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.
Tuition Assistance Programs
- The Tuition Assistance Program (TA) is a voluntary education benefit that covers up to 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 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 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.
The GI Bill
- 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 provision states that Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits may be transferred from service members to their dependents under certain circumstances. The entitlement must be transferred while the service member is a participating member of the military; check to learn more about specific timeframes.
- 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 Sargent 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.
Other Department of Defense (DOD) Education Benefits Programs
- 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
- State of Maine Veterans Dependents Educational Benefits, is a tuition waiver program at schools in the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System, as well as at 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.
Maine National Guard Service Members – Free In-State Tuition
- Maine National Guard Service Members may be eligible for free in-state tuition rates to the University of Maine system, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Maine Community College System and any other college or university system established as a public instrumentality in Maine.
Other Ways to Pay for College
Even though you may be eligible for military benefits, there are also other resources to help pay for college. Receipt of Veterans Benefits often doesn’t prevent you from receiving other types of financial aid, so be sure you apply for financial aid.
Many scholarships are available to veterans and adult learners. Be sure to use terms like veteran, non-traditional student, adult student and returning to school when searching for scholarships. Here are a few sites to visit:
- Military.com has a scholarships finder exclusively for the military community.
- FAMEMaine.com and select the eligibility criteria “returning to school.”
- Maine Community Foundation has over 19 adult learner scholarships.
- Maine Competitive Skills Scholarship helps workers learn new skills and succeed in a changing economy.
Be sure to ask your school about a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), where you may be able to earn credits for experiences gained outside postsecondary education. Reducing the total number of courses you have to take to earn your degree can lower your total college expenses.