Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
As part of the Defense Authorization Act of 2005, Congress acknowledged the debt the country also owed to the Reserve troops called up to active duty during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result of this acknowledgement, it created the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP).
Reserve and National Guard soldiers who've served 90 days or more of active duty since September 2001 are eligible for educational assistance that resembles the Montgomery GI Bill. Depending on the amount of time served, anywhere from $528 to $1,056 per month is sent directly to the veteran as benefits. This represents a 20 percent increase over the original amounts provided by the REAP bill [source: Military.com].
The benefits are also retroactive, so any member of the National Guard or a Reserve unit may be eligible if he or she served for 90 days or more since September 2001. In total, the REAP benefit can mean as much as $38,000 for a veteran of the Reserves or National Guard who's looking to further his or her education.
But what if you haven't served, but your parent or spouse did and tragedy befell him or her? The Veterans Affairs Administration also offers financial aid for some family members as well. Read about these on the next page.