When you separate from the military and decide to go school, most people will remind you to apply for your GI benefits and for good reason: they will probably be the main source of funding for your education. What many veterans do not know, however, is they still qualify for federal student aid. That could amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars left unused.
To apply for federal student aid, you will need to meet this basic eligibility criteria:
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
- have a valid Social Security number;
- register (if you haven’t already) with Selective Service;
- be accepted in an eligible degree or certificate program; and
- show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by having a high school diploma or GED or completing a high school education in a home school setting approved under state law.
If you meet the basic criteria, visit the FAFSA website to apply for financial aid. You will need the following information on-hand to make the process easy:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s license number if you have one
- Alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Federal tax information
- Records of untaxed income (including veterans noneducation benefits)
By completing this process, you open yourself up to the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and more. Federal student aid can help give you peace of mind especially during the months when you are not in class for a full 30 days since GI benefits do not always cover the half-month periods when class is out of session.
If you need help navigating financial aid and veteran benefits, visit your school’s Financial Aid office or their Veterans Benefits advisors. If you are at Tidewater Community College, you can visit the Center for Military and Veterans Education.