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Top-Up Program

On October 30, 2000, the President signed into law an amendment to the GI Bill® that permits the Department of Veteran Affairs to pay a Tuition Assistance Top-up benefit. If you’re eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (Ch. 30), and plan to use Tuition Assistance (TA), and your TA will not pay 100% of tuition and fees, you can use the Top-Up program to pay the outstanding balance with your GI Bill. The amount of the benefit can be equal to the difference between the total cost of the course and the amount of Tuition Assistance paid for the course.

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The Basics:

Who is eligible?

  • To be eligible to use Top-Up, you must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30 only).

How much will Top-Up pay?

  • Top-Up payments are limited to the typical amount that would be paid under regular GI Bill benefits and the cost of the course. The amount of TA paid, combined with the amount paid by the VA, cannot exceed the total cost of the course.

How does this affect my GI Bill?

  • The Montgomery GI Bill (Ch. 30) will be charged based on the dollar amount of benefits the VA pays you. You will be charged one month of entitlement for each payment you receive that is equal to the full time monthly rate for the GI Bill. If the payment you receive is less than the full time monthly rate, your entitlement will be charged a pro-rated amount. For example, if your payment equals half of the monthly full time rate, your entitlement will be charged for half a month. Visit our Pay Rates webpage for more information on Chapter 30 monthly rates.

The Process:

If you’ve never used GI Bill benefits before:

  1. Request TA from your branch of service.
  2. Complete an application for VA education benefits, VA Form 22-1990.
  3. Indicate “Top-up” on the VA application in item 1A under the MGIB-Active Duty block.
  4. Send your TA approval form, along with the application for VA education benefits, to the VA Regional Processing Office that handles your claim. The address is on the VA form.

If you have used GI Bill benefits before:

  1. Request TA from your branch of service.
  2. Submit your signed TA approval form to the VA Regional Processing Office that handles your claim.

The application and other evidence should be sent to one of VA’s four education processing offices in Atlanta, Buffalo, Muskogee (OK), or St. Louis. Claims should specify that Tuition Assistance Top-up is being claimed.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.