Tuition Assistance & CMD GI Bill
Tuition Assistance (TA) is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, to include National Guard and Reserves. This benefit may pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses of its members. Each service has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application processes and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the college or institution by the individual services. For additional information, contact your Base/Post Education Center or follow the links below for your particular service/component:
- Air Force Tuition Assistance
- Army Tuition Assistance
- Navy Tuition Assistance
- Marine Corps Tuition Assistance
- Coast Guard Tuition Assistance
- National Guard Tuition Assistance
- Reserve Tuition Assistance
Additionally, active-duty members may elect to use the MGIB "Top-Up" in addition to their service-provided TA to cover high-cost courses. You may contact the Center for Military-Connected Students on how to begin this procedure, or you may fill out an online application.
Frequently Asked Questions for the California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI Bill) formerly the California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program Important Changes to the Program
The California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNG EAAP) has changed to the California Military Department GI BillAward Program (CMD GI Bill) as of the 2020-2021 academic year
The program will remain unchanged for renewal participants who entered the program prior to the 2020-2021 academic year.
Effective for the 2020-2021 academic year, the requirement for new applicants to have already served 2 years in the California National Guard, California State Guard, or California Naval Militia prior to participation in the program has been removed.
New participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year will be required to provide 2 years of service in the California National Guard, California State Guard, or the California Naval Militia upon completion of the last academic period the CMD GI Bill is utilized.
New participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year, can only obtain one degree (baccalaureate, graduate, or doctoral) while participating in the program.
New participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year must complete their course of study within 10 years of initialacceptance into the program.
Only program participants who entered the program prior to the 2020-2021 academic year will be eligible for the $500 stipend for books and supplies for graduate students.
Q: I have not served a full 2 years yet. Can I apply now? A: Yes, Assembly Bill 2722 removed the 2 year prior service requirement for program participation but added a 2 year service commitment. Program participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year will be required to serve 2 years in the California National Guard, the California State Guard, or the California Naval Militia upon completion of the last academic period they use educational assistance under the CMD GI Bill.
Q: I am pursuing my Master’s (or Doctorate) degree. Can I use this program? A: Yes. You can use the CMD GI Bill to obtain any certificate/diploma/degree not already held, including a doctorate’s at an eligible institution as long as the institution determines it is an eligible program. Examples of ineligible programs at eligible institutions are certificate programs at the Extended Education/Continuing Education/University Extension Programs through the California State University and the University of California. You can contact the CMD GI Bill Coordinators to determine if the program is eligible. Program participants who entered the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year must not have previously participated in the program and obtained a baccalaureate, graduate, or doctoral degree.
Q: I have decided to change institutions starting spring (or winter or summer) term. How does this impact my CMD GI Bill? A: First, you will need to fill out a Record Change Request form. This can be found by contacting the CMD GI Bill Coordinator. Secondly, it is important to note that when you are accepted into the CMD GI Bill the maximum award amount you will receive is calculated based on the institution you initially put on the application. When you change your institution, this must be redetermined based on the maximum award amount based on the new institution. Eligibility for additional funds will be contingent upon funds being available. If funds are not available (as may happen when switching from a lower costing institution to a higher costing institution), you will receive funds based on the original institution. CMD GI Bill or Cal Grant
Q: The form asks me to choose the Cal Grant or the CMD GI Bill. How are they different? A: The Cal Grant program is more exclusive than the CMD GI Bill. You can find more information on the Cal Grant program by going to California Student Aid Commission. Click on the For Students link, select the Financial Aid Programs link, and then click on the Cal Grants link. It is best to ask your institution’s financial aid representative as they can advise you what dollar amount you might receive through the Cal Grant. The CMD GI Bill Coordinator cannot tell you this and will not tell you which program to pick. You must have applied for the Cal Grant by the March 2 deadline (for most institutions) or September 2 for California community colleges. Application Process
Q: What is the application process I need to complete to be considered a priority applicant? A: The Priority period for initial applications is January 15 to April 30. The priority application steps can be found by going to the CMD GI Bill website at Calguard Education Site and clicking the “New or Returning Students” tab for the academic year that you want to apply for. Priority applicants who meet the eligibility requirements and complete the 5 steps of the priority application process by April 30 will be reviewed by a board with a criteria* pre-determined by each service branch. Acceptance of priority applicants is based on the Priority Board ranking and availability of funding. Priority applicants will be notified if they are accepted after the Priority Board has met, the Interagency Agreement has been completed, budget is approved, and the systems have been updated in order to accept the applicant. Notification will not likely occur until October, at the earliest. Applicants typically wait 12 months from the time they complete the application process to when they find out whether or not they are accepted. *The criteria can change each year based on the Components retention goals and are different for each branch. The CMD GI Bill Coordinator will not tell you what the criteria is.
Q: What is the application process for non-priority applicants? A: After the April 30 priority deadline, applications will continue to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are depleted or until we no longer have authority to award, whichever comes first. Acceptance for first-come, first-serve applicants is based on the eligibility date and availability of funding. In the past years, it has typically taken 12 months from the time the application is completed to when we are able to accept first-come, first- serve applicants (for those whom funds become available). Page 2 of 7
Q: How do I complete the Statement of Understanding (SOU)? A: Once you’ve initialed after each statement, filled in the information, and signed the last page, you need to coordinate with your unit of assignment to have your Commander sign it prior to turning it in. Make a copy of the form for your records. After obtaining your Commander’s signature, the SOU needs to be sent back to the CMD GI Bill Coordinator within 30 days by scanning and emailing it (preferred), sending it via postal mail (which is not recommended because the time delay could put you further back on the waitlist), or submitting it in person. If you submit the wrong SOU (use a different year’s or submit a renewal SOU when you are a new applicant or vice versa), it will not be accepted and the correct one will need to be submitted. If you do not receive a confirmation that your SOU was received after 1 week, contact the CMD GI Bill Coordinator to make sure it has been received.
Q: How are participants chosen for each year? A: Each academic year, we allocate our funds first to our renewal participants, second to our priority participants, and lastly to our first-come, first-serve participants. There is not enough funding available to accept all eligible applicants at one time, so awards are given out to the maximum ability. As participants go on Leave of Absences, graduate, or are withdrawn for not attending and not submitting a Leave of Absence request, the funds originally allocated to them will be allocated to the next eligible participant. Eligible renewal participants are awarded based on their priority number. After all eligible renewal participants are offered an award, awards are assigned to priority applicants based on the order of ranking. Priority applicants (met priority deadline of April 30) are ranked by a priority board based on each component’s criteria (that may change annually). If funds are available after all priorityranked applicants have been awarded, additional awards will be given out to applicants based on a first-come, first-serve basis to those who have completed the application process after the priority deadline of April 30. Award Amount
Q: Does my GI Bill and/or my Federal Tuition Assistance Benefits affect my award? Page 3 of 7 A: California Statute requires that any benefits you receive from the Montgomery G.I. Bill or from any other federal educational benefits for veterans (VEB), including the monthly housing allowance (BAH), be subtracted from your Cost of Attendance (COA) as determined by your institution. COA means tuition, fees, housing, food, books, transportation, and personal expenses. The CMD GI Bill can cover the remaining cost of attendance up to the maximum award amount.
Q: Why is my BAH included in the VEB calculation? It is meant for living expenses? A: Because BAH is specifically provided as part of the Post 9/11 (or the VA Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program) and because the CMD GI Bill pays toward COA, not just tuition/fees, BAH must be included in the calculation. COA includes tuition/fees, books/supplies, housing, food, transportation, and personal expenses. It can also include an allowance for the rental or purchase of a computer, child care or other dependent care costs, and additional expenses for students with disabilities not already covered. Just like you cannot receive more in awards for tuition/fees than your actual tuition/fees, you cannot receive more in awards for your COA than your actual COA. COA is reported by your institution. If you think the COA reported by your institution does not accurately include your cost for tuition/fees, books/supplies, housing, etc., you can ask your institution to revise your COA. You may be required to submit documentation from the VA detailing the benefit you receive and/or that outlines what the VA paid toward your COA.
Q: How is my award amount calculated? A: The award for the term is calculated by taking your Cost of Attendance for the term (as provided by your institution) and subtracting any federal educational benefits received for the term to determine your unmet Cost of Attendance for the term. We can then award the lesser of the unmet Cost of Attendance for the term or the maximum award amount allowed for the term.
Q: How much money can I get each year for school? A: The amounts are tied to maximum amounts of the Cal Grant awards for each academic year (which goes from July 1 to June 30) and are based on a traditional 9-month academic year. The amounts are only known once the State budget has passed. The amounts for the 2019-20 AY are: Up to $1,672 at Community College (per Cal Grant B) Up to $12,570 at the University of California or a nonpublic institution (per Cal Grant A) Up to $5,742 at the California State University (per Cal Grant A) Graduate studies: for participants who entered the program prior to the 2020-2021 academic year, up to the maximum amount of Cal Grant A + $500 for books and supplies. These amounts are divided by the number of terms your institution has. If you are attending an institution with a semester schedule, the maximum you can receive each semester is half of the yearly amount (2 award checks for the year). If you are attending an institution with a quarter schedule, the maximum you can receive each quarter is one- third of the yearly amount (3 award checks for the year). If you are attending an institution that has a mandatory summer session as reported by your institution in the WebGrants System, then you will receive an additional check, increasing your maximum award amount for the academic year. This uses up an additional portion of your award percentage (more than 100% for the 9-month academic year) and you may not have enough to fully cover your fourth year.
Q: How long can I receive the CMD GI Bill Award? A: Participants can receive the CMD GI Bill award for a maximum of 4 full-time academic years of eligibility (400%) based on a traditional (9-month) school year. As the award is utilized, remaining eligibility is decreased based on enrollment status (i.e. quartertime, half-time, three-quarter time, or full-time) based on the schedule below. Semester or Trimester terms Full-time: 50% Three-quarter: 37.5% Half-time: 25% Quarter-time: 12.5% Quarter terms Full-time: 33.33% Three-quarter: 25% Half-time: 16.67% Quarter-time: 8.33% If you are attending an institution that has a mandatory summer session or is a year-round institution, then you will receive an additional check, increasing your maximum award amount for the academic year. This uses up an additional portion of your award percentage (more than 100% for the 9-month academic year) and you may not have enough to fully cover your fourth year. There are allowances for eligible undergraduate educational programs that require a 5th year of instruction, contingent upon funds being authorized and available. To find the list of eligible 5-year programs, go to California Student Aid Commission, click on the For Students tab at the top, and then select Student Forms. This form is specific to the Cal Grant program, so do not complete and submit this form. To request 5th year benefits for the CMD GI Bill, you must contact the CMD GI Bill Coordinator for the CMD GI Bill Page 4 of 7 ---- form for 5th year benefits. New participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year must complete their course of study within 10 years of initial acceptance into the program.
Q: What if I receive another award/grant/scholarship? A: There are a few ways this can impact you. Sometimes the rules of the other award/grant/scholarship do not allow you to receive other awards. The State University Grant (SUG) offered by CSU requires students to not be receiving a Cal Grant or other award designated to cover fees. The institution determines what awards/grants/scholarships requires you to choose between receive that award/grant/scholarship and the CMD GI Bill and what you can receive simultaneously. Any awards/grants/scholarships you receive simultaneously must be subtracted from the original Cost of Attendance. For example, if you receive the California College Promise Grant (formerly known as the BOG waiver), then the amount the California College Promise Grant paid towards the tuition/fees portion must be subtracted out of the original Cost of Attendance. You cannot receive award money from the CMD GI Bill for tuition/fees you are not being charged for. If you receive other awards that are need-based (such as the Pell Grant, the BOG waiver, the CSU State University Grant), then those awards may be reduced because a condition of those awards usually is that all your combined awards cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance. You should speak to your institution’s financial aid office about this to avoid any problems.
Q: Do student loans affect the CMD GI Bill? A: Student loans are not used in CMD GI Bill award calculations. Ideally, if your tuition/fees and books/supplies have already been paid, you will use the CMD GI Bill to pay back the student loans. Q: Does being accepted mean I will receive a check as long as I attend the minimum of 3 units? A: Not necessarily. If you are receiving a Cal Grant payment, you could still be accepted for the CMD GI Bill Program but you would not receive an award check from the CMD GI Bill as one of the requirements is that participants can only receive payments for either the Cal Grant or the CMD GI Bill in an academic year. Or, if the amount you receive in federal educational benefits for veterans meets or exceeds your cost of attendance as determined by the institution, you would still be an awardee but would not receive an award check. Or, as listed above, you may not receive an award check if you opt to receive other grants or scholarships over the CMD GI Bill when the rules of those grants or scholarships prohibits you from receiving both.
Q: I am not attending for a term. What do I need to do to stay in the program? A: If you are going to miss one or more terms, you need to complete the Record Change Request form for a Leave of Absence (LOA) in order to not be withdrawn. The Record Change Request form can be found by contacting the CMD GI Bill Coordinator. If your LOA is not approved or you do not submit a LOA request, you will be withdrawn from the program for the academic year. If you then wanted to participate in the CMD GI Bill for future academic years, you would then have to go through the application process again and will be competing for an open spot with the new applicants. There is no guarantee a new spot will be available. If you entered the Program prior to 2020-2021 and are withdrawn and have to reapply, you will fall under the new rules of the CMD GI Bill, including the 2 year service commitment to the California National Guard, California State Guard, or the California Naval Militia upon completion of the last academic period the CMD GI Bill is utilized.
Q: How long can I stay on a leave of absence? A: You can request a Leave of Absence (LOA) for up to one (1) year. An LOA for more than 1 year may be approved for special circumstances, such as deployment. Summer Term Q: Is my summer session considered mandatory or discretionary? A: It depends on how your school has established the terms in the California Student Aid Commission’s WebGrants database. If you are attending an institution that requires mandatory summer sessions for all of its students, you will receive money for the summer sessions. Or, If you are attending an institution where summer sessions are not required for all students attending the institution, the summer term is considered discretionary (optional), even if it is mandatory for your specific program. Students attending discretionary summer terms may receive money if there are remaining funds available after all mandatory terms have been paid. When making a decision regarding your summer attendance, remember a participant receives 400% of program eligibility based on full-time enrollment for fall and spring. Eligibility is used for each term the participant attends and the amount of usage is determined by the institution’s type of term (quarter or semester) and your attendance status. This means you may not have enough to fully cover your fourth year. Only a few schools have a mandatory summer term established in WebGrants. Contact the CMD GI Bill Coordinator to find out if it is discretionary or mandatory. We do not expect to have enough funds in the future to issue discretionary summer term award checks.
Q: What are the requirements to receive an award check for summer? A: As of January 1, 2015, students who want to receive an award check for summer must submit a signed letter from their unit commander stating that attending the summer term will not adversely impact attendance at mandatory military training. If you are attending a discretionary summer term, an award check will only be issued if there are enough funds remaining after all mandatory terms have been paid. All participants who would like to receive a summer term payment, even if the term is considered mandatory, must complete the Summer Term Certification. The Summer Term Certification form is available under the Summer Term tab at the CMG GI Bill website: https://calguard.ca.gov/education. Remaining in the Program
Q: Under what circumstances could I be removed from the program? A: Awardees could be removed at any time if they do not continue to meet the requirements. Removal could occur if you: Left or lost status as an active member of the California National Guard, California State Guard, or California Naval Militia (Permanent withdrawal) Lost status of California residency Switched to an ineligible institution Did not attend a required term and failed to submit a Leave of Absence request Did not maintain 3 units for the term and failed to submit a Leave of Absence request Did not maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher (Permanent withdrawal) Used up all of the 400% eligibility (Permanent withdrawal) Falsifying or misrepresenting data (Permanent withdrawal)
Q: What do I need to do to continue in the program the next academic ear? A: Awardees need to submit a renewal application and renewal Statement of Understanding for each academic year (until their Page 6 of 7 eligibility is exhausted or they become disqualified). Renewal applications will be accepted from January 15 to June 1. Awardees who do not complete the renewal application process by the June 1 deadline will be withdrawn from the program for the upcoming academic year and will lose their current “spot.” In order to participate in the CMD GI Bill for future academic years, you will then have to complete the application process “For New or Returning Students” and will be competing for an open spot with the new applicants. There is no guarantee a new spot will be available. You would be subject to the new rules for the CMD GI Bill.
Q: I missed the renewal deadline. Is there anything I can do now? A: If you are a participant who did not renew by the June 1 deadline, you can reapply as a “new or returning” applicant for the next academic year. Because the April 30 priority deadline will have passed, you will be applying as a first-come, first-serve applicant. You must complete the application process and will be competing for a new spot with the other hundreds of applicants who have applied for the year. Acceptance will be based on when you completed the process and on the availability of funds. The CMD GI Bill Coordinator The CMD GI Bill Coordinators’ contact information can be found at the CMG GI Bill home page Calguard Education Site. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of all of the factors involved, the CMD GI Bill Coordinators cannot predict when you will be accepted or, if you are accepted, when your institution will input your enrollment information. Detailed Award Payment Process Information
As of the 2013-2014 academic year (an academic year runs from July 1 to June 30), the Priority period for initial applications is January 15 to April 30. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements and complete the 5 steps of the application process (found at Calguard Education Site) during that timeframe will have their file ranked by a board with criteria* determined by each service branch. Applicants will be notified if they are accepted after the Priority Board has met and the list has been approved by OTAG. Because of the various factors (the annual Budget Act must be approved by the Governor and the renewal applicants must first be renewed), notification will not likely occur until October, at the earliest. After the April 30 priority deadline, applications will continue to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are depleted or until we no longer have authority to award, whichever comes first. On average, applicants have to wait 12 months from the time they complete the application process to when they find out if they are accepted.
After you have been accepted for the CMD GI Bill, your file is activated and processed in the California Student Aid Commission’s WebGrants System database.
Your institution will receive an e-mail notice when they can go into the Commission’s WebGrants System to enter your enrollment information (which must be done each term). Traditional institutions are asked to wait until the census date (last date to drop and receive a refund) has passed. Non-traditional institutions must wait 30 days after the term has started. When an institution has multiple sessions in a term, they must wait until the last session of the term has started before requesting the award check.
After the payment has been requested, it typically takes 30 days for the award check to be mailed to the institution (or in busy periods, it can take 6 weeks). It cannot be expedited. The check is made out directly to you and is mailed to your school’s financial aid office.
When the check is mailed to the institution, you will receive an automatically generated e-mail message to let you know it has been sent and that your institution should be contacting you in the next few weeks to come pick it up. (Do not reply to this email. It is not checked.) It is up to the institution on how they disburse the funds. Some deposit any funds received into the student’s account and then the student can receive a refund of whatever is remaining. Others require the student to come into the office to sign the check over to the institution. And some disburse the check directly to the student.
Your next award check cannot be issued until your institution has marked the current check as “Payment Disbursed.” At that time, the next term will become open for the institution to enter information (with the requirements listed in step 3).