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After September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress committed to increasing the education benefits for military personnel and veterans. Thanks to new initiatives like the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and the National Call to Service Incentive Program, active duty service members and veterans qualify for extensive educational assistance. In fact, the number of service members and veterans earning degrees with education benefits has increased dramatically in recent years.
VA funding extends beyond the tuition of an online social work degree, covering the cost of licensure, exams, and professional certifications.
In addition to support offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Armed Forces, and the National Guard, military personnel and their dependents qualify for scholarships offered by private organizations and groups. These programs provide financial support and help cover costs related to education, such as tuition, fees, and other expenses.
Military and veterans earning a social work degree qualify for multiple forms of financial assistance. VA funding extends beyond the tuition of an online social work degree, covering the cost of licensure, exams, and professional certifications. Read on to learn more about the financial aid opportunities available to military personnel and veterans who plan to enter the field of social work.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
The Montgomery GI Bill®
The Montgomery GI Bill provides education assistance for active duty service members, veterans, and reservists. The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) supports active duty service members and veterans, while the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) funds reservists who are actively drilling and sign up for a six-year service obligation.
How to Apply
Active duty service members and reservists may apply benefits to a college degree, a certification program, licensing and certification tests, and certain entrance exams. Recipients using MGIB-AD must use the benefits within 10 years of their release from honorable active service.
Service members and veterans with at least two years of active duty service qualify for benefits. Reservists who sign up for a six-year obligation qualify for up to 36 months of education benefits through MGIB-SR, and typically must use the benefits before leaving the reserve.
Active duty Montgomery GI Bill recipients fill out VA’s application for education benefits; reservists must provide a notice of basic eligibility, complete an application for education benefits, and file their paperwork with their school.
Post-9/11 GI Bill®
Current service members and veterans may qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill by meeting a minimum service obligation after September 10, 2001. Recipients can use the bill for tuition, training costs, and other educational expenses. The program also allows recipients to access additional funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education support.
How to Apply
This program covers many types of educational expenses, including undergraduate and graduate degrees, certifications, licensing fees, and national testing costs. VA typically pays the school directly for tuition-related expenses up to a national maximum rate.
Service members with a minimum of 90 days of active duty service or 30 days with a service-connected disability leading to honorable discharge after September 10, 2001 qualify. In some cases, unused benefits may transfer to a dependent.
Current active duty service members and veterans can check their eligibility online and apply on VA’s website. Students can also schedule an appointment with VA certifying official at their college or university, or visit a VA regional office.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill may also receive additional educational funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program, in which participating educational institutions and VA match funds. Colleges and universities make annual agreements with VA to participate in the program, and agree to support a set number of veterans.
How to Apply
Veterans who meet the eligibility guidelines for full GI Bill support qualify for additional funds for tuition and fees.
To receive Yellow Ribbon support, veterans must have 36 months of active duty service after September 10, 2001; at least 30 days of post-September 10, 2001 service with an honorable discharge due to a service-connected disability; or be dependents eligible for a transfer of entitlement under the rules of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The National Call to Service Incentive initiative, also known as the “two-year enlistment” program, provides educational incentives for service members who enroll under the agreement’s terms. Recipients can choose between cash benefits, tuition assistance, or loan repayment.
How to Apply
Service members choose one of several incentives when they enroll, including a cash bonus of $5,000, student loan repayment up to $18,000, or educational support equal to the GI Bill benefits. These include 12 months at the full GI Bill active duty rate or 36 months at 50 percent of the GI Bill active duty rate.
Recipients must complete basic training and spend approximately 24 months on active duty or in the reserve force. Service members then complete the remaining years of service obligation in active duty, the Reserves, or AmeriCorps.
Service members join the National Call to Service program when they enroll, and choose their incentive before completing basic training.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program
Intended specifically for members of the Reserve, the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides educational assistance for military personnel and veterans enrolled in educational institutions. REAP has been phased out by Congress, and no longer accepts new applicants, but beneficiaries may use their educational assistance through November 25, 2019.
How to Apply
Veterans of the Reserves can use REAP to cover tuition at an educational institution. Recipients must have applied prior to November 24, 2015.
REAP covered reservists, National Guard members, and veterans, and current REAP beneficiaries and those who applied before November 24, 2015, can continue using their educational assistance.
REAP is no longer accepting new applicants; however, in most cases, veterans can still receive educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance
The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program supports the sons, daughters, and spouses of veterans who died or are permanently and totally disabled. Children must begin using DEA benefits between the ages of 18 and 26, although active duty military may apply for an extension.
How to Apply
The DEA covers up to 45 months of education benefits for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. Remedial courses may also be covered, and spouses can also take correspondence courses.
The sons, daughters, and spouses of veterans who died, went missing in action, were captured in the line of duty, were POWs, or who have a permanent and total disability qualify for educational benefits.
The Dependents Application for VA Education Benefits is available online. Applicants may submit their paperwork at a VA regional processing office or take the application directly to their school.
* GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.