On October 30, 2000, the President signed into law an amendment to the GI Bill® that permits VA to pay a Tuition Assistance Top-Up benefit. The amount of the benefit can be equal to the difference between the total cost of a college course and the amount of Tuition Assistance that is paid by the military for the course. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tuition Assistance Top-Up page.
To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, you must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty or Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits. Top-up is limited to 36 months of payments. For example, if you are paid Top-up for a three-month course, you use three of the 36 months.
The amount of the benefit is limited to the amount that the person would receive for the same course if regular GI Bill® benefits were being paid. In no case can the amount paid by the military combined with the amount paid by VA be more than the total cost of the course.
Frequently Asked Top-Up Questions
Q: WHAT DOES THIS PROVISION MEAN TO ME?
A: If you’re eligible for MGIB Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, and plan to use Tuition Assistance (TA), and your service will not pay 100% of tuition and fees, you can use your GI Bill® Top-Up to pay the balance.
Q: HOW ARE MY GI BILL BENEFITS CHARGED IF I USE THEM FOR TOP-UP?
A: Your GI Bill® entitlement is charged differently depending on which GI Bill® program you are using:
- If you are utilizing the Montgomery GI Bill® your entitlement is charged based on the dollar amount of benefits VA pays you. You will be charged one month of entitlement for each payment you receive that is equal to the full time monthly rate for the GI Bill®. View the current payment rates.
- If you are utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill® your entitlement is charged based on the training time you are enrolled in. If you are going to classes at the half-time training level you will be charged for a half month of Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits for each month you are enrolled and receiving GI Bill® benefits no matter how much money you are reimbursed.
Q: CAN THE TOP-UP APPLY RETROACTIVELY, TO TRAINING ALREADY RECEIVED?”
A: Yes, the Top-Up can apply retroactively, but you must be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill®, and we can only go back one year from the date your claim was/is received by the VA.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO TO APPLY FOR TOP-UP?
- Request TA from your branch of service. Refer to the Federal Tuition Assistance (TA) page.
- If you haven’t filed, then complete the online application for VA education benefits: VA|Vets.gov
- Submit your Concise Student Schedule, indicate course, and your request for “Tuition Assistance Top-Up”:
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By fax: (575) 646-1113