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 (MGIB), and plan to use Tuition Assistance (TA), and your service will not pay 100% of tuition and fees, you can use Tuition Assistance Top-up to pay the outstanding balance. 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.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible for the Top-up benefits, 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 does Top-up pay?
The amount of the benefit is limited to the amount that person would receive for the same course if regular GI Bill benefits were being paid. The amount of TA paid, combined with the amount paid by the VA, cannot exceed the total cost of the course.
How will my GI Bill entitlement be charged?
If you receive the Top-up benefit, your regular GI Bill entitlement will be reduced.
- If you are utilizing the MGIB (Chapter 30), your entitlement is 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.
Can I use this benefit for previous semesters?
Top-up can apply retroactively but the VA can only go back one year from the date your claim was/is received by the VA. Also, Top-up can only be used for training in terms that began on or after October 30, 2000, which is the effective date of the law.
How do I apply?
These claims are handled differently from claims for MGIB without TA. For Top-up claims, you won’t need to check in with the school official who certifies VA benefits; Top-up is payable for any course for which TA is payable under DoD criteria.
- If you have previously applied for Chapter 30 of the GI Bill and weren’t denied benefits, simply submit your signed TA Authorization form to the VA Regional Processing Office shown below.
- If you have not previously applied for VA benefits, you will need to complete the VONAPP form 22-1990 and indicate “Top-up” on the VA application in item 1A. Then send your VONAPP and your signed TA Authorization form to the VA Regional Processing Office shown below.
- VA Regional Processing Office
P.O. Box 4616
Buffalo, NY 14240-4616
A Quick Overview of the process:
- Request TA from your branch of service. See your education services officer or education counselor.
- Complete an application for VA education benefits, VA Form 22-1990.
- Indicate "Top-up" on the VA application in item 1A under the MGIB–Active Duty block.
- 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 form.
- If you’ve previously filed a claim for MGIB and weren’t denied benefits, simply 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.