Veteran's Guide for Academic Aid & Programs
The Veteran's Guide for Academic Aid and Programs
In past years, the government has put forth great financial efforts to encourage Veterans to go back to school. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is working. Military service members are going back to school and making use of the benefits offered by the government.
If you or someone you know has served in the military and wants to go back to school, there are a number of awards you could qualify for on a governmental or institutional level. CollegeStats designed this guide to outline the different awards and programs that provide educational assistance to veterans and their dependents.
FEDERAL PROGRAMS FOR VETERANS
The GI Bill was designed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to encourage veterans to get the training and education they need to have a rewarding career. It helps by paying for tuition and housing, while guiding veterans to many different educational and training opportunities. While it all sounds simple, there are actually many facets to the system. First of all, there are two versions of the GI Bill. One is the Montgomery GI Bill, and the other is the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Let’s take a quick look at each and what they are all about:
If you are a veteran who served for at least 90 days after September 10, 2011, you should be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This program expands educational benefits for veterans and active duty soldiers. How it works is benefits are given for 36 months for active duty members. Honorably discharged veterans have up to 15 years from their last day of service to claim their benefits.
The great thing about the Post-9/11 GI Bill is that it covers all of your tuition and fees. How great does free education sound? Of course, this will depend on your length of service and whether you choose to attend a public or private school. Full benefits are awarded to those who have served a minimum of three years. However, if you only have 90 days of service, you may still be eligible for as much as 40% of the total tuition coverage. This program also provides housing assistance (terms and conditions will depend on school) and a stipend of up to $1,000 each year for school supplies and books.
This program is good to know about if you plan on attending a private college or a university out-of-state. While the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover up to 100% of the cost of tuition and fees for those attending public in-state colleges, it will not for those wishing to go to a private school or one out of state. The Yellow Ribbon Program is designed to make up for this difference to help those whose benefit amounts are limited.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR MY BENEFITS?
Applying for GI Benefits is a pretty simple process as long as you know what to expect, are prepared, and meet the deadlines. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on applying for GI benefits:
- Review the different benefit options and see which one will be best for you. Some things to consider are:
- What level of education or training will I be going for? Will the program cover it?
- How will I study? Online learners receive half of the national average of BAH if enrolled full-time. In order to receive any BAH at all under the Post 9-11 BI Bill, a student must be enrolled in more than half time. If enrolled in half time or less, the student will not receive BAH. If a student is enrolled in more than half time but less than full-time, they will not receive the full amount-they will receive prorated BAH.
- Where will I study? Students who choose to attend a public, in-state college or university will get more benefits. Also, if you attend a low cost-of-living and low in-state tuition college, you will likely receive more benefits by choosing the single monthly payment Montgomery GI Bill instead of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Gather all the required paperwork and be prepared to provide the following information prior to applying:
- Pick your college or university, keeping in mind the following:Costs and benefits will vary depending on:
- Where your school is located
- Whether you end up using the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Your eligibility percentage
- Whether you decide to attend a public or private school
- Private institutions often participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover increased tuition for students
- Fill out and submit an online application or apply by mail within eligibility period (10 years for Montgomery GI Bill and 15 years for Post-9/11 GI Bill).
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR VETERANS & MILITARY PERSONNEL
Depending on your military service and how much money you qualify for under the GI Bill, you may want to look into scholarships to help pay for school. Scholarships are great because they are essentially gifted money that does not need to be repaid. Every scholarship offers different amounts and has their own requirements. Some worthy of checking out include:
- Eligible for students 24 years or younger
- At least 1 parent served as active duty or reserve military personnel or killed in line of duty or got a permanent disability from their service
- One-time award of $2,500 to selected applicants
- Deadline to submit applications is 3/1
- Awarded over 1,900 scholarships during 2012-2013 academic year
- Children of at least one parent must:
- Be an active duty or reserve U.S. Marine
- Be a veteran who received an honorable discharge or was killed while serving
- Student must:
- Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
- Not have a family adjusted gross income exceed $91,000
- Plan to attend an accredited college to pursue a bachelor’s degree or technical certificate
- Deadline to submit applications is 3/1 prior to the academic year student wishes to receive financial aid
- $5,000 award
- Eligible are incoming freshmen who have “completed both phases of General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant application”
- Applicants are based on these criteria:
- High school transcripts
- Response to an assigned essay topic
- SAT/ACT scores
- Volunteer work
- Extracurricular activities
- One $2,000 scholarship awarded per location
- Deadline for applications is 1/22
- Money can be used to cover:
- Lab materials
- Administrative fees
- $2,000 or $3,400 award
- Unmarried high school graduate under 24 years old of current or former members of the U.S. Navy or submarine forces are eligible
- Deadline for applications is 3/15
- Award amount varies depending on scholarship, anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000
- Children or grandchildren of current or former members of the sea services are eligible
- Deadline for applications is 3/1
On top of GI benefits are a ton of financial aid opportunities that are solely for Veterans. Combining GI benefits with financial aid is a great way to earn a degree while eliminating financial stress, so that you can focus on your studies and increasing your worth in the job market.
Special thanks to Sarah Haworth, CollegeStat brand manager, for sharing this information with Still Serving Veterans and its clients.