for this top-up assistance, your military department should approve you for federal tuition assistance and you should also have eligibility for MGIB AD benefits. You should be on active duty and should have served at least a minimum of two years in your military service to become eligible for this program. However, if you avail this top-up benefit, the regular GI Bill benefits that you receive would become reduced.

Montgomery GI Bill

You are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill assistance within 10 years after you leave the military service. However, if you belong to the category of a military veteran between 35 and 60 years of age and currently unemployed, you could qualify for one year of Montgomery GI Bill assistance. However, your discharge from the military service should be under honorable conditions to become eligible for this Montgomery GI Bill assistance. If you had received a general discharge, you should contact the Board of your service to obtain a correction of military records for getting an upgrade to your discharge character.

Post 9/11 GI Bill

If you had served a minimum of 90 days on active duty in any military service after September 11, 2001, you are eligible for post 9/11 GI Bill educational assistance. However, if your military service is less than 36 months after 9/11, the educational assistance that you receive would be lesser.

The post 9/11 GI Bill assistance is much more beneficial compared to the Montgomery GI Bill for most students. However, you should study the benefits of both schemes carefully and decide which option is better for you. For example, if you undertake an online course, your post 9/11 GI Bill living stipend assistance would become reduced by 50%. Consult a qualified educational aid advisor for utilizing your military aid for educational program.

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