If you have given your time, youth and skills in the benefit of your country, your country wants to repay you for your service. As a nation, the United States has put great emphasis on providing educational opportunities to its veterans. If you are interested, there are plenty of ways for you to capitalize on your veteran status in pursuit of furthering your education.
The GI Bill
The GI Bill is one of the best known and most influential bills ever passed by the US Congress. The original bill was passed after WWII, as a means to help veterans of that war adjust back to civilian life. It provided mortgage guarantees for veterans, unemployment pay for those who couldn’t find civilian work, and most famously, it provided funds for helping veterans pursue a college education or further career training. The original bill has been updated several times in the last half century, but the provision to allow veterans to use time served to their country as a means to pursue a higher education remains.
If you are a veteran of either war or peace time duty, you qualify for the GI Bill. Apply directly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to receive details of your benefits. You can apply online, or request a form to complete. Most colleges will also have someone in the Registrar’s office that specializes in veteran benefits. Contact the college of your choice to find out what assistance is available.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA )
Another source for tuition assistance is through the Federal Student Aid program. The government has set up FAFSA, which quite simply stands for Free Application for Student Aid. This program is available for all potential students, but there is a special grant available for active duty veterans. If you served as part of the active duty military, you can apply for this grant. The amount of money available depends on one’s financial need, but caps at $500 per semester. Dependants of veterans who were 100% disabled, or killed in active duty, are also eligible to apply.
University Grants and Scholarships
If you know what college or university you want to attend, contact the Registrars office and ask about what Veteran’s benefits might be available to you. Many schools, especially state universities, will provide additional tuition breaks, grants or scholarships to eligible veterans. These benefits could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.