Educational benefits for individuals with connections to the U.S. military are not limited to the GI Bill or DANTES, or specific only to individuals who are making careers in the medical field. There are many other options for veterans, dependents, and both active duty and reserve military members. This can range from being eligible for in-state tuition in states where the living situation may be temporary to receiving extra money for tuition. Read on to learn more.


Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)

Though outdated, this program provides financial aid to veteran service members who made contributions into VEAP while serving on active duty. These service members must have begun serving between 1977 and 1985.

  • Award amount: VEAP benefits last up to 36 months depending on the number of contributions a service member made while on active duty. Benefits can be used up to 10 years after leaving active duty; money that was paid into VEAP and not used will be refunded after the ten-year time period is up. A VEAP award amount depends on the contributions (between $25 and $2,700) the service member made into VEAP. The government matches and doubles all personal contributions.
  • Eligibility: Service members must have made contributions from their military pay while on active duty to participate in this benefit program and their contribution accounts must have been opened before April 1987. Service members must have first entered the military between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985. Benefits are only available to those released from duty in any way other than dishonorably. Those still on active duty must have at least three months of contributions saved up to receive assistance.
  • Application process: Applicants must apply for educational benefits with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs either online or by mail. Veterans must attach documents detailing their releases from active duty.
  • Applicability: These benefits can apply toward degree and certificate programs, correspondence courses, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, licensing and certification courses and tests, and vocational flight training programs.

Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)

This program was ended by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016. Select individuals will remain eligible for REAP assistance until November 25, 2019. People interested in REAP benefits are now being redirected to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Post 9/11 GI Bill covers the same people who would have been covered by REAP (reservists and members of the National Guard who were called to active duty following September 10, 2001).

  • Eligibility: Service members currently receiving REAP benefits and who were attending educational institutions as of November 24, 2015 or were in school the most recent term that ended prior to November 24, 2015 will remain eligible for REAP benefits until November 2019. Service members who were not in school on or immediately prior to November 24, 2015 are not eligible for benefits. REAP is not accepting new applicants.

Tuition Assistance

Tuition Assistance is available to service members who are currently serving on active duty or in the Reserve or National Guard of any branch of the military. Service members may pursue education at accredited schools in their off-duty hours.

  • Award amount: Tuition assistance will cover up to $250 per semester hour or $166 per quarter hour of coursework at accredited institutions. The total award cannot exceed $4,500 per fiscal year. Tuition Assistance will pay for tuition but will not cover class fees, books, flight training, or retaking courses.
    • Service members who are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty or the Post 9/11 GI Bill can participate in the Tuition Assistance Top Up Program. The award amount is the difference between the total cost of a course and what is covered by Tuition Assistance. This can be used for up to 36 months and does deduct benefits from your allotment from the GI Bills.
  • Eligibility: Enlisted service members must have enough time left in their service commitments to complete the courses for which they will be using Tuition Assistance. Officers may incur additional active duty service obligations if they choose to use Tuition Assistance that will run concurrently with their current commitments. If an officer does not fulfill his or her commitment, he or she must reimburse these funds. The same goes for all service members who fail their classes.
  • Application process: Each branch of the military has a different application process. Contact your education center for more information.
  • Applicability: Eligible programs include both undergraduate and graduate studies, vocational and technical programs, and distance learning.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

Active duty soldiers who have served for at least one year in hostile fire or imminent danger areas are eligible for cancellation of up to 100% of their Perkins Loans provided their service includes the date August 14, 2008. Service members who completed their active duty commitment before August 14, 2008 are eligible for 50% cancellation of their Perkins Loans. The percentage of the loan that can be canceled depends on how long the soldier spent in a hostile zone. The first and second years account for 15% each, the third and fourth account for 20% each, and the fifth year accounts for the final 30%.

In-State Tuition Rates for Service Members and Dependents

Service members who are on active duty for at least 30 days beginning after July 1, 2009, their spouses, and their dependent children are eligible for in-state tuition at public institutions in the states where they are stationed. If the service member changes station, he or she will continue to receive in-state tuition (as will his or her spouse and dependents) provided enrollment at the school is continuous.

Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL)

Service members in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy can use the affiliated COOL website to find civilian credentials for which they qualify based on their military experience and their future employment interests. Credentials include licensures, certifications, and apprenticeships, some of which may be required for future jobs. For Army members, funding can come from Tuition Assistance or the GI Bill. The Marine Corps and Navy have funding to provide credential exam vouchers to their service members at no cost. These are given on a first-come, first-served basis. The Air Force will fund one credential per member per lifetime, up to $4,500.

U.S. Military Apprenticeship Program (Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard only)

This program will not provide financial aid but does provide valuable work experience that leads to a Certificate of Apprenticeship at no cost. Service members in the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard who are considering leaving the military may want to consider completing this apprenticeship program before they go. It provides formal training while service members are still performing their military duties. For those who are considering staying in, it may help when you are up for a promotion.

  • Eligibility: Service members must be serving on active duty in the Navy, Marine Corps, or the Coast Guard, possess high school diplomas or the equivalent, have at least one year left in their service commitments, and must be assigned to and working in authorized trades.

Page last updated: 04/2017