United States Navy Education Benefits
United States Navy Education Benefits are one of the most important benefits to active duty service members, Veterans, and their families. Education benefits started for Veterans after World War II with the G.I. Bill of Rights and continues 75 years later with the Forever G.I. Bill. Today education benefits are available to service members to obtain their education while on active duty, dependents can obtain their education for free, and Veterans can continue their education once separated or retired. Education benefits include the Seaman to Admiral Program, Tuition Assistance, and NCPACE for service member on active duty. Veterans and dependents can use programs like the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and state education programs to continue their education. Education is an important benefit of being a member of the United States Navy and an entire family can receive a higher education just from one member.
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People join the United States Military for numerous reasons; to serve their country, see the world, experience, steady job, but one of the most valuable benefits they can use while they are in and when they get out of the military is the educational benefits. Education benefits were not available to military service members until after World War II. Education benefits are now available to active duty service members, reservists, national guard, veterans, spouses, dependents, and survivors. This paper will discuss military education benefits such as officer programs, tuition assistance, the G.I. Bill, and numerous other education opportunities available for service members and their families.
For the first 168 years of existence the United States Armed Forces had no education benefits. In January,1944, Harry W. Colmery, a prior national commander of the American Legion and Republican National Chairman, is credited with drafting and introducing in to legislation the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, or G.I. Bill of Bill of Rights. The bill provided education benefits for veterans and was signed into law on June 22, 1944, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since then the education benefits and programs for veterans as well as active duty service members, national guard, reserves, and their families have improved over time. (“History and Timeline,” 2013)
G.I. Bill of Rights
The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, referred to as the G.I. Bill of Rights, was signed by President Roosevelt in 1944. The bill provided veteran’s, after discharge, up to 48 months of benefits, including $500 tuition per school year paid directly to any accredited institution to continue their education, technical training, refresher or retraining courses. It also provided a cost of living stipend in the amount of $50 for no dependents or $75 for one or more dependents (“75 Years,” 2019). Within the first seven years more than 8 million veterans took advantage and by 1950 the number of degree holders doubled. By 1956 when this version of the G.I. Bill initially expired almost half of the 16 million World War II veterans had taken advantage of the education and training benefits provided by the G.I. Bill (“75 Years,” 2019).
Korean G.I. Bill
The Veteran’s Readjustment Act of 1952, referred to as the Korean G.I. Bill, enabled Korean War Veteran’s to take advantage of education benefits given to World War II Veterans. The Korean G.I. Bill made several changes to the original G.I. Bill. The Korean G.I. Bill adjusted the maximum amount of time veterans could use the education benefits lowering it from 48 months to 36 months, tuition was not paid directly to a school instead veterans were paid subsistence checks that were meant to cover tuition as well as other college expenses. (“VA History in Brief,” n.d.). The change from the original G.I. Bill enacted in 1944 to the Korean G.I. Bill of 1952 negatively impacted veteran’s education benefits because it no longer covered all the costs of veterans’ education.
Vietnam G.I. Bill
In 1966, Congress passed the Veterans’ Readjustment Benefit Act, also known as the Vietnam G.I. Bill (“VA History in Brief,” n.d.). Under this G.I. Bill veterans, after 180 days of consecutive service, were eligible for one month of education benefits for every month served. This benefit was later increased to one and one-half months of education benefits for every month served. The Vietnam G.I. Bill was so successful that by 1980 approximately 5.5 million veterans had used the education benefits (“VA History in Brief,” n.d.).
As the Vietnam War ended and the use of a draft to enlist service members came to a halt so did the emphasis on free education for veterans. The Post Vietnam-Era Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 1977, also known as VEAP, was enacted for veterans entering service after December 31, 1976. Under VEAP servicemember could contribute up to $2,700 to their educational fund and the government would match their contribution with two dollars for each one dollar contributed. If a servicemember contributed the maximum amount of $2,700 they would ultimately receive $8,100 for their education (“VA History in Brief,” n.d.).
Montgomery G.I. Bill
The Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 1984, also known as the Montgomery G.I. Bill, was enacted to counteract recruiting shortfalls. The Montgomery G.I. Bill provided education benefits in the amount of $300 for 36 months. To be eligible for the Montgomery G.I. Bill servicemembers had to compete three years on active duty and agree to have their pay reduced by $100 for the first 12 months of their enlistment. The G.I. Bill Buy-Up program also allows servicemember to contribute an extra $600 to receive an additional $5,400 of education benefits (“VA Education and Training Benefits,” 2019).
Post-9/11 G.I. Bill
The Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, was enacted for Veterans who served after September 11, 2001. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides up to 36 months of educational benefits. The tuition is paid directly to a college or university based on the amount of credits enrolled in with a maximum of twelve. The benefits also include up to $1,000 per school year for books and supplies and a monthly housing allowance equal to an enlisted E-5 with dependents and where the school is located. This benefit will expire after 15 years if your separation date was before January 1, 2013 (“VA Education and Training Benefits,” 2019).
Forever G.I. Bill
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also knows as the Forever G.I. Bill, was enacted in 2017. The Forever G.I. Bill made changes and expanded benefits introduced in the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The new provisions in the Forever G.I. Bill eliminate the 15-year limit of use by veterans and their dependents as well as changing the rules of the monthly housing allowance to reflect where the classes are taken vice where the school is located (“Education and Training,” 2019).
National Call to Service Program
The National Call to Service Program was available to those members who served on active duty for 15 months followed by 24 months in the Selected Reserve then finishing their obligates service on active duty, Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, or Americorps. This program provides participants the choice of five incentives: a cash bonus of $5,000, repayment of a qualifying student loan up to $18,000, an allowance equal to the three-year monthly Montgomery G.I. Bill Active-Duty rate for 12 months, an allowance equal to 50 percent of the less than three-year monthly Montgomery G.I. Bill Active-Duty rate for 36 months, or coordination with Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits (“Education and Training,” 2019).
Navy College Fund
Then Navy College Fund is an increase to the G.I. Bill offered at the time of initial entry in to service by individuals that have a special skill and are offered a job or rating in the military for which there is a shortage. The amount, known as the G.I. Bill “kicker”, is written into the service members contract upon entry into active duty and is paid out monthly along with the G.I. Bill payments. The Navy College Fund can be used along with the Montgomery G.I. Bill or the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill (“Education and Training,” 2019).
Tuition Assistance (TA) is the primary education program offered to active duty Navy and Naval Reservists in an active duty status. To qualify Sailors must be at their first duty station for one year, be on active duty for the duration of the course they are taking, attend an accredited institution, complete an education plan, submit a request for Tuition Assistance, and as of October 1, 2019, have a minimum of two years of military service. As of October 1, 2019, Tuition Assistance has a fiscal year cap of 12 semester hours, 18 quarter hours, 180 clock hours, or any combination of the three. Tuition Assistance caps the amounts paid out at $250 per semester hour, $166.67 per quarter hour, and $16.67 per clock hour. There is also a lifetime cap Tuition Assistance at 120 semester hour, 180 quarter hours, 1800 clock hours, or a combination of the three (Navy College Program, 2019). Tuition Assistance can be used to obtain a High School Diploma or equivalency certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and approved certificate programs. Tuition Assistance only covers tuition up to the allowed cap per fiscal year and does not cover books, materials, or other institution fees. Tuition Assistance will not pay for courses: if the member leaves service before the course ends, a course is retaken, if the member withdraws from the course for reasons except personal illness, military transfer, mission requirements, or if the course is failed. In addition, if any of these situations occur the service member must provide reimbursement for and funds already paid (Navy College Program, 2019).
Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is a component of the Defense Human Resource Activity (DHRA). DANTES is responsible for managing education programs, providing no-cost education, and providing career-planning programs to help military members achieve their education and career goals. Education programs included under DANTES are the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), college entrance exams including the ACT, SAT, GRE, and GMAT, college credit through military experience which the American Council on Education (ACE) can evaluate and document on the Joint Services Transcript (JST), and Troops to Teachers (TTT) which helps former service members transition to second careers as K-12 teachers (“DANTES,” (2019).
College Level Examination Program
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a series of 34 standardized tests that can be taken to earn college credit. Active duty service members can have the $89 examination fee waived for the first attempt, however if a retest is needed the military member will be required to wait three months and pay the $89 examination fee. Under the “Forever G.I. Bill” veterans who take a CLEP exam will be charge one month of G.I. Bill benefits (“Make the Most of Your Education Benefits,” (2019).
Troops to Teachers
Troop to Teachers is a program, under DANTES, that assists helps military service members start a new career as K-12 teachers upon separation from active duty. The Troops to Teacher provides counseling services, employment assistance, and financial assistance to former service members. The benefits include one-on-one counseling, transition planning, assistance in navigating state teacher certification and licensing requirements, support and mentorship, and up to a $5,000 stipend or a $10,000 bonus. There is no cost to participate in the program, however participating service members must agree to teach for three years at a qualifying elementary or secondary school (“DANTES,” (2019).
The Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) is a program available to active duty IAs/GSAs/OSAs serving OCONUS, enlisted Naval Reservists ordered to active duty for 120 days or more, Naval Reserve Officers ordered to active duty for two years beyond the course term end date (Navy College Program, 2019). To qualify Sailors must be assigned to a command with a type 2 or 4 Unit Identification Code (UIC) or be on active duty IA/OSA/GSA serving OCONUS for the duration of the course term, be on active duty for the duration of the course, receive counseling from a Navy College Education Counselor, and provide all grades to the Navy College Office. (Navy College Program, 2019). NCPACE pays up to 100% of the tuition charged by education institutions with fiscal year caps at $4500. The fiscal year cap applies to Tuition Assistance (TA) and NCPACE combined. The payment for tuition is set at $250 per semester hour, $166.67 per quarter hour, and $16.67 per clock hour (Navy College Program, 2019).
Seaman to Admiral-21 Program
The Seaman to Admiral-21 Program (STA-21) is a commissioning program that was reestablished by Admiral Mike Boorda and was created by combining the following commissioning programs: Seaman to Admiral, Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP), Aviation Enlisted Commissioning Program (AECP), Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program (NECP), Civil Engineer Corps Enlisted Commissioning Program (CECECP), and the Fleet Accession to Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) (“Seaman to Admiral-21 Program,” (2019). STA-21 allows active duty enlisted service members to obtain an officer commission in the United States Navy.
To be eligible for STA-21 a Sailor must be on active duty, be a U.S. Citizen, have their Commanding Officer’s recommendation, be of good moral character, have a high school diploma or GED, be able to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in 36 months, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or better, meet physical condition requirements, have no record of court martials or civilian felonies, no record of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence within three years, no substantiated alcohol or drug related incidents while in an enlisted status, no record of disciplinary action under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or conviction of misdemeanor by civilian court, and Sailors must submit scores for the previous 3 Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) with the last 2 PFA’s scores being “GOOD” or better (“Seaman to Admiral-21 Program,” (2019).
STA-21 Pay and Benefits
While attending school STA-21 participants will receive full military pay, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) for their enlisted paygrade, and eligibility for advancement to the next paygrade. Time spent in school will not count toward retirement but will count toward time in paygrade for pay purposes. Sailors are eligible for base housing, if available in the area, and will receive full military medical care and commissary privileges. Participants will receive up to $10,000 per year to pay for tuition, fees, and books (“Seaman to Admiral-21 Program,” (2019).
They also are entitled to the use of the Montgomery G.I. Bill to pay for courses if STA-21 funds are exhausted if it is used to pay for a new course and not combined to pay for the same course (“Seaman to Admiral-21 Program,” (2019).
Dependent and Survivor Education Benefits
The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is transferrable to the member’s spouse and children or any combination of the two. The spouse may use the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits immediately upon transfer and while the member is on active duty or after separation. Spouses are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance while the member is still on active duty. Spouses will have 15 years or more to use the benefit depending on the service members release date from active duty. Children may use the benefit only after the member has completed at least 10 years on active duty. They are allowed to use the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill while the member is on active duty or after separation but may not use it until they have received a high school diploma, GED, or reached the age of 18. Children are only eligible to receive benefits until their 26th birthday and they are eligible for the monthly housing stipend even if the member is still on active duty (“Make the Most of Your Education Benefits,” (2019). The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society also offers and education assistance program with interest free loans and grants from $500 to $3,000 each academic year to the spouses of active-duty and retired service members for undergraduate education programs at accredited two and four year institutions (“For Spouses - Benefits,” (2019).
Under the Veterans Administration (VA) the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education benefits to eligible dependents. To qualify you must be a child or spouse of a veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, a service member missing in action, captured in the line of duty, or was forcibly detained. Survivors may use education benefits for up to 36 months. Spouses may use benefits for 10 years after eligibility is determined or the death of the service member. Children may use benefits from age 18 to 26 (“VA Education and Training Benefits,” 2019).
Additional Education Benefits
In addition to the Federal benefits offered to active duty service member, veterans, spouses, and children many states offer free education. In California, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CALVET) offers free tuition to University of California or California State University for the spouse of children of military veterans. (“College Fee Waiver,” (2019). In Texas, the Hazelwood Act allows Veterans, spouses, and dependent children up to 150 hours of tuition exemption (“Hazelwood Act,” (2019).
In the 75 years since the G.I. Bill of Rights was enacted military education benefits have increased substantially. Service members have the opportunity to obtain higher education with programs like Tuition Assistance, CLEP, and NCPACE while on active duty. Veterans have programs such as the G.I. Bill, Navy College Fund, and other state education programs to help them obtain their education goals. Spouses and dependents have many choices to obtain their education through programs like the G.I. Bill, Dependents Educational Assistance programs, and state programs. Education benefits are one of the most important benefits obtained by joining the military. This benefit can easily help educate an entire family and relieve the burden of financial hardship brought on by higher education.
- College Fee Waiver. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.calvet.ca.gov/VetServices/Pages/College-Fee-Waiver.aspx.
- DANTES. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.dantes.doded.mil/.
- Education and Training. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/index.asp.
- For Spouses – Benefits. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.militaryonesource.mil/education-employment/for-spouses/for-spouses-benefits.
- Hazelwood Act. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.tvc.texas.gov/education/hazlewood-act/.
- History and Timeline. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/history.asp.
- Make the Most of Your Education Benefits. (2019). Retrieved from https://clep.collegeboard.org/earn-college-credit/military-benefits.
- Navy College Program. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/information-for-sailors/paying-for-school/index.htm.
- Seaman to Admiral-21 Program. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.public.navy.mil/netc/nstc/sta-21/index.aspx.
- 75 Years of the GI Bill: How Transformative It’s Been. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.defense.gov/explore/story/Article/1727086/75-years-of-the-gi-bill-how-transformative-its-been/.
- VA Education and Training Benefits. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/education/.
- VA History in Brief. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/archives/docs/history_in_brief.pdf.
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