By Allison Kirschbaum

Being in the military is one of the most patriotic ways for both men and women to show their love for the country despite the dangers of the job. There are many perks when someone joins the troops, as this organization takes care of its service members. The job is a rewarding path to take, but some may move on once they choose to have a normal civilian life. In line with this, service members have numerous options on their plate. However, if someone wants to pursue their education, does the military pay for college?

While serving, there are various ways for a service member to take advantage of government benefits to finish their studies. Here are some of the programs available.

3 Ways on How Does the Military Pay for College

1. Military Tuition Assistance Program

The Tuition Assistance program by the U.S. Department of Defense is available for those who want to pursue a different career after service. This includes active service members, reserve component service members, and national guards. Although Veterans are not included, they have their program if they want a degree.

Does the military pay for college? Their assistance program will shoulder up to 100% of course-specific fees and tuition. However, there is a limit of $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour, with an annual limit of $4.500, but sometimes it can be less. The expenses are paid directly to the school, but books, housing, and other personal expenses will not be shouldered.

To get college assistance while serving, the university must be accredited and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Vocational/technical programs, distance learning, graduate programs, and two and four-year institutions are eligible for the program.

The policies on how the military pays for college are the SOPs established by the Department of Defense. But remember that each branch of the service may vary in terms of application, requirement processes, and reimbursement limits. You might want to check their website for full details.

2. The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

Another program on how the military pays for college is the MGIB-SR. This includes active Air National Guard, Army, Marine, Navy Reserve, Army National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard members. The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve offers up to 36 months of training benefits and education. For a service member to be eligible, they must have agreed to serve for six years or decided to serve for an additional six years on top of their service obligation.

Further, a service member must have completed their initial active duty for training, possess a high school diploma or certificate, and be in good standing while serving.

3. Education Assistance Top-Up Program

How does the military pay for college in this program? The top-up assistance program covers the remaining balance the Military Tuition Assistance program does not cover.

The program has two eligibility requirements: the fees and cost of the course must be more than the Tuition Assistance can cover, or prospective service members must qualify for either the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits or the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD). Plus, service members must have been active for at least two years.

Further, service members should try to apply for tuition assistance and complete the VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Top-Up benefits. Remember that if you receive the top-up benefit, it will likely reduce the GI benefits that you will receive later. This is one thing you should consider if you opt for this program.

Career Opportunities After Military Service

Service members' positions in the military allow them to serve and will enable them to grow personally. With many programs showing how the military pays for college, active-duty military personnel and reservists will have a normal life after their obligation to the country. This way, they can live as a civilian and explore other careers they always wanted.

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