What to do when the GI bill won’t cover college
Under the post-9/11 GI bill, veterans who serve at least 36 months of active duty are eligible for coverage for up to 36 months of college or vocational training.
This is enough for nine months of education each year for four years. Benefits also include a monthly housing allowance and a $ 1,000 allowance for books and supplies. The 36 months of college or professional training do not necessarily have to be consecutive. If your service ended before January 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use your benefits. If your service ended on or after that date, your benefits do not expire.
Some vets can pay for undergraduate training with the single bill, but others need additional resources.
This is because not everyone can get an undergraduate degree in four years. The National Center for Education Statistics found that only 40% of students who receive a bachelor’s degree do so within four years. And veterans don’t always know how maximize the benefits of the IM bill, experts say.
“It’s pretty rare when I have a seasoned veteran who knows how to use his GI Bill to its fullest. There are always questions and concerns, ”says David Boyle, director of the veterans program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
When the GI Bill might not cover your costs
Here are a few situations in which you would likely need to complete the GI bill:
Attend a private college
The GI Bill benefits after 9/11 cover the full cost of tuition in the state at public colleges, but only up to $ 25,162 per year at a private college.
What to do: use the IM Invoice Comparison Tool to see how far your benefits will go at different schools before choosing one. If your college is eligible and you have earned 100% of your IG bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program can provide additional funds.
FOR LESS THAN 36 MONTHS
Those serving less than 36 months receive a percentage of the maximum benefit. For example, if you have served at least 18 months, but less than 24 months of active service, you will be eligible for 70% of the GI bill benefits after September 11.
Procedure: find the percentage of benefits you will receive through the AV. This will help you determine how much of your tuition and housing costs will be covered and how much of the gap you will need to close.
TRANSFER COLLEGES AND LOSE CREDITS
More than a third of students transfer from colleges, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And on transfer, students lose an average of 13 credits, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If you lose credits while transferring, you might need more than 36 months in total to complete a degree.
Procedure: Use a credit transfer tool, available at most colleges, before making the change. This will show you how many courses you have already taken could be accepted at a new school.
Transfer of benefits to a spouse or child
If you transferred benefits to your spouse or dependent children while you were on active duty, you will only be able to use GI Bill benefits by revoking the transfer.
Procedure: Use the Transfer of Education Benefits website to revoke a transfer. If you do not revoke the transfer, pay for college using grants and scholarships, work-study study and student loans.
need extra time
If your intended field of career requires more than 36 months of study or a graduate degree, the GI Bill benefits will not cover all of your costs.
What to do: Calculate college costs for your diploma or graduate degree in different types of schools. Public colleges will have the cheapest tuition fees, but a private college that gives you more financial aid might be better value.
Procedure: To continue your studies and use the remaining benefits of the GI bill, you will need to make a transfer.
Close coverage gaps
First, make sure your school has submitted your AV enrollment status so that you can enjoy all of your benefits. Then, if you have any coverage gaps, complete the free application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.
The federal government, states and colleges use the FAFSA to provide scholarships, scholarships, internships and student loans. Your GI benefits will not affect your expected family contribution, so that you can still receive some help, like the Federal Pell Grant. State and school-level veterans specific scholarships and grant programs may require additional applications.
Experts advise veteran students to explore any potential programs and services created to help them pay for their college education. When Jude Prather, a veteran services officer for Hays County, Texas, left the military in 2005, he was unaware of the Hazlewood Exemption Act, which grants eligible veterans up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including fees, at Texas public colleges. Instead, Prather paid the tuition fees for his first semester out of his own pocket.
“This is the case with a lot of veterans: in their rush to leave the service, they may miss out on opportunities or benefits that are available to them that they are just not aware of,” says Prather.
Several states – including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin – offer tuition exemption or veteran benefit programs. Ask your state’s VA for details.
Consider a student loan if the GI Bill, grants, and scholarships don’t cover all of your college costs. Maximize federal loans before choosing a private lender, as private loans tend to carry higher interest rates than federal loans. Private loans also have fewer protections and forgiveness options. However, depending on your credit – or the credit of your co-signer – you may receive a lower rate on a private loan than on a federal loan. Compare private loan options before making a decision.
Whatever the scenario, Boyle recommends speaking with a VA advisor about your education options and the best way to maximize your GI Bill benefits.