A vital part of a soldier's career is the continued opportunity for growth and development. Outside of what you might learn in your service, the Army provides a few avenues for funding supplemental education and continued growth.
Today we’ll explore the four most common education funding options and hopefully help you choose the one that’s right for you.
Active duty Army, Army Reserve or National Guard enlisted soldiers, warrant officers, and officers are all eligible for $4000 annually to use towards voluntary, off-duty education that supports their career and self-development goals. These funds can be combined or used individually toward Tuition Assistance (TA) and, as of 2019, Credentialing Assistance (CA) and replenish every fiscal year. Below we break down the difference between these two options.
The Tuition Assistance program can pay up to 100% of tuition and associated fees for 2-4 year undergraduate and graduate degree programs — including Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degrees — that are higher than any certifications or degrees the soldier has already been awarded. TA also applies to soldiers who are working on their high school diploma or equivalent certifications. TA does not apply to PhD programs or equivalents.
These courses may be in-person or online, but they must be offered by schools that are accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, registered in GoArmyEd, and are signatories of the Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding (DoD MOU).
The Army Credentialing Assistance Program offers training in over 1,600 specialties to help soldiers further develop their military careers or prepare for future civilian careers through credentials.
Credentials are a great option for soldiers since they provide short-term (often online) education and proof of knowledge with a certificate that can help enhance military training or show civilian employers that their Army skills are transferable.
Army CA pays for courses, exams, and certain credentialing processes. This program is available to soldiers who are off-duty and have met the required Professional Military Education standards.
A great place to start when considering what credential options are available to you is the Army COOL website. Launched alongside CA, Army COOL, or Credentialing Opportunities Online, connects soldiers with essential information about certifications and licenses related to their career.
Soldiers can use this resource to search for credentials, approved schools/vendors and better understand the process of applying for credentialing assistance.
Pell Grants are a part of federal student financial aid and can be combined with other non-federal or federal funding. Pell Grants are different from Credentialing Assistance and Tuition Assistance in that they are typically limited to undergraduate students unless the student is enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program.
Pell Grants are awarded based on need. They are not loans and do not need to be repaid unless the student withdraws from the program.
GI Bill benefits provide funding for institutes of higher learning, including four-year universities, community or junior colleges, and programs that offer advanced degrees. The GI Bill is unique in that recipients may attend multiple colleges simultaneously depending on the requirements of the programs and earn more than one degree.
The GI Bill covers tuition paid directly to the school as well as both a book and housing stipend to the student.
Things to Remember
With such a diversity of funding options, it’s important to choose the funding that’s best for your career future and provides the flexibility to support an Army lifestyle.
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