New participants are no longer being accepted in the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), but current and previous veterans in the REAP program still have another four years to use their benefits.
REAP (Chapter 1607 of Title 10, U.S. Code) was originally enacted to provide educational benefits to members of the Reserve Components (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserves; Army and Air National Guard) who were called or ordered to active duty in response to a war or national emergency declared by the President or Congress.
The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — signed into law by President Obama on November 25, 2015 — ended the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP). Veterans who currently or previously were in the REAP program will generally have until November 25, 2019 to use their remaining benefits.
According to the VA, participation has been declining steadily since the start of the Post-9/11 GI Bill; there were less than 14,000 participants in FY2014. One reason for the decline is that Veterans eligible for REAP may also be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a more generous educational benefit.
The program sunset affects participants differently:
- Current participants — Veterans attending an educational institution 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 Nov. 25, 2019.
- Program applicants not attending school — Veterans who applied for REAP but were not attending an educational institution on November 24, 2015, or during the last semester, quarter, or term ending prior to that date are no longer eligible to receive REAP benefits.
- New applicants – Veterans who have not enrolled in school and applied for REAP benefits prior to Nov. 25, 2015, are no longer eligible for REAP benefits.
- If found eligible, current participants can consider an irrevocable election for the Post-9/11 GI Bill instead of REAP
For questions about the changes to the REAP Program, Veterans can speak with a VA Education Call Center Agent at 1-888- GIBILL-1 (1.888.442.4551), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.