Tuition Assistance

How to Use the Military Tuition Assistance Program

If you’ve thought about going to college, but didn’t know if you could afford it, then the Military Tuition Assistance program may be just the benefit you need. The program is available to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members. While the decision to pursue a degree may be a difficult one personally, TA can lessen your financial concerns considerably.  You should also speak with your Educational Services Officer (ESO) or Educational Liaison wherever you are stationed, before enrolling as well. Your ESO can help guide you on the path to success as well as helping you understand the in's and out's of TA.


All four service branches and the U.S. Coast Guard offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of service members’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be eligible for TA based on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.

Coverage amounts and monetary limits

The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100% of your college tuition and certain fees with the following limits

  • Not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
  • Not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. 

Coverage amounts and monetary limits

Tuition assistance will cover the following expenses:

  • Tuition
  • Course-specific fees such as laboratory fee or online course fee

NOTE: All fees must directly relate to the specific course enrollment of the service member.

Tuition assistance will not cover the following expenses:

  • Books and course materials
  • Flight training fees
  • Taking the same course twice
  • Continuing education units, or CEUs

Keep in mind that TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid, if any of the following situations occur:

  • Leaving the service before the course ends
  • Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
  • Failing the course

Application process

Top-up program

The Top-up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill Chapter 30 — Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds (courses that cost more than $250 per credit hour).


To use Top-up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You also must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill Chapter 30— Active Duty.


First apply for TA in accordance with procedures of your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online from the VA. Make sure you specify “Top-up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.

How it works

Any student that desires to use Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill together is required to share their Tuition Assistance approval paperwork with the Office of Veterans Affairs. We are required to report the amount of money Tuition Assistance has contributed for tuition and fees to the VA. Students can not receive more than the cost of attendance in combined benefits from the government.

For example: 

  • Tuition and Fees  $6,000
  • Tuition Assistance $1,500
  • The remaining balance is $4,500
  • The VA will contribute up to $4,500 depending on the eligibility of the student. 

It is each student's responsibility to share this information to prevent the overpayment of benefits. All overpayment debt is the responsibility of the student.