Those who have served in the military – who are current members, retired, or were honorably discharged – are entitled to a variety of benefits, some of which relate to education. Consider the cost of higher education these days, one of the greatest opportunities affordable to military members is free and discounted college attendance. College grants help veterans pay for the education they might not otherwise pursue or be able to afford.
There are private grant opportunities available that can help a vet depending on his or her circumstances. Additionally, some military associates support grants, and some universities offer benefits to veterans related to tuition expenses.
If you’re considering furthering your education,but you aren’t sure you can afford the expenses of taking college classes, there’s a good chance there is money available. The key is to research your options and find grant opportunities that are suitable to your service experience and your education goals.
What Federal Funding is Available for College for Veterans?
The most popular program used to help veterans pay for college is the GI Bill.
The GI bill, also known as the Montgomery GI Bill, was one of the original grants provided to military members and is supported by the federal government. The goal is to help vets returning home get the education they need to build a career and support themselves and their families. Many believe the GI Bill played a role in establishing America’s middle class over the last 75 years or so.
How Does the GI Bill Work?
GI Bill benefits can be used by service members who agree $100 per month held backfrom their paychecks. There are also additional benefits available for those who agree to have more money held. The funding provided by the GI grant program varies depending on a service member’s specific circumstances, including the time served and what he or she did during his or her time in the military. In most cases, those who have chosen to participate in the GI Bill program receive three years of benefits they can put toward higher education.
Who Can Use the GI Bill?
Benefits from the GI Bill are available for active, retired, and honorably discharged military members of all branches of service, including National Guard members and reservists, as long as they chose to participate in the program. However, National Guard and reservists receive less money in benefits.
Does the GI Bill Have to Be Used for Tuition?
No, but it must be used to support a service members education. GI Bill benefits can be used for housing, books, fees, and tuition, as long as it’s related to paying for the cost of education at a college, university, or vocational school.
What is the Post 9/11 GI Bill?
Updates to the GI Bill were passed in 2009 under the Post 9/11 GI Bill to provide benefits to those who joined the service within 90 days following the terrorist attacks of 2001.
These service members receive money for tuition that can include the cost of housing, books,and fees provided they have enrolled in a public/state school, university, or college. Those attending a private college or universitycan see if they are eligible for any additional benefits through the Yellow Ribbon Project.
Does the Federal Government Provide Tuition Support in Addition to the GI Bill?
Yes, several scholarship programs are backed by the federal government, including the AMVET National Scholarship Program, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship, the American Legion Scholarship, and the Troops to Teachers Program.
Are there Colleges that offer Grants to Veterans?
In addition to the GI Bill and federally backed programs for tuition, some colleges offer benefits to service members that go above and beyond the federal benefits. Many colleges have even established offices or departments of veterans’ affairs that assist vets with all of their needs while applying and attending college.
Support and tuition programs vary from school to school, but some of the schools most recognized for their support of veterans include
- Michigan State University
- Grantham University
- DeAnza College
- University of Maryland
- Marquette University
Are Financial Benefits Available for All Branches of the Military?
Yes, but they vary a bit. The GI Bill is the same across all branches as long as you are a full-time member and meet the other requirements. In addition to the GI Bill, each branch of service offers a few individual benefits.
- The Air Force Tuition Assistance Program provides financial aid for active duty members who intend to complete college during the time they are enlisted. Funds can be used at off-base schools or on base. Members can be eligible for benefits that range from partial to full tuition, based on the time they’ve served.
- The Navy College Fund gives funding to enlisted members in addition to the GI Bill. The goal is to help active and retired members of the Navy earn a college degree. To qualify, you must be in honorable standing in the Navy and meet the general requirements.
- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society gives active members access to several grants, as well as some low-interest college loan programs. Funding might also be available to spouses and dependents of service members. Aid varies based on the applicant’s financial need and his or her time served.
- The US Army’s Survivors and Dependents Assistance Program offers financial support for college to widowed spouses and dependent children killed or disabled in active duty. Recipients can receive up to 45 months of education to pursue a degree or certification from college or a technical school.
What is ROTC? Do Members Receive Education Benefits?
The Reserve Officers Training Corps, usually called the ROTC, also offers a variety of support and guidance concerning grants and scholarships. The majority of American high schools and colleges have an ROTC office on campus for students or visitors who have questions.
Find out more about ROTC programs here.
All of the branches of the military have an ROTC program, and each requires members to enroll in military science courses and enroll for a pre-determined period of time in the given branch of the service. ROTC members receive financial aid for tuition, housing, and books.