The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) is going away. The 2016 National Defense Act called for the end of the REAP program and closed it doors to new applicants. However, military members who were previously or currently enrolled in REAP will be eligible to continue using their benefits until November 25, 2019.
Why is REAP being cancelled? REAP has become redundant. The Reserve Educational Assistance Program is only open to members of the Reserve Corps who are called to duty in support of a contingency operation and serve for at least 90 days. Most of these service members are also eligible to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. So in most cases, REAP was a duplication of benefits, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill program is a more valuable benefit.
The 2016 National Defense Act also included more paid training sessions for activated Guard and Reserve members. These include a pre-mobilization session, a mid-deployment training session, and two post-deployment sessions. These training sessions focus on preparing for deployments and mobilizations, coping with the challenges of deployments and mobilizations, and reintegrating and reconnecting with families and their communities.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program Eligibility
The Reserve Education Assistance Program provides education benefits to members of the Selected Reserve (Guard or Reserves) or the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) who are called to active duty in support of a war or national emergency, as declared by Congress. The qualifying service must have occurred on or after September 11, 2001.
Members are eligible for REAP benefits once they reach at least 90 days of consecutive service (the 90 days of consecutive service is waived if the member becomes ill, injured, or disabled in the line of duty during those 90 days).
Mobilizations and deployments in support of military operations qualify for REAP benefits, as do many other types of activations, including humanitarian aid, natural disasters, and other types of service.
Eligibility is ultimately determined by the DoD and Department of Homeland Security, and benefits are paid out by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Members normally have 10 years to use their REAP benefits after separating from the Guard or Reserves. However, members lose their benefits if they leave the Guard or Reserves before completing their contract term. The early out provision is waived for those who are forced out of the Guard or Reserves due to injury, illness, or disability incurred in the line of duty.
REAP Educational Benefits
The Reserve Education Assistance Program benefits can be used for the pursuit of college degrees or other training. However, these benefits cannot be used in conjunction with other VA education benefits, such as the GI Bill, even if participants are eligible for both the REAP and the Post-9/11 GI Bill programs. Service members can only use one benefit at a time.
Choosing to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill instead of the REAP benefit is an irrevocable decision. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is much more valuable, so many service members are better off using the Post-9/11 GI Bill (the REAP program was instituted before the Post-9/11 GI Bill program was created; this is why REAP is being cancelled).
How the End of the REAP Program Affects Reservists
This change affects beneficiaries differently (source):
- Current REAP beneficiaries — Veterans who were attending an educational institution on November 24, 2015, or during the last semester, quarter, or term ending prior to that date, are eligible to continue to receive REAP benefits until November 25, 2019.
- REAP beneficiaries not attending school — Veterans who applied for REAP but were not attending an educational institution on November 24, 2015, or during the last semester, quarter, or term ending prior to that date, are no longer eligible to receive REAP benefits. You may be eligible to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- New REAP applicants – Veterans who have not enrolled in school and applied for REAP benefits prior to November 25, 2015, are no longer eligible for REAP benefits. However, in most cases, you will be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program Rates
Educational Assistance Allowance for trainees under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Ch. 1607 of Title 10, U.S.C.). The following basic monthly rates are effective October 1, 2015.
For trainees on active duty, payment is limited to reimbursement of tuition and fees for the training taken.
|Training Time||Consecutive service of 90 days but less than one year||Consecutive service of 1 year +||Consecutive service of 2 years +|
|Less than 1/2 time More than 1/4 time||$357.80**||$536.70**||$715.60**|
|1/4 time or less||$178.90**||$268.35**||$357.80**|
Note: Reduced rates will apply for correspondence education, flight training, apprenticeship/OJT, and licensing and certification training. See full rate list here.
$600 Buy-Up Program. Some Servicemembers may contribute up to an additional $600 to the GI Bill to receive increased monthly benefits. For an additional $600 contribution, you may receive up to $5,400 in additional GI Bill benefits. The additional contribution must be made while on active duty. View increased monthly rates and contact your personnel or payroll office.
Learn More About REAP
The details of the REAP Program are fairly extensive. More detail can be found in Chapter 1607 of Title 10, U.S. Code, or in this VA Pamphlet 22-05-1.