Reserve Education Benefits
How joining the reserve can help you pay for a college degree.
Each branch of the US Armed Forces is committed to helping its service members complete a college education or receive the training they need for their career, whether they choose to stay in the military or transition to a civilian career.
Members of the Reserve have a number of education benefits exclusively for them. College funding is available for members of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Reserve, Air Force Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve. These programs can be applied for independently or, in many cases, combined to maximize your money for college.
Each branch of the Armed Forces administers its college aid programs differently, so be sure you understand the benefits for your area of service. Learn more about the major Reserve education benefits below.
What Are the Reserve Education Benefits?
Members of the Reserves are eligible for a variety of education benefits through their service in the US military. These programs allows members of the Reserve to take classes and complete degree programs at 4-year colleges and universities, community colleges, career colleges and online schools.
The types of programs include:
- Reserve Tuition Assistance -- This program pays for college tuition and approved related fees up to a specific dollar amount per fiscal year.
- Selected Reserve Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-SR) -- Through this college assistance program, you can receive up to 36 academic months (8 semesters) of money for college. This college money can be used for college courses, vocational classes, apprenticeships and on-the-job training, among other programs.
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program – This education benefits program is specifically for members of the Selected Reserve who are called into active duty as a result of war or a national incident or emergency. Eligible service members can receive up to 36 months of benefits.
Who Is Eligible for the Reserve Education Benefits?
Your eligibility for education benefits depends in part on your branch of the military, the type of degree program you’re enrolling in and the education costs at the school you’re attending. It also depends on the type of education benefit you’re seeking.
For example, while members of the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve are currently ineligible for college money through the Tuition Assistance program, they may be able to qualify through the Navy and Marine Corps’ Tuition Assistance programs instead. And to qualify for the Selected Reserve Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-SR), enlisted members must sign a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve; officers must agree to serve for 12 years.
How Much College Aid Can You Receive through the Reserve Education Benefits?
Tuition assistance can cover up to 100% of your college costs for tuition and approved fees, up to $4,500 per fiscal year.
Full-time payment at a college or university for the MGIB-SR education benefits, such as tuition, is $333 per month, with half-time payment at $165. For distance learning programs, you can receive 55% of approved charges for a course. For an apprenticeship or on-the-job training, you can earn $249.75 for the first six months, $183.15 for the next six months, and $116.55 for the rest of the program.
For REAP, the amount of college money you can receive is based on a percentage of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) rate, which is based on the number of continuous days you served on active duty.
How Do You Apply for the Reserve Education Benefits?
For many of these college funding opportunities, you have to complete an application to verify your eligibility. In some cases, you can complete this application online through your branch of the military, while other programs prefer that you fill out a printed application.
To obtain the required forms, talk to your military education counselor, a financial aid advisor at the school you want to attend or, if you’re still in high school, your guidance counselor for information on how to apply.
Reserve Education Tips & Tactics
- Keep in mind that you may be eligible for more than one type of college education aid through the Reserve, and that you can in many cases receive money for college through more than one program. Since tuition assistance covers only tuition costs, for example, applying for another type of benefit can help you cover additional costs, like books and supplies.
- Members of the Armed Forces are also eligible for other types of aid, like federal aid, state aid and private scholarships and grants. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for federal aid, and pursue state aid through the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE form.
- Contact a recruiter to learn more about the education benefits of joining the Reserve. You can find a local recruiter through each Armed Forces website: Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve.
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