What do you know about financial aid?
First and foremost, having military education benefits (GI Bill, Post 9/11) doesn’t make you ineligible for other Federal, State and local financial aid benefits to help pay for college. However, you may be thinking what specific benefits might I be talking about, and how could you go about applying for them. Let’s take a look at your options.
FAFSA – (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
Filling out a FAFSA form will set you up with possibly receiving federal financial aid. This aid can come in the form of grants, work-study programs, and awards. This money can help pay for supplies, room and board, and of course, tuition. Overlooking this form can cost you (Free) money which you can collect while collecting your military education benefits. To apply for a Federal grant, loan, work-study or an award, simply fill out FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Federal & State Grants
Unlike a loan, a grant does not have to be repaid. Same goes for an award, and both can be granted by the Federal or State government. For example, the Pell Grant which you can apply for through FAFSA, is granted by the Federal government to eligible undergraduate students. As for the N.Y. State Veterans Tuition Award for example, is a State award granted to New York State combat veterans or veterans who earned an Expeditionary Medal. Be sure to check with your State Grant Agency at http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/org_list.cfm?category_cd=SGT to learn more about what education grants and awards your state may offer.
Scholarships can be granted by just about any organization. The school you will be attending, a business or a non-Profit organization all can offer scholarships to students. However, scholarships do have eligibility requirements and also deadlines for applying, so be sure to take that into consideration. Start your search for scholarships by simply searching the internet and asking your school.
Work-study program is simply how it sounds; you will be working while studying for a degree. However, the work you do whether on or off campus, will be paid by the Federal government, thus helping you put the money towards 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. Though in the civilian world, you will learn to ask questions first, otherwise you could be missing out on information about numerous benefits that can help you in many ways.
Remember, it never hurts to apply for any one of these financial aid benefits, even if you think you may not be eligible. 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 and/or Medical discharge. Military children can also be eligible as well for these benefits, and if you’re an older veteran, you too can apply since there are no age restrictions.
Being an employment counselor, I have seen my share of veterans of all eras go back to school, whether that is for a degree or simply to pick up a new trade. Depending on what college and program you choose, you could find out that your military education benefits won’t fully cover your tuition. Though with the help from the Federal, State, and the private sector, you may find your tuition will be covered thanks to financial aid that you may have otherwise overlooked, simply because you didn’t believe you would be eligible.