What is the Top-Up Program?
The GI Bill Top-Up Program allows existing GIs currently serving in active duty to obtain additional financial assistance for books, fees, and other educational applications, in cases where their GI Bill is unable to cover anything more than tuition costs. Although the amount of financial assistance will vary by person, most enlistees can expect to receive the difference between the total cost of a college class (including books and fees), and the total amount awarded from the VA educational benefits program. It is important to know, however; that if you choose to receive benefits from the Top-Up program, your MGIB-AD benefits will be subsequently reduced. Unfortunately, the Top-Up program is unavailable to MGIB-SR and REAP branches of the GI Bill program.
Am I Eligible?
Only active duty service members in the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy are able to apply for the GI Bill Top-Up program. Furthermore, the eligibility requirements for the Top-Up program require that you are first eligible for MGIB-AD benefits, as well as approved for tuition assistance through a military branch. The required service duration for the GI Bill program is set at 2 years of active duty service, which is also true for this feature as well.
How are the Benefits Awarded?
The amount of your benefits entitlement is based on the amount you receive from the Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty Service members (MGIB-AD). Each month of entitlement you receive from the Top-Up program that equals one month of benefits from your MGIB-AD bill, will be subsequently charged to your MGIB-AD entitlement. If you are using your Post 9/11 GI Bill to complement your GI Bill Top-Up, understand that the amount of your entitlement will be charged according to the duration of your training. For example, GIs that are taking classes only half-time will be charged the half-time rate.
What else Should I Know?
Courses that begin after October 30th, 2000 are eligible for financial assistance through the GI Top-Up Program. The program is limited to thirty-six months of VA educational benefits, which do not have to be used consecutively. Any training or educational assistance that has already been completed and paid for has the potential to be retroactively covered by the Top-Up program, as long as the program was completed within a year of applying for this GI Bill feature.
How Do I Apply for the Top-Up Program?
GIs interested in applying for educational benefits through the GI Bill Top-Up Program should first request TA (tuition assistance) from their services officer. Complete and submit your VA education benefits application through the VA’s E-benefit site.