For those who meet the eligibility criteria, the Coast Guard currently pays tuition costs for academic courses as follows:
up to $250 per semester hour or
up to $166.67 per quarter hour and
up to a maximum of $4,500 per fiscal year.
(Currently, the Coast Guard does not authorize TA for vocational or clock-hour courses.)
All courses for which you want to use TA must be taken from nationally or regionally accredited institutions. Also, to qualify for TA, the credit you earn for a course must be required for your degree program.
Currently, TA is not authorized for courses for which you Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Professional Development Units (PDUs), non-accredited clock hours, or non-accredited contact hours.
Tuition assistance differs in a number of ways from education funding through the GI Bill.
TA money goes directly to the institution you're taking courses from, not to you.
TA can only be used for tuition and tuition-related costs.
TA must be requested before you pay for a course; you will not be reimbursed by the Coast Guard for courses already taken.
For a more detailed comparison of TA and GI Bill education benefits, click here.
In most case you may not use TA and any other federal education aid (including the GI Bill) for the same course. However, you may apply for TA if you're receiving funds from a Pell Grant.
The following conditions are now in effect, on top of those which previously existed (under the horizontal line below).
Only uniformed personnel who are on active duty (including Reservists on ADOS or EAD contracts) are eligible.
Only uniformed personnel in pay grades E-6 and below (as of the first day of the course) are eligible.
TA may only be used to pay for undergraduate courses.
TA may only be used to pay for up to 6 semester credits (or up to 9 quarter credits) per fiscal quarter.
In addition, applicants must
be making satisfactory progress toward completion of qualifications for their billets,
be making satisfactory progress toward watch-standing qualifications,
demonstrate satisfactory proficiency in their craft, and
have demonstrated satisfactory conduct during the last six months.
Before commands can approve a TA application, "COs, OICs, or the first O-6/GS-15 in the chain-of-command" must ensure that applicants meet the above eligibility criteria (see ALCOAST 175/13, paragraph 4). Commands are free to use any means they want to record the fact that they've verified that the above criteria were met.
If you're applying for TA to work toward an undergraduate degree (associate's or bachelor's level) and you're using TA for the first time, you must have requested an education assessment and received a transcript from the Coast Guard Institute within the previous four years.
With one exception, TA may only be used for courses that are part of a degree program at a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution of higher learning.
The exception to the rule above is that TA may be used for foreign language courses which support the Coast Guard's foreign language program. These are courses which help you acquire the ability to speak and write in a "strategic language" as identified by the foreign language program. Such courses must be offered by regionally- or nationally-accredited institutions of higher learning. Non-academic language programs are not funded with TA.
TA may only be used for courses you receive transferable college credit for. This means you can't use TA if you receive CEUs (continuing education units), PDUs (professional development units), clock hours, or the like.
TA use may be limited or denied by individual commands based on factors such as your primary duties, staffing levels, etc.
If you're taking courses from a SOC (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges) institution, you must obtain a SOC Student Agreement after you complete 12 credits.
A passing grade for an undergraduate course is a "D"; for graduate courses, it's a "C".
Coast Guard personnel (military or civilian) may not use TA and receive any GI Bill benefit for the same course(s).
In addition to the rules above, TA is not authorized for any of the following:
courses you audit (i.e., don't get a grade for);
courses you previously took using TA funds;
physical education or recreation courses not required by your college/university to complete your degree;
courses being paid for by the Coast Guard as part of a higher education program (e.g., ACET, graduate school, etc.);
undergraduate students whose GPA is less than 2.0 for the previous 12 credits paid for with TA;
graduate students whose GPA is less than 3.0 for the previous 12 credits paid for with TA;
a second degree at the same or lower educational level (if the first degree was paid for with TA);
contract or Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF) employees;
personnel awaiting a punitive discharge, in confinement, on appellate leave, or awaiting an administrative separation with an other-than-honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharge;
personnel convicted by civil courts in the United States or abroad, serving sentences in civilian prisons in the United States or abroad, or both.
Many people are confused about the policy on using GI Bill benefits and tuition assistance together. They often call the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) to ask if it's OK to do so. Invariably, the response from the DVA is “Yes”. But when they try to use both at the same time for the same courses, the Coast Guard says that's not allowed. Here's why.
The DVA is responsible for administering GI Bill education benefits and there’s nothing in the GI Bill statutes which prohibits GI Bill benefits from being used with tuition assistance (TA) at the same time, even for the same courses. But the DVA has absolutely no authority over the Coast Guard's TA program, policies, or procedures.
Each of the armed forces has its own version of TA which each controls absolutely. This means each can set its own rules on when and under what conditions TA can be used. That’s why the five services each have slightly different TA rules. For example,
Navy personnel can only use TA for 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits per year. There are no such limits for Coast Guard personnel.
Coast Guard civilians are authorized to use TA, while civilian employees of the DoD services are not.
The DVA can say whatever it wants about using TA and GI Bill benefits at the same time and for the same courses, but the Coast Guard and other services have the final word on when, how, and for what TA can be used. This being the case, the Coast Guard has decided that its personnel are not allowed to use TA to pay for courses for which they are receiving or will receive GI Bill education benefits. However, this does not mean you can't receive GI Bill benefits at the same time you’re using TA to pay for some of your courses.
EXAMPLE: Say you're taking 6 courses totaling 18 credits. You know that the maximum benefits you can received under the MGIB-AD, MGIB-SR, or REAP top out at 12 credits (or whatever your school considers full-time attendance). That is, you don't receive any more GI Bill money for any credits you take beyond those 12.
If you wanted to, you could file a GI Bill benefits claim for 4 of your courses (12 credits) and use TA to pay for the other two courses (6 credits). Or any combination, as long as you’re not receiving GI Bill benefits for courses TA is paying for.
Just make sure the person verifying the number of credits you're taking for GI Bill purposes doesn't tell the DVA you're claiming 18 credits. Anything more than the total number of credits you’re taking minus the number being paid for by TA is contrary to Coast Guard regulations and could subject you to action under the UCMJ.
Many people who are taking college courses using TA don’t realize that certain fees are covered by TA. These include:
fees for the laboratory part of a certain courses (e.g., chemistry course, to cover chemicals and broken glassware),
studio fees (e.g., to pay for models or consumables like paints, clay, darkroom chemicals, etc.),
shop fees (e.g., for things like wood, broken tools, etc.),
library fees, and
Internet or technology fees required for distance learning courses.
Fees and costs not directly related to the course you are taking (e.g., fees all students must pay regardless of the course they're taking) are not covered by TA. These include things like:
application, entrance, registration, or enrollment fees, record maintenance fees, student activity fees, student ID fees,
parking fees, general technology fees, equipment (e.g., PDAs), manuals, or books,
non-consumable materials, assembled items available commercially (e.g., computers, tools, TVs, etc.),
flight time, flying lessons, or non-credit aviation courses,
Internet or technology fees all students must pay,
personal/home Internet service fees,
the cost of books, supplies, tools or equipment required for specific courses but not included in a course-related fee.
If TA doesn’t cover the whole cost of a course and if you’re eligible for benefits under either the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) or the Post-9/11 GI Bill you can use an option called Top-up. Top-up allows you to get reimbursed for any costs not covered by TA.
Tuition and certain fees not covered by TA will show up on your TA authorization under the heading STU SHARE (student share), which means you have to pay for them. However, if you want to use Top-up to cover those costs, just print out a copy of your TA authorization, print TOP UP across the top of the form, and send it to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
If you had to pay for fees you couldn’t list on your TA request, you may receive Top-up reimbursement for them, as well. But you will need documentation showing that those fees were not included on your TA authorization and send it with the documentation described above to the DVA.
Your 36-month GI Bill entitlement will be reduced by a certain amount when
you use Top-up. To calculate the amount of time which will be deducted from
your entitlement, go here if you're
eligible for new (Post-9/11) GI Bill benefits, or
here if you're eligible for Montgomery GI
Bill (Active Duty) benefits.
Officers (regular and Reserve) incur service obligations when they use TA. Specifically, regular officers incur a two-year service obligation for each course they use TA to pay for. The obligation begins on the date the most recent course taken ends. For Reserve officers, the obligation is for four years. Read ALCOAST 012/09 for the complete policy.
These obligations run concurrently, not consecutively. That is, if you use TA to pay for another course that ends before a previous obligation ends, your obligation is extended to the date that's two or four years after the date you completed the most recent course paid for with TA.