The US government is prepared to support the educational goals of veterans seeking higher education. A wide variety of programs offer partial-to-full financial aid for advanced degrees. You may find yourself eligible for more than one type of education benefit, allowing you to choose the one that suits you best.
The Montgomery GI Bill provides veterans with up to 36 months of education benefits which may be applied to college, business courses, technical school, training, apprenticeships, flight school, correspondence or vocational courses. Financial assistance may include:
Years ago, the military could pay for up to 75% of higher education costs, but an amendment to the Montgomery GI Bill passed in the year 2000 allows the VA to pay 100% of your tuition and expenses. Top-up can meet the balance if you are eligible and your service branch does not pay full tuition fees. The program provides 36 months of payment which can be used in a variety of ways.
Top-up is a great deal if you use Tuition Assistance while on active duty and don’t plan to continue education or training after service; you can choose to collect your benefits now. This program is also helpful for those who wish to take occasional courses during active duty. You can choose to save most of your benefits to complete a full education once your time of service is complete.
To be eligible for Top-up, a military department must approve you for Tuition Assistance and you must be eligible for MGIB Active Duty benefits (the program is not currently available to those eligible for MGIB Selected Reserve), and have served a minimum of two years Active Duty.
VETERANS EDUCATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (VEAP)
This program increases your educational savings two to one. VEAP simply adds $2 for every $1 contribution you make. Entitlement to this benefit is from 1 to 36 months, depending on your own monthly contributions. If there are benefits left unclaimed after a ten year period, the remaining amount is automatically refunded.
VEAP benefits apply to degrees, certificates, training/apprenticeship, correspondence and vocational programs. Even certain work-study, remedial, deficiency and refresher training may qualify.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2700;
- Have completed your first period of service
- Have been discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
If you are currently on Active Duty and wish to receive VEAP benefits, you must have at least three months of contribution ready.
SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (DEA)
This program provides up to 45 months of training opportunities and education to eligible dependents: a son, daughter or spouse of a veteran who is deceased, permanently disabled from a service related injury, MIA, captured during service by a hostile force, forcibly detained or interned during active duty by a foreign government or power. Eligible sons and daughters must be between the ages of 18 and 26. Benefits toward a spouse end 10 years from the date of proclaimed eligibility or from the veteran's date of death.
When applying, make sure the program you select is approved for VA training. If you are uncertain, the VA can inform your and the school of specific requirements.
In addition to these programs, a number of schools and service aid organizations offer their own set of scholarships and grants. Be sure to search within your own branch of service for unique financial opportunities.
The United States Veterans Association created these programs with the specific needs of veterans and their dependents in mind. Don't hesitate to use these services to move ahead with your goals and secure a better life for yourself and your family.