The Reserve Educational Assistance Program or REAP was a Department of Defense program designed to help members of “Reserve components called or ordered to active duty in response to a war or national emergency declared by the president or Congress” according to the VA official site. As we’ll discuss below, REAP was ended by an act of Congress, but some may still be able to use the benefit until the program finally expires for good in 2019.
Members of both the National Guard and the Reserves may have been eligible for REAP depending on date of enlistment and other factors. According to a DoD REAP pamphlet, eligibility for REAP benefits depended on the following criteria:
- Served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, “in support of a contingency operation for 90 consecutive days or more”;
- Performed full-time National Guard duty under section 502 (f) of title 32 “for 90 consecutive days or more when authorized by the President or Secretary of Defense for the purpose of responding to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by Federal funds.”
- Called or ordered to active service “while serving in the Selected Reserve remains entitled to benefits under REAP only by continuing to serve in the Selected Reserve. A member called or ordered to active service from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) remains entitled to benefits under REAP by continuing to serve in the Ready Reserve (either Selected Reserve or IRR).”
The End Of REAP
The Reserve Educational Assistance Program was ended by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, but there are Reservists who may still be affected by REAP until 2019.
According to the VA, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® replaces many of the old REAP benefits. However, there are many in uniform who should know what the DoD has allowed in the final days of this program, and what the deadlines are for using REAP benefits where applicable.
Information For Current REAP beneficiaries
Veterans who were attending classes on November 24, 2015, or during the last semester, quarter, or term ending prior to that date, “are eligible to continue to receive REAP benefits until November 25, 2019” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Information For REAP beneficiaries Not Attending Classes
If you applied for REAP but were not attending school on November 24, 2015, (or during the last semester, quarter, or term ending prior to that date) you are no longer eligible to receive REAP benefits, according to www.VA.gov. Borrowers who are affected by this change should explore their eligibility options under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Information For New REAP Applicants
As with REAP beneficiaries who were not attending classes on the November 24, 2915 cutoff date, potential new applicants have no access to REAP benefits. According to the VA official site, “…in most cases, you will be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill…” if you fall into this category.
Eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill depends on the dates of your service. Review your GI Bill options with a VA representative or call the VA GI Bill hotline at 1-888-GIBILL to discuss your options.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News