Military Students & Families
There are many education benefits available to individuals who are interested in or are currently pursuing a military career and to veterans and their dependents. It is important to learn about the benefits available to you as early as possible in your military career. Some benefits are established when you enlist, others require that you take action while enlisted, and some have time limits that may expire.
This web page will provide an overview of the various military education benefits and financial aid programs, including college and career exploration resources to help you plan for and pay for your college education.
The Tuition Assistance Program (TA) is a voluntary education benefit that covers 100% tuition and fees up to a maximum amount. The program is available in each branch of the armed forces, however, eligibility criteria vary by branch.
Tuition Assistance (TA) Top-Up Program allows eligible active duty service members to use their Montgomery GI Bill benefits to “top” tuition assistance benefits when they do not fully cover tuition and fees. The use of TA Top-up may bring the total benefit up to 100% tuition and fees, not to exceed DOD maximum or the education program’s cost of attendance.
Post 9-11 GI Bill became effective as of August 1, 2009. Eligibility is based on active duty as of September 11, 2001. The Post 9-11 GI Bill will pay tuition and fees (up to a maximum amount), housing allowance, and a books and supplies stipend. Eligibility varies based on time served.
Montgomery GI Bill pays a flat monthly fee based on time served.
If you qualify for the Post 9-11 GI Bill, you should compare your benefits under the Post 9-11 and Montgomery GI Bill to see which provides the greatest benefit to you.
Transfer of Benefits – The Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits may be transferred from service members to their dependents. The entitlement must be transferred while the service member is a participating member of the military.
Yellow Ribbon Program – The Yellow Ribbon Program supplements the Post 9-11 GI Bill by providing matching funds to participating school funds to cover tuition and fees that exceed the maximum allowable payment amount.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship amends the Post 9-11 GI Bill to include the children of service members who die in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.
College Fund Programs – GI Bill Kicker is an additional amount of money that increases an individual’s basic monthly benefit and is included in the monthly GI Bill payment. The college fund may be part of an enlistment or reenlistment contract or for other reasons. Each service branch determines who will receive the benefit and the amount they will receive.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides education benefits to reservists called to active duty post 9-11.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) benefits are available to veterans who entered service between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985 and elected to make contributions from their military pay to participate in this program. Contributions are matched on a 2:1 basis.
The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess Program helps veterans with service-connected disabilities reintegrate into the workforce. The VR&E Program, also known as Chapter 31 or Voc-Rehab provides counseling, training, education, employment and other related services. Eligible veterans must first apply for services and receive an appointment with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to determine if they are entitled to services.
Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) provides tuition benefits to children and/or spouses of veterans who died in service or as a result of service are 100% totally disabled.
Loan Repayment Programs repay student loans that enlistees have incurred prior to service. Loan repayment amounts and terms vary by service branch. For more information regarding military loan repayment programs, contact your local branch recruiter/representative.
National Call to Service Program is an incentive program that offers new enlistees a choice of financial incentives, including student loan repayment, upon completion of program service requirements.
The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA) provides financial assistance to military spouses who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment.
State of Maine Veterans Dependents Educational Benefits, administered by the Maine Bureau of Veteran’s Services, is a tuition waiver program at schools in the State of Maine University System, Community College System, and Maine Maritime Academy. Eligible applicants are children and/or spouses of veterans who died in service or as a result of service are 100% permanently and totally disabled. For more information, visit the Maine Bureau of Veteran’s Services.
You may be eligible for other types of financial aid such as federal and state aid. Financial aid comes in the form of grants and scholarships, student loans, and work study. Financial aid can help:
- Pay for college costs that are not covered by military education benefits;
- Cover the college bill while waiting for your benefits to be processed, and;
- If eligible for Post 911 GI Bill Transfer of Benefits, financial aid could help pay for your college costs allowing you to transfer benefits to your dependents.
FAME’s financial aid basics provides information on financial aid and how to apply.
Each year thousands of scholarships are available to qualified students. Scholarships have a range of eligibility criteria, including scholarships that are specifically for veterans and their dependents.
FAME has an online Maine-based scholarship search as well as links to national scholarships searches. The following scholarship resources are exclusively for the military community:
Military.com Scholarship Finder
Student Aid on the Web - Scholarships for Military Families
National Resource Directory
Use only FREE searches and never pay a fee to receive a scholarship.
Ask your school if they have any scholarships that you may be eligible to apply for. Check with any groups or organizations that you or your family members belong to and be sure to ask your employer if they have any education benefits for their employees.
Whether you are a veteran, active duty service member or prospective enlistee, choosing the right career involves having a good understanding of your current skills, interests, and abilities, setting career goals, and developing a plan to achieve them.
Use FAME’s Career Search to help you get started and for further exploration, complete a self-directed career exploration/assessment profiler.
If you are enlisting in the military, you will take an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to help determine your strengths and interests. The results of the ASVAB will directly impact the career opportunities that are available to you while enlisted.
Be sure to discuss your career goals with your recruiter and if educational opportunities and benefits are offered as an enlistment incentive, make sure that they are included and clearly outlined in your enlistment contract.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a college and it is advised that you research your options carefully. The best method and resources to use for this process might vary a bit based on your current military status. If you are a prospective enlistee, meeting with your recruiter will help you learn about the educational programs that may be available to you while you are enlisted. If you are a veteran or active service member, you will want to find out which colleges and programs offer military-friendly services and benefits.
It is recommended that you contact a college directly for information pertaining to their programs; however, there are a number of web sites on which you can do some preliminary research.
- The Maine State Approving Agency is responsible for approving programs of education and training in Maine offered to individuals that receive GI Bill benefits and maintaining a directory of these programs. The Agency also serves as a local contact for the New England Troops to Teachers Program, a program that helps eligible veterans transform their skills and talents into a teaching career.
- The FAME website has a Maine College Search for a quick view of the colleges in Maine.
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) is an organization that was established to help meet the voluntary education needs of service members. SOC Consortium is a group of over 1900 higher education institutions that have pledged to support the postsecondary educational pursuits of military and veteran students. SOC publishes the SOC Consortium Guide which provides a list of the institutional members and the military-friendly services they provide.
- The Military.com web site also maintains a search list of military-friendly schools.
- The United States Military Service Academies provide excellent postsecondary education in a military environment. With the exception of some fees, the U.S. Federal Government covers the cost of attendance for accepted students. Admissions are extremely competitive.
- Senior Military Colleges also combine education with military instruction, however, the costs are not directly covered by the federal government.
In addition, the following web sites can also help as you research colleges:
You’ve done your research, applied for financial aid, and have been accepted to college – congratulations to you!! Before you begin, make a plan that will allow you to be successful as a student that includes your life, the people and other responsibilities that are important to you. Here are some areas to think about before you begin:
Locate your Resources
- College Success Course/Workshop – Schools often offer either courses or workshops on various skills that will help you to succeed.
- Find out if there are any tutoring or study groups.
- Find out if there is a Veterans Center on campus. If there is none, consider starting one. Student Veterans of America can assist you in forming a chapter at your school.
- Find out when the library is open.
- Are there any online resources that are open to you as a student – sometimes students have free access to otherwise expensive web material. The school librarian should be able to provide more information.
- Connect with an advisor. Some schools have advisors specifically for veterans. They can help you process your education benefits.
- Do you have an area or room set up that will be your study space – does it have adequate lighting, heat/cooling, electricity, computer connectivity, etc?
- It's also important that your study space be appealing to you.
Organize your Time
- Make yourself a schedule.
- Study Time – Standard rule of thumb is two hours of study for every hour of class. This may be more or less for you, and, is likely to increase around exam time and semester end.
- Work Time – Do you work a set schedule, does your schedule vary from week to week, do you have any flex time? TIP – Schedule a vacation day during exam week. You may need it to study, and, if not, you can use it to regroup.
- Play Time – Make sure that you schedule some “off” time, especially important if you are going to work while you are a student. Scheduling the time allows you to truly take it without feeling like you are skipping out on your studies. You are doing exactly what you planned to do, relax.
- Take a study skill course and/or refresh your reading/writing skills. TIP – Adult education courses are a great way to do this. For more information, check out Maine Adult Education.
- Computer and Internet – Is your computer in good working health? How is your internet connection? If you are taking online courses, check your connection(s) to the course website.
- Organize your materials – notebooks/folders.
- Make a financial plan (budget) that includes your college expenses. FAME's Financial Education Resources page contains information and tools to help you manage your money.
Prepare your Family
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Web Site - Great resource for information on GI Bill and other military education benefits - includes online application processing, benefit calculator, "Roadmap to Success" tool.
- Today’s Military web site provides prospective recruits and their families with a good overview of the military including links to the official sites of each branch and recruiter/local office search.
- Military.com - Easy to understand comprehensive site provides information on all types of military education benefits including voluntary education programs specific to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
- Maine Bureau of Veteran's Services is dedicated to ensuring that Maine veterans and their dependents receive the benefits that they are entitled to, such as Veterans Dependents Educational Benefits. Veterans may download a copy of the Veterans Resource Guide through the Bureau's outreach initiative page, "Operation, I Served."
- Maine State Approving Agency approves programs of education and training for individuals who receive GI Bill benefits and maintains list of eligible programs.
- Wounded Warrior Project - Offers programs that meet the needs of injured service members, including education and training programs that help veterans build career skills and explore career options.
- Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) supports the educational pursuits of military and their families through academic and credentialing exams and serving as a resource of information on military-friendly education programs.
- Togus Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office web page provides contact information for Maine veterans and their dependents regarding benefits and services that may be available to them including Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E).
- Military OneSource offers a wide variety of resources including financial counseling services and education benefit program information. The service is provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to active duty, Guard and Reserve (regardless of activation status) and their families.
- Visit FAME's Important Link web page for a list of useful resources to help you plan for and pay for your education.