MGI Bill Buy-up Program lowers price of higher education

With a $600 contribution, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will "kick" an additional $5400 for college or educational expenses. (Graphic Illustration/Senior Airman Stephen Cadette)

With a $600 contribution, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will "kick" an additional $5400 for college or educational expenses. (Graphic Illustration/Senior Airman Stephen Cadette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Do you know the cost of college text books for four years?

In just one semester of college, a person can spend from $600-$1100 on average. Having the Montgomery GI Bill kicker will cover that cost for the four years a person is in college.

The Montgomery GI Bill Buy-up Program offers an extra $5,400, on top of the base $38,700, to help further the education of servicemembers.

After the $600 investment is paid while on active duty, the Buy-up program can only be used after an Airman leaves active duty, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Like the GI Bill, the kicker doesn't have to be used just for college.

"This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses; remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances," according to the veteran affairs Website.

To obtain the kicker, the servicemember must go to the Vandenberg Education Center and fill out the request.

"We'll need a copy to send to Air Force Personnel Center for processing," said David Kimble, an education technician with the Education Center.

Afterward, they would schedule an appointment with 30th Space Wing Comptroller Squadron customer service to set up a payment plan for the $600 and to fill out forms DD 2366 and DD 1131.

It is important for Airmen to keep copies of these forms.

"Currently the VA does not have a way to interface with the US Department of Defense to verify service members who pay the $600 additional contribution," according to the VA. "These documents provide proof to the VA that the $600.00 was paid and we will process your claim to include this kicker."

The old adage of "knowledge is power" has never been truer than it is today. When Airmen become civilians, the Buy-up affords them an economic advantage as they strive to further their education.