Benefits for Specific Branches
Benefits for Specific Branches
PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek /

In addition to the educational benefits that are offered to the U.S. military as a whole, each branch of the military (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marine Corps) offers benefits to its members. Many of the educational benefits listed here are offered to enlisted service members and provide either an incentive to enlist or the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree and receive a commission. There are benefits for officers, veterans, and dependents as well, but they are fewer in number. Many branch benefits are offered to active duty service members, though reservists may find that they have options as well.

The Air Force mainly offers educational benefits to active duty airmen, but there are options for individuals serving in the reserves as well. These programs are directed at enlisted airmen, as they typically have completed less formal education than officers, who are required to have a college degree.

The educational benefits provided by the Army are pretty evenly split between active duty soldiers and reservists. Using a benefit typically incurs a service commitment (for those who are not yet in the military) or additional years of service. Many benefits are intended to supplement the GI Bill to ensure the maximum amount of financial assistance.

The Coast Guard offers benefits to both active duty and reserve members, as well as veterans and dependents. There are few grants, as the Coast Guard is the smallest branch of the military. These grants are small but can supplement money that comes from other sources, like institutional scholarships and the GI Bill.

Getting an education while serving in the Marine Corps can be tricky. Marines are often on ships or in submarines for long periods of time and have little contact with the outside world. In some cases, marines will be granted a leave of absence to complete their education, but in others, the education may be brought onto the ship. Both active duty and reserve marines will find benefits available to them.

Educational benefits offered by the Navy are, for the most part, aimed at active duty sailors. Many provide an incentive for an individual to join the Navy: loan repayment, award money to apply toward educational costs, or a supplement to the GI Bill. Others are aimed at current sailors who would like to return to college and need financial aid to do so. For a service commitment or additional years of service, there is money available for education.