It is no secret that using Tuition Assistance (TA) while serving in the military is a great way to conserve GI Bill benefits. But currently only about 20% of servicemembers use TA.

Under the current policy, an enlisted service member must serve for one year after completing their Individual Training requirement before becoming eligible to use TA for a bachelor’s degree, providing they don’t have any of the other red flags that could jeopardize their eligibility.

For commissioned and warrant officers, they must have also completed the Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC) and Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC), respectively. For either enlisted or officers to work on getting a master’s degree, they must have served for at least 10 years.

But those requirements are about to change in an effort to increase the number of servicemembers using TA.

How Tuition Assistance for Service Members is Changing?

As of August 5, 2018, enlisted soldiers must have completed the Advanced Leader Course (ALC), warrant officers their Warrant Officer Advanced Course, and officers graduated from the Captain’s Career Course, or the equivalent course of each according to branch, to qualify for TA. Gone will be the one year and 10-year requirements to use TA.

What did not change is the basic premise of TA. Under the current Department of Defense TA policy, service members can take college courses up to a per-credit amount until they reach their yearly cap without it having any effect on their GI Bill benefits. However, the policy does differ slightly depending on the military branch:


  • Up to $250 per credit
  • $4,000 maximum per fiscal year
  • 130 undergraduate credits lifetime total
  • 39 graduate credits lifetime total


  • Up to $250 per credit
  • $4,500 maximum per fiscal year

Air Force

  • Up to $250 per credit
  • $4,000 maximum per fiscal year

Coast Guard

  • Up to $250 per credit
  • Must get a grade of C or better for undergraduate or a B or better for graduate courses to avoid paying back TA money

By being authorized to use TA early instead of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which can be used after 90 days of eligible service, benefits could instead be transferred to an eligible family member while still serving or used by the veteran for an advanced degree after getting out. And the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays more if used after getting out because the monthly housing allowance is not authorized while serving. On average, that alone pays $1,300 per month! Do the math: for 36 months of benefits and that amounts to a chunk of change.

If you are not currently using TA, or are not yet eligible to use it, this could be the catalyst you’ve been waiting for to spur you into action.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.