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Tuition Top-Up Program FAQ


Q: Is this a good deal?

A: The short answer is: It depends. Before you apply for Top-Up, check with your education officer or counselor to review both your current situation and your long-term goals. Does your long-term goal requires some expensive coursework in the immediate future and some additional training after you leave the military? Or are you three classes away from your bachelor’s degree? Remember that using Top-Up affects your MGIB benefits, so you may be better off not using it if you plan to continue your education after you leave the service.

Top-Up is a good deal if you plan to take courses while you’re on active duty. If you plan to continue your education after service, you’ll want to save most of your MGIB to use after you are discharged.


Q: Can I apply the Top-up to training I’ve already received?

A: If you are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill, the Top-Up can be applied retroactively. Two conditions apply: The training to be covered must have started on or after October 30, 2000 (the effective date of the law).  The request must be made within one year from 
the date your claim was/is received in VA.


Q: Is there a limit to the amount of Top-up I can use?

A: Yes. Top-Up is limited to 36 months of payments.  For example, if you are paid Top-Up for a 4-month course, you use 4 of the 36 months of Top-Up.


Q: Does this mean if I use 36 months of Top-Up, I've used up all my MGIB benefits?

A: That will depend on your monthly rates for both benefits. Your MGIB entitlement is based on your full-time monthly rate.  Your Top-Up limit is based on a 1:1 ratio, no matter how much Top-Up is used (1 month used for each month of Top-Up). So if your MGIB benefit is $100 and you have been paid $50 in Top-Up, you’ve only used half of your MGIB for 36 months.  


Q: Will DOD pay 100% tuition assistance?

A: It varies by service branch, but the DoD encourages services to pay 100% if their budgets allow.  


Q: How do I apply for Top-Up?

A: If you want to use Top-up for courses taken in the winter 2001 or later file the claim using the following instructions: 

If you’ve never filed a claim for MGIB, follow these steps:
  • Contact your education services officer or education counselor and request Tuition Assistance from your service branch. 
  • Complete VA Form 22-1990, application for VA education benefits
  • Under MGIB-Active Duty block, in Item 1A, check “Top-Up” 
  • Send your TA approval form and the application for VA education benefits to your VA Regional Processing Office. The address is on the form. 
If you've previously filed a claim for MGIB and weren't denied benefits:
  • Submit your signed TA approval form to the VA Regional Processing Office that handles your claim. 
Note: Top-Up is payable for any course that TA is payable. Because of this, for Top-Up claims, you DO NOT need an enrollment certification on VA Form 22-1999.  


Q: What about the signatures on the TA approval form?

A: The TA approval form must be signed by the approving DOD officials. Check with your education service officer for your specific service branch requirements.  Some branches of service require the commanding officer's signature; some require the education service officer's signature. 

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