Many Selected Reservists (SEL RES) with deployed credentials are eligible for both the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Most of them jump on the Post 9/11 GI Bill bandwagon without giving REAP a second thought, but if you are still serving, have one deployment under your belt and are attending only online classes, REAP might be the better choice.
When REAP first came out, a SEL RES would get benefits based on the length of the deployment plus four months. For a typical one year deployment, the servicemember would get 16 months of benefits. Then, the REAP rules changed; now that same servicemember gets 36 months of benefits regardless of the number of months served on a qualifying Title 10 deployment tour.
If you are no longer serving in the SEL RES, then REAP is no longer an option. With a one-year tour or less, you would be at the 50% Post 9/11 GI Bill tier and you would have to pay for the other half of your tuition.
However, if you are still serving, use Federal Tuition Assistance and are in a state where your tuition is waivered for National Guard members, then your tuition is paid 100% in full. Then it comes down to which GI Bill would put the most money in your pocket – 50% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and book stipend, or REAP.
Under REAP with a one-year deployment or less, you would get $625.60 per month or $2,502.40 for a four-month semester. Out of this amount, you would have to pay for your own books. Let’s use the Post 9/11 GI Bill book stipend amount below of $250.08 as your book cost for ease of figuring. Under REAP, you would end up with $2,252.32 in your pocket for the semester.
As a full-time distance learning student using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get 50% of the fixed $673.50 per month MHA for online-only students or $1,347 for a four-month semester. You would also get a book stipend amount of 50% of the $41.67 per credit book stipend or $20.84 per credit. So using 12 credits as your school’s full-time threshold, that would amount to $250.08 in book stipend money or a total $1,597.08 in book stipend and MHA money for the semester.
So would you rather get $2,252.32 per semester under REAP or $1,597.08 under the Post 9/11 GI Bill to go to school online? I think the number speak for themselves. The lesson learned here is when considering using your GI Bill to go to school, be sure to consider all your options as the popular choice might not be your most lucrative choice.