What do you know about financial aid?
Having military education benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn’t make you ineligible for other federal, state and local financial aid to help pay for college. Let’s take a look at your options.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Filling out a FAFSA will set you up to possibly receive federal financial aid. This aid, which can come in the form of grants, work-study programs and awards, can help pay for supplies, room and board, and, of course, tuition. Overlooking this form can cost you money that you can collect while also using your military education benefits.
To apply, fill out a FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Federal and state grants
Unlike a loan, a grant does not have to be repaid. The same goes for an award, and both can be granted by the federal or state government. For example, the Pell Grant, for which you can apply through FAFSA, is granted by the federal government to eligible undergraduate students. And, for example, the New York State Veterans Tuition Award is a state award granted to New York combat veterans or veterans who earned an Expeditionary Medal. Be sure to check with your State Grant Agency to learn more about what education grants and awards your state may offer. Visit wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD and click on “Organizations by Type,” then “State Grant Agency” to find a list of contact information.
Scholarships can be granted by just about any organization. However, they have eligibility requirements and deadlines for applying, so take that into consideration. Start by searching the Internet and asking your school.
A work-study program is what it sounds like; you’ll be working while studying for a degree. However, the work you do, whether on or off campus, will be paid for by the federal government, helping you put the money toward tuition. Check with your financial aid office on campus to inquire about work-study opportunities.
In the military, you were taught to complete a task and ask questions later. In the civilian world, you will learn to ask questions first — otherwise, you could be missing out on information about benefits that can help you.
Not only can a veteran with an honorable discharge be eligible for these types of financial aid, but so can a veteran with a general or medical discharge. Military children also can be eligible.
As an employment counselor, I have seen veterans of all eras go back to school. Depending on what college and program you choose, you could find out that your military education benefits won’t fully cover your tuition. But with help from the government and private sector, you may find your tuition will be covered thanks to financial aid that you may have overlooked because you didn’t believe you were eligible.
Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress. Send questions and comments to email@example.com.