Articles & Resources > Military >

Tuition Assistance Benefits for Active-Duty Coast Guard Personnel

Tuition Assistance Benefits for Active-Duty Coast Guard Personnel

Last Updated January 14, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard offers tuition assistance to active-duty Guardsmen to earn their first certificate or associate, bachelor, or master’s degree. As with all military branches, those in the Coast Guard who seek Coast Guard Tuition Assistance (“CGTA”) must first determine what they qualify for and follow specific steps to apply for aid. 

Who Qualifies for Coast Guard Tuition Assistance?

The Coast Guard authorizes tuition assistance for active-duty members, according to the official FY21 Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Policy (“CG Policy”). CGTA is only offered for those who are getting their first certificate or degree. The Coast Guard does not offer CGTA to those seeking a degree at the same or lower level than one they have already earned. CGTA also will not be authorized for any degree above a master’s degree, including Juris Doctor, doctoral degrees, and similar terminal degrees.

In addition, active-duty Coast Guard members must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Satisfactory progress toward completion of unit qualifications,
  2. Satisfactory progress toward watch station qualifications,
  3. Satisfactory proficiency of craft, and
  4. Satisfactory conduct during the prior six months.

How Much Does Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Pay?

The maximum amount of CGTA that the Coast Guard will pay is set at the following levels, according to the CGTA Policy.

  • $250.00 per semester hour
  • $166.67 per quarter hour
  • $16.67 per clock hour

The policy also states that annual CGTA is capped at $2,250 and that lifetime benefits cannot exceed 130 semester hours for an undergraduate degree or 40 semester hours for a master’s degree.

CGTA cannot be applied to fees, such as book, lab, graduation, and internet usage fees. Coast Guardsmen may use CGTA only at schools that have signed a Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding. Villanova University is among the participating schools.

How to Apply For Coast Guard Tuition Assistance

Coast Guardsmen must receive approval to apply for CGTA from their commanding officer. They must also complete a tuition assistance counseling worksheet to determine eligibility. Coast Guardsmen are encouraged to work with their local Education Services Officer (ESO) to develop a plan for completing their degree or certificate program.

Coast Guard members must complete and file a tuition assistance application with the Coast Guard no less than 14 days before classes start. The application is submitted to the Education and Training Quota Management Command (ETQC) via the online MyEducationPortal.

ESOs must validate degree plans prior to approval of the CGTA application.

Sources of Funding Beyond Tuition Assistance

Coast Guardsmen may be eligible to seek financial aid from non-Coast Guard sources, such as federal student aid like Pell Grants and loans. According to the CG Policy, federal student assistance received through the U.S. Department of Education will not subtract from what is received through CGTA. 

Coast Guardsmen may also qualify for the Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program under the GI Bill®. If a Coast Guardsman uses the Montgomery GI Bill® for this purpose, they will receive the difference between CGTA and the total cost of the course. If a Coast Guardsman uses the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) will pay the school the difference between CGTA and the authorized maximum tuition and fees. The VA recommends using the GI Bill® Comparison Tool before applying for benefits through the Top-Up Program. 

Information provided as to the availability and eligibility for military or veteran education assistance programs is for general informational use only. Benefit certification depends upon, among other things, your eligibility, enrollment status, and certified program of study.

CGTA: Please check with the local Education Services Officer (ESO) for eligibility, benefit amount, and application processes specific to your situation.

VA Benefits: Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education and Training Benefits page for more information. Also, visit the Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS) to view which programs of study or courses are currently certified.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at