If you are a reservist in the United States Armed Forces, you may be eligible for Federal and/or State Tuition Assistance, as well as other educational programs that will help you to fund your higher education plans.
This Guide to Tuition Assistance & Educational Programs for Reservists will help you to better understand your rights and how to make them most of them to best provide for your educational future.
Each branch of the US Armed Forces and every state offer reservists some form of government-funded tuition assistance. Every service and state has its own eligibility requirements, maximum allowances and other protocol. Find your branch of service below for the information that pertains directly to you.
Army Reserve (USAR)
The Army Reserve provides tuition assistance to fund the studies of soldiers pursuing their education on a voluntary basis – i.e. during personal time.
USAR Tuition Assistance can be used to cover up to 100% of tuition, depending on the cost of your college or university and your standing in the reserves.
For enlisted soldiers, USAR Tuition Assistance will pay up to $250 per semester hour, or $4,500 per year.
For officers, USAR TA will cover up to 75% of total tuition and fees for your bachelor’s degree. The total dollar figures are the same as for soldiers: $250 per semester-based credit hour or $4500 annually.
To be eligible, you must be seeking to earn a more advanced credential or degree than you currently have. For enlisted soldiers and warrant officers, you must have enough time left on your service to complete the planned course of study before separation. For commissioned offers, you must have at least four years of service remaining after you complete the degree for which you received assistance.
Air Force Reserve (USAFR)
The Air Force will provide for up to 100% of tuition and fees for reservists seeking to complete an undergraduate degree program. Benefits may not exceed $250 per semester hour or $4,500 annually.
For reservists pursing a Masters Degree, USAFR Tuition Assistance will cover up to 75% of tuition, not to exceed $187.50 per semester hour or $3,500 per year.
For information on eligibility and application rules, contact your education service officer.
Coast Guard Reserve (USCGR)
Since the Coast Guard Reserve units have been integrated into the active duty forces, the USCG has moved to give reservists full access to the same educational benefits available to active duty members.
Tuition Assistance for reservists in the USCG will cover up to 100% of the cost of tuition, not to exceed $250 per semester-based credit hour or $4,500 annually. For more information on eligibility and to apply, contact your education service officer.
Navy Reserve (USNR) & Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR)
The Navy and Marine Corps do not currently offer Tuition Assistance to their reservists. You may, however, be eligible to apply for active duty Tuition Assistance if you were activated under Title 10.
State Tuition Assistance
In addition to Federal Tuition Assistance, guardsmen and reservists may qualify for State Tuition Assistance. Each state sets its own guidelines for eligibility, payment and dispersal.
In Texas and New York, for example, reservists are entitled to the full cost of tuition when enrolled as part-time students pursuing an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees at an in-state public college or university.
Some states offer multiple programs with different assistance options. For example, Florida has two programs: the first, which covers all tuition and fees for in-state community colleges and universities and the second, which exempts reservists from half of tuition and fees at in-state public schools.
Most states stop providing tuition assistance after you have earned your BA, but some programs – like the tuition exemption one in Illinois – provide assistance for MA candidates and even those pursuing a doctorate degree.
For complete information about tuition assistance in your state, contact your education service officer.
Montgomery G.I. Bill
In addition to Federal and State Tuition Assistance, you may be eligible to receive education benefits through the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
If you have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve, then you are eligible for the MGIB SR, which provides up to $11,000 over thirty-six months to cover the cost of tuition, fees and expenses for college, technical or vocational courses, as well as job training and distance learning.
If you have been activated under Title 10, you may qualify for the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). REAP can cover up to $31,000 of education expenses. The total benefit – which is worth 40, 60 or 80% of the MGIB benefit for active duty members – is calculated according to the amount of time you were activated.