Tuition Assistance, also known as TA, is a program run by the U.S. government that allows active duty and reserve military personnel to receive up to 100 percent of their tuition costs for free. Tuition assistance is different from the G.I. Bill, which pays for the education of an honorably discharged veteran after military service.
What Does Tuition Assistance Cover?
As the name implies, the Tuition Assistance programs are designed to ease the tuition burden on eligible students. Tuition assistance can only be used on tuition payments and, in some cases, related course fees (such as lab fees). In fact, you will not even have the option of using your tuition assistance on anything else: your school will bill directly your military office.
Each military branch has its own guidelines for which course fees are eligible to be covered by tuition assistance, so check with your military office prior to registering for courses to avoid any unexpected surprises.
What Isn’t Covered by TA?
While TA covers tuition and some course fees, it does not cover the remainder of your education expenses:
- Room and board
- Personal expenses
- Equipment and technology
Your school will deduct your tuition assistance funds directly from your tuition bill.
How Much Money Can I Get from TA?
Most military branches offer up to $250 per semester credit hour, $166 per quarter credit hour, or $4,500 per fiscal year, which lasts from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The Coast Guard deviates slightly, capping their yearly limit at $4,000.
Your military office will send to your school the funds to cover your reported tuition for the semester. Your school will only be sent funds up to the amounts listed above.
How Do I Qualify for Tuition Assistance?
Before you reap the benefits of tuition assistance, it’s important to find out if you qualify. Current and reserve Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, and National Guard personnel are all eligible for tuition assistance. However, Marines only qualify if they are currently on active duty. In addition, Reserve members and National Guard members may also receive tuition assistance based on their service eligibility.
It’s important to note that any person using tuition assistance must remain part of the reserves or on active duty through the duration of their coursework. Failure to do so could mean the forfeiture of all or part of the tuition assistance or a denial of benefits.
Tuition Assistance and Financial Aid
Applying for and using tuition assistance does not preclude servicemembers from also filing for federal financial aid. You will still be eligible for federal loans, grants, and scholarships.
File your FAFSA® to apply for federal student aid to pay the rest of your college expenses.