Basic guidelines for tuition assistance are the same for each service, with a yearly cap of $4,500 and a credit cap of $250.

However, the process for using tuition assistance varies slightly among the services.

Marine CorpsMarines must fill out a tuition assistance application that requires a command approval for each class taken, said Bob Stenard, supervisory guidance counselor for MCCS Lifelong Learning at Camp Foster, Okinawa.

Marines must bring the approved assistance application to the education office before the start of the course. The education center will then provide the student with a tuition assistance authorization.

Marines also must have an official degree plan in their record by the time they have completed 12 semester if they are using tuition assistance.

NavySailors also need command approval for tuition assistance and must have an education plan or SOCNAV (Servicemembers Opportunity College – Navy) agreement before the course starts, said Tony Lugo, Okinawa’s Navy College Office director.

While the Navy pays 100 percent tuition assistance, sailors are limited to 16 semester hours, or 24 quarter hours per year.

ArmySoldiers applying for tuition assistance need command approval on a class-by-class basis and can complete requests online at, according to Jeff Fishman, education services officer at Torii Station, Okinawa. Students using tuition assistance also must have an official degree plan on record after completing six semester hours, he said.

Air ForceAirmen can apply for tuition assistance through the Air Force’s portal Web site

But before they can take off-duty education, they must complete career development courses that are specific to their job.

The Air Force is also the only service that offers a two-year degree through the Community College of the Air Force. The degree would be in the area of an airman’s job.

Airmen must have a degree plan if classes do not apply to their CCAF degree, and must undergo initial counseling before taking any college credits.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now