Federal legislation allows the services to pay up to 100 percent of education costs for service members. The Department of Defense has mandated a uniform tuition assistance fiscal policy across the services. The per semester hour cap is $250 and the fiscal year ceiling is $4,500.
Qualifying courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be from two- or four-year institutions on an installation, in the civilian community or by correspondence. In addition to degree programs, TA is available to assist service members in completing a high school diploma or certificate programs. However, TA is not authorized for courses leading to a lateral or lower level degree than the applicant already possesses. In addition, TA is not authorized for books and is not authorized for programs beyond a master's degree.
Authorized fees covered by TA are mandatory fees associated with an individual course enrollment. Non-refundable fees and fees that are not linked to individual course enrollments, for example, application fees, graduation fees, are not covered by TA.
Service members must obtain TA through their branch of Service.
Service tuition assistance programs
- Army. Courses must be offered by colleges registered in GoArmyEd and accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. All regular active-duty and Reserve Component soldiers, members of the Active Guard Reserve, and Reserve Component soldiers activated under United States Code Title 10 or Title 32 may request TA through GoArmyEd, subject to qualifying criteria. Additional details on the provisions of TA can be found in Army Regulation 621-5.
- Air Force. Students must meet the eligibility criteria before TA reimbursement can be made, including the following:
- Enlisted students' time in service y must extend beyond the course end date of the last course approved for TA or the individual must extend or re-enlist.
- Commissioned officers must have a mandatory separation date of not less than 24 months of service commitment starting at the end of the last course completed. In addition, officers incur a four-year reserve service commitment (see Air Force Reserve Command Instruction 36-2102). Each time an officer applies for TA, he or she must sign a contract for Air Force selected reserve service commitment.
- Students must provide a degree plan to the Air Reserve personnel center prior to the completion of nine semester hours. Note: All courses submitted for TA approval must be on the degree plan.
Tuition assistance shall only be provided for courses offered by postsecondary institutions accredited by a national or regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Air Force transition assistance resources
- Navy. Navy TA pays up-front for the tuition and fees charged by education institutions for course enrollments. Navy TA pays 100 percent of tuition costs for courses applicable to the completion of a high school diploma or equivalency certificate. For other education levels, there is a fiscal year credit limit of 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours per individual. Waiver requests cannot exceed the $4,500 per fiscal year limit.
Additional Navy TA Resource
- Marine Corps. All Marines must apply for and receive written authorization for TA prior to enrollment through the appropriate education office. First-time students must complete a TA orientation class prior to using TA. Courses are available on the installation through the lifelong learning or education office. Marines at remote sites (non-Marine Corps installations) may access the course online.
Service education programs
National Guard and Reserve Components
Publications and resources