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Reservists can't use both the GI Bill and Reserve Tuition Assistance

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Reservists receive an array of benefits when they sign on the dotted line.

According to the 446th Force Support Squadron Education Office, the Montgomery GI Bill and Reserve Tuition Assistance are the two most commonly used. In the past few months an issue has arisen about Reservists using both benefits at the same time, and this is not allowed.

"You cannot use both the GI Bill and tuition assistance at the same time for the same class," said Capt. Vanessa Balint, 446th Force Support Squadron operations officer. "It is stated in the Tuition Assistance contract and it is the members' responsibility to read it."

Maria Endris, an education counselor with the 446th Education Office, explains the difference between the two is. "The GI Bill pays the school directly at the beginning of the semester and has a cap of 48 months," said Endris. "Tuition assistance reimburses the student at the end of the semester for courses successfully completed, and there is no cap. Reservists can use TA for as long as they are a participating Reservist."

According to Endris, the GI Bill pays the tuition at the start of the semester. TA reimburses the member at the end of the semester for classes completed with a passing grade.

"You can apply for both benefits and be eligible for both, you just can't use both at the same time," said Endris. "It is the member's responsibility to read their Tuition Assistance contract and understand what the criteria are."

The two processes for applying are not linked so there is no formal way to check if Reservists are applying for and using both benefits at the same time. However, the education office has been contacting the Veterans Affairs to check what benefits the member has applied for and what they're using, Endris said.

"I don't have to check, but I do," said Endris. "Even though Reservists sign a form stating they know they cannot use both benefits at the same time, they might not be fully aware. I check to help them avoid paying a debt later on."

If a member is using both benefits, the education office is required to send a letter to 446th AW Finance Office stating that a member now owes a debt. Finance then sends a letter to the member informing them of the debt. The education office would like to catch the problem before a debt is incurred, said Endris.

"We want to help people who may be unaware of the criteria involved with using these benefits so they can avoid a debt collection," said Balint. "We realize the process is confusing, so we encourage the members to ask questions."

For more information please contact Maria Endris in the 446th AW Education Office at 982-2300.

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