What is the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)?

The military operates a number of programs designed to help soldiers and veterans afford the high cost of going to college, and one of the programs it offered in the past was the Reserve Education Assistance Program. Better known as REAP, this program applied to any member of the armed forces who served as a Reservist rather than those who enlisted in a higher branch like the Navy or the Army. Though the program is no longer open, some can still take advantage of its benefits.

History of the Program

Following the end of World War II, the United States government created the GI Bill and signed the Bill into law to assist the veterans coming home from war. After realizing that Reservists serving in other branches of the military did not qualify for those benefits or only qualified for a small percentage of the benefits available, the government created REAP. In 2015, the government announced that it would discontinue this program. Though several thousand veterans took advantage of the program, it only represented a small amount of the money spent by veterans on higher education.

Who Was Eligible?

One reason the government ended the Reserve Education Assistance Program is because the requirements for eligibility were so strict. The program was originally only open to those who enlisted in one of the Reserve branches following the events of September 11, 2001. The military then limited the program to those who actually served time overseas. It later expanded to include any Reservists who spent a period of 90 days or more on active duty and then those who enlisted and spent at least 90 in one of the Reservist groups like the National Guard.

How Much Did They Get?

Those who enlist in a branch of the major armed forces must commit to spending at least four years in that organization. Those who enlist in one of the reserve branches may enlist for two years or less. Reservists who used this program found that the amount they received depended on the amount of time they spent enlisted. Those who served more than six months but less than 12 months in the organization received less than $800, but those who spent one to two years or more serving their country qualified for more than $1,000.

What Reservists Can Do Now

Though this program no longer exists, members of the National Guard, the Army Reserves and similar military organizations may still qualify for some benefits. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, those soldiers now qualify for the GI Bill, which awards them more benefits and larger amounts of money for school. The Department of Veterans Affairs also points out that some Reservists may still qualify for benefits under the old program up until November of 2019. The Post-9/11 GI Bill now provides similar and better benefits to any soldiers who served on active duty following that date.

The terrorist attacks on New York City led to men and women all across the country enlisting to serve their country. Those soldiers had the chance to get educational benefits through the Reservist program. While the Reserve Education Assistance Program no longer exists, some can continue getting benefits until 2019 and most will now qualify for improved benefits through the GI Bill.