Surprising ways to get college paid for if you join the military

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One of the best benefits that military vets receive from the government is additional aid opportunities for their education. 

There are a lot of options for financial help if you’ve served in any branch of the military. From tuition assistance to the GI bill, many military vets can complete college without going into debt. That’s a pretty big deal considering the national student debt crisis in our country.

We thought we’d round up some information that would help you navigate your aid options so you can get the most money towards your education.

The GI Bill

One of the most significant resources for members of the military is the GI Bill. You can use your benefits up to 10 to 15 years after your service and stop and start the benefit as needed. 

Some of the great benefits of opting into the GI bill are:

  • You receive a monthly housing allowance
  • Tuition and fees are 100% covered
  • Additional aid of up to $1000 for books and supplies
  • You can use it alongside any FAFSA® related federal aid
  • You don’t have to pay it back

If you’re a parent that’s hoping to use your GI bill benefits for your child, that’s also an option. You can read more about how to transfer your benefits here

To get your GI benefits, you need to speak with your school’s financial aid office. Every school has a representative that works closely with veterans and military members to ensure they get help through the financial aid process. They can let you know how your benefits will work. 

Federal Aid via FAFSA®

The Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA®) is another great resource for vets. Since the GI Bill is not considered federal assistance, you can use FAFSA® in conjunction with the military assistance to get even more money towards your education (if you need it).

The FAFSA® qualifies you for grants like the Pell Grant, which can garner you $6,195 more per semester. In addition to the Pell Grant, the FAFSA® also opts you into options for work-study and scholarships provided by your school. 

The Pell Grant is sought after because you don’t have to pay it back. That means you get even more money towards your education and still don’t have a student loan at the end of the day. 

Tuition Assitance

Tuition Assistance (TA) is available to active duty military and reserve service members. Generally, it covers 100% of your tuition if you are in the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. Each branch has its own application process that must be followed to opt-in for assistance. 

This can be another beneficial tool to help you get the full cost of your education covered without taking out any student loans.

Loan Forgiveness

Depending on your length of service, it’s possible that you could be eligible for student loan forgiveness through one of the many military programs. Here are some of the programs that you’ll want to look into if you’re interested in loan forgiveness. 

It’s important to do your research and talk to a representative to make sure you meet all the qualifications for loan forgiveness and discharge ahead of applying. If you have any questions, the financial aid office at your college should be able to help direct you.

Unfortunately, you can’t use a loan forgiveness program and the GI Bill. You have to choose one or the other.

The good news is that there are plenty of programs out there for veterans or active-duty military. Many of them can help you achieve your goal of completing your education without going into debt over it. 

If you’re in any branch of the military and interested in one of these programs, reach out to your representatives and the financial aid office at your school. They could put your dream within reach!