What is TOP-UP?
On October 30, 2000, the President signed into law an amendment to the Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty education program that permits VA to pay a Tuition Assistance Top- up benefit. If you’re eligible for MGIB, and plan to use Tuition Assistance (TA), and your service will not pay 100% of tuition and fees, you can use MGIB Top-up to pay the outstanding balance.
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 either MGIB-Active Duty (Ch. 30) or Post 9/11 GI Bill (Ch. 33) benefits.
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.
Important: If a person receives the Top-up benefit, his or her regular MGIB benefits will be reduced. The amount of entitlement charged for Top-up payments is determined by dividing the amount of the payment by the claimant's full-time monthly rate.
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 in 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.
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.