Using Top-Up benefits may be an option if you plan to use tuition assistance (TA) to complete a degree program while on active duty, and don't plan to continue your education after service. Top-up can also be helpful for just taking a few courses with TA while on active duty; then you can save most of your GI Bill benefits for after service to complete your education program.
You need to consider carefully your own situations and contact your School Certifying Official (SCO) to discuss applying for Top-up. For example, if you plan to take expensive courses using Top-up, you need to consider whether you'll take additional training after you're discharged from active duty. If so, you need to understand the effect of using the Top-up. You can then calculate whether your remaining benefits will cover the additional training you might need. Get the Top-Up fact sheet.
The Top-up program is only available for recipients of the Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty or Post-9/11 GI Bill programs.
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 this 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. To be eligible for the Top-up benefit, you must be approved for federal TA by a military department and be eligible for Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
The amount of the benefit is limited to the amount that the person would receive for the same course if regular 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. If you are receiving the Montgomery GI Bill, you will receive the difference between what the DoD pays for the course and the total cost of the course (not to exceed the GI Bill monthly maximum). If you are receiving the Post-9/11 GI Bill your school will be reimbursed the difference between the amount the DoD pays for the course and the authorized maximum tuition and fees for the school.
Your GI Bill entitlement is charged differently depending on which GI Bill program you are using:
First, apply for GI Bill benefits.
Contact your School Certifying Official (SCO) to discuss applying for Top-Up.
Veterans Crisis Line:
1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs | 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington DC 20420
Last updated October 26, 2015