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We’ve got great news!

The Military Tuition Assistance Programs are back for 2016, and some of them are better than ever before.

Military TA is offered by each branch of the US Armed Forces, and helps soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines earn their college degrees with little to no out of pocket costs.

The best thing about Military TA is that, unlike many of the other benefit programs, it’s available to virtually all enlistees regardless of service branch, job or duty station.

And the second best thing about Military TA is that it’s extremely valuable, offering up to $4,500 per year in financial assistance for educational expenses.

What Is Military TA?

The United States Congress created the Military Tuition Assistance Program to authorize the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard to pay up to 100% of school tuition and fees for eligible military personnel.

In a nutshell, this benefits package is so powerful that it’s possible to get your college degree or other higher education credential entirely for free, as long as you aren’t planning on attending an extremely expensive school.

How Do I Qualify for TA Benefits?

It depends. Each service branch has its own eligibility criteria, including the amount of time you have to serve, the actual application process you have to go through and the restrictions that are placed upon your benefits.

To get the details on qualifying for TA beneifts, be sure to check out our pages on tuition assistance for each of the specific service branches:

How Much TA Can I Get in 2016?

Technically speaking, you won’t ‘get’ any money as part of the TA program, because the benefit is paid directly to the educational institution that you’re attending, but…

While you won’t get any cash directed deposited into your bank account, the program could save you tens of thousands of dollars in educational expenses, depending on how long you use it.

If you qualify for 100% coverage, then you’ll be eligible to receive up to the following amounts of TA:

  • $250 per Credit Hour (for Semesters)
  • $166 per Credit Hour (for Quarters)
  • $4,500 per Fiscal Year

Once you apply the maximum number of hours to the costs per credit hour, you’ll find that TA benefits offer up to $4,500 per fiscal year, which is some serious coin.

And for your reference, you’ll need to plan your classes accordingly, because the fiscal year runs from October 1st through September 30th, rather than January 1st through December 31st.

As an example, the 2016 fiscal year occurs between October 1st, 2014, and September 30th, 2016.

2016 TA Rates By Service Branch

Variable Rate Loans
Term (Years)APR Range
51.94% - 4.76%
103.16% - 4.79%
153.41% - 4.79%
203.74% - 4.81%

What Fees Are Covered?

Tuition isn’t the only thing covered by the Tuition Assistance program, which is why we say that it will pay for “tuition and fees”.

In addition to your tuition expenses, this benefit also provides money for any costs that are published, mandatory and associated with an individual course enrollment.

That means you’ll have coverage for costs like lab fees, enrollment fees for a particular course, etc., but you won’t be able to use TA funding to pay for things like library fees, graduation fees, transportation costs, etc.

What If It’s Not Enough?

If you end up with left-over education costs because your tuition and fees are higher than the maximum coverage provided by standard Tuition Assistance benefits, then we’ve got good news.

Through the Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” program, you can acquire additional financial aid to help cover those out-of-pocket costs.

As long as you’re approved for federal Tuition Assistance by your service branch and you’re eligible for either the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty benefits program or the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, then you can take advantage of this special benefit.

Find out how to use the Top-Up program here:

TA Suspended (Then Restored)

In March 2013, the military Tuition Assistance program was suspended by all service branches except the Navy as a result of the Sequestration Budget Cuts.

Fortunately, as of the time of this writing, all branches have restored Tuition Assistance programs for their service personnel, so at least for now, TA is fully-funded and available to you.

The bad news is that TA funding has been cut for virtually every service branch, and since it’s not a guaranteed benefit (TA is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, then cut once funds run out), many service members will have trouble getting their TA requests approved in 2016.

To maximize the chances that your TA request gets approved, you’ll want to submit your application as early as possible each semester, or quarter, so that yours is at the top of the pile.

For Additional Details

For other questions about Military Tuition Assistance, ask away in the comments section below and we’ll get you a response in 24 hours.

And to find out how you can save tens of thousands of dollars in other educational expenses, be sure to check out our Guide to Military Education Benefits.

In it, we’ll teach you to maximize the value from your benefits packages like the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program and the Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program.


Tim's experience battling crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on dealing with excessive student loans and advocates a cautious approach to funding education costs via borrowed money.