How to Pay for College Without Using Your GI Bill; New York Naval Militia and Guard Education Benefits

Whether your strategy is to conserve your GI Bill benefits for graduate or professional school, you are ineligible for full benefits as a reservist, or you are looking for supplemental funding for private school, you may be seeking alternative ways to finance your undergraduate degree.

Utilizing the generous educational benefits offered by The Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program (RIRP) for the New York State Naval Militia, New York State Army National Guard, and New York State Air National Guard is a great way to achieve those goals. This article is New York State specific.  However, even if you are not a resident or considering a move to New York, it may be worth the leg work to see if your state has a similar program.

Drilling Federal Selected Reservists (SELRES) in good standing of any branch who are also residents of New York or whose active drilling location is New York State are eligible for membership in the New York Naval Militia, New York Army National Guard and New York Air National Guard. Membership is also open to resident veterans and retirees based on the needs and requirements of the organization. RIRP is a generous educational incentive to join.

RIRP can be used for a first bachelor’s or associate’s degree. It can be used at any college, university, or community-technical college located in the State of New York and recognized by the New York State Board of Regents or State University of New York.

To use RIRP, you must be a member of the Militia or Guard for at least 30 days, to have been a resident of New York State for 186 days before and after using benefits, apply for TAP and FAFSA, and be enrolled for at least 6 credit hours per semester.

RIRP covers the current State University of New York’s (SUNY) maximum in-state undergraduate tuition per semester. This means that if you attend a State school, your tuition is completely covered. The rate for the Spring 2019 semester was $3,435.

These programs recruit out of reserve centers, so most of them will have a representative that can help you. Pay close attention to application deadlines, as you are required to reapply each semester.

Some of my contemporaries who are actively using the program have advised that the Naval Militia requirements are relatively modest. While you may be required to mobilize for disaster relief or other orders, they generally ask for volunteers first. Generally, in practice, there are enough volunteers to fill order requirements. If you are activated or volunteer for orders with the Militia, you are paid the same pay and allowances as your paygrade.

For more information with respect to joining the New York Naval Militia:

For more information with respect to specific residency and application requirements for RIRP: