The U.S. Armed Forces offer several educational assistance programs in addition to the GI Bill and ROTC Scholarships. These include:
The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides up to 36 months of educational benefits to members of the Reserves and National Guard who were called to active duty by the President or Secretary of Defense during a war or national emergency declared by the President or Congress.
To be eligible, the student must have served on active duty for 90 or more consecutive days on or after September 11, 2001 or have been discharged due to a service-connected injury, illness or disease before reaching the 90th day of service.
The monthly benefit payment amount is based on a percentage of Montgomery GI Bill benefits. The percentage depends on the duration of service, with 90 days qualifying for 40%, one year qualifying for 60%, two continuous years qualifying for 80% and three cumulative years qualifying for 80%. Benefits may be further reduced for correspondence courses, flight training and apprenticeship training and to servicemembers who are using their benefits while still on active duty.
Buy-Up Program: In a buy-up program, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces has additional money deducted from his or her military pay in order to increase the amount of veteran’s education benefits.
Members of the Reserves and National Guard may participate in the $600 buy-up program, which will increase the amount of educational benefits by $150 a month.
Benefits must be used within 10 years of separation from active-duty service.
Coordination restrictions prevent veterans who qualify for both REAP and Montgomery GI Bill benefits from using benefits from both programs based on the same period of service. Likewise, students who receive ROTC Scholarships may not also receive REAP benefits. However, veterans may receive benefits from two or more programs based on different periods of service. Veterans may receive no more than 48 months of combined eligibility from two or more educational benefit programs.
Unused REAP benefits may be transferred to the servicemember’s spouse and/or children if the servicemember has served at least six years and agrees to serve for at least four more years.
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) provides up to 36 months of educational benefits to help veterans pay for college. The number of months of benefits is based on the number of monthly contributions made from the servicemember’s military pay before April 1, 1987. Contributions are capped at $2,700 (at most $100 per month) and matched on a 2-for-1 basis by the U.S. Department of Defense.
To be eligible, the veteran must have first started service between January 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985 and have been discharged from the veteran’s first period of service under conditions other than dishonorable. The required length of continuous active duty service is either 181 days or 24 months, depending on the date the servicemember entered active duty service. Active duty service does not include time served at a service academy or time spent on active duty for training purposes in the National Guard and Reserves. A shorter period of active duty service may be required for servicemembers who were discharged for early-out, hardship or a service-connected disability. In some cases, servicemembers who are still on active duty may be eligible for VEAP.
VEAP benefits must be used within 10 years of release from active-duty service. At the end of the 10-year period, any unused entitlement will be automatically refunded to the servicemember.
Coordination restrictions may preclude some veterans who were eligible for Vietnam Era GI Bill benefits from qualifying for VEAP. Servicemembers who elected Montgomery GI Bill benefits are not eligible for VEAP. Servicemembers cannot receive payments from more than one benefit at a time, but may receive up to 48 months of combined eligibility from two or more educational benefit programs.
The Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA) provides up to 45 months of educational benefits to dependents of veterans who were totally and permanently disabled or who died while on active duty or because of a service-related condition. Dependents are also eligible if the servicemember is missing in action (MIA), captured in the line of duty and being held by a hostile force or forcibly detained/interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power. Dependents may also be eligible if the servicemember is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected disability and is likely to be discharged because of this disability.
Dependents include the spouse and children of the servicemember, including stepchildren and adopted children. To be eligible, children must be between the ages of 18 to 26. If the child served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and was discharged for other than dishonorable conditions, the eligibility period may be extended by eight years from date of discharge through age 30, whichever comes first. If the child served on or after September 11, 2001, the eligibility period for DEA may be extended by the time spent on active duty service plus four months and may be extended beyond age 30. The marital status of a child does not affect eligibility for DEA benefits.
The veteran’s spouse must use DEA benefits within 10 years of the disability determination, the date the veteran died or the date the servicemember was listed as MIA or captive. In some cases, the DEA benefits are available for 20 years, if the spouse remains married to the disabled veteran or the veteran died on active duty. In some circumstances, remarriage before age 57 may end DEA benefits.
The amount of benefits depends on enrollment status, but is generally about 60 percent of Montgomery GI Bill benefits for full-time training.
Coordination restrictions may preclude dependents from receiving more than one educational benefit at a time. In some cases, children of deceased veterans may wish to defer receiving DEA benefits in order to use other death benefits. Starting October 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be able to receive up to 81 months of combined eligibility from the DEA and GI Bill educational benefit programs.
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