Still think you can't fully afford a college education on a military salary? Here's the kicker: the military has designed so many ways to show you that yes, you can.
While the GI Bill may not cover 100% of your higher education tuition, the armed forces is prepared to kick in the extra you may need to top-off your tuition costs with two substantial tuition programs: Tuition Assistance Top-Up and Tuition Kicker.
On October 30, 2000, an amendment to the Montgomery GI Bill, called the Tuition Assistance Top-Up, became law. And for many, it became just the kick they needed to get going into higher education.
With Top-Up, the VA can pay up to 100% of your tuition and expenses, up to DOD limits. If you're eligible for MGIB and your service branch does not pay 100% tuition and fees, Tuition Assistance Top-Up can pay the balance.
Use Top-Up if you need Tuition Assistance (TA) to complete a degree program while you're on active military duty and don't plan to continue your education after your military service; why not use your TA education benefits to complete your education right now?
Top-Up can also be helpful support if you're taking just a few courses while on active duty; then you can choose to save most of your MGIB benefits to use after your military service is completed, to apply towards completing a full-time education.
To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, you must be approved for Tuition Assistance (TA) by a military department and be eligible for MGIB-Active Duty benefits. You must be an MGIB - Active Duty participant and must have served at least 2 full years on Active Duty.
Top-Up offers 36 months of payments which can be applied to educational opportunities from full tuition to certain eligible courses. Top-Up can even apply retroactively if you're eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, back one year from the date your claim was/is received for training that began on or after October 30, 2000.
Now for an added kicker: did you know that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps each provide tuition assistance (a "kicker") in addition to what you earn through the Montgomery GI Bill?
Each service controls the amount of extra money it provides its military personnel. The Army fund increases your amount of educational support to as much as $70,000. The Navy fund increases the amount of support to as much as $50,000 The Marine Corps fund increases the amount of support to as much as $30,000. These military funds are awarded on a competitive basis according to academic merit (scoring in the top half of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery will help). To qualify, you also have to agree to serve six years in the armed forces of your choice.
Plus, the Army College Fund supplements your Montgomery GI Bill entitlement and awards up to $50,000 in education benefits to active military personnel engaged in critical specialties.
The Army College Fund (ACF) is an enlistment incentive option designed to aid in the recruitment of highly qualified soldiers for critical or shortage Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). The ACF supplements the basic Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) entitlement with up to $50,000 in education benefits if you're engaged in critical specialties.
To take advantage of The Army College Fund, just enlist for the GI Bill and ACF option. To participate, you must meet MGIB eligibility criteria, score 50 or above on your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), have your high school diploma prior to entry on active duty, and enlist for a qualifying military occupational specialty (MOS). Benefits will vary depending on your enlistment term.
Still holding back on getting a higher education? The time to get going is now.