Qualify for Financial Assistance Today!

Qualify for Financial Assistance Today!

Education provides a solid foundation for your future, and if you’re a current or former member of the armed forces, you likely qualify for some of the best programs—and financial assistance—available anywhere for college students.

One of the ways the U.S. government says “thank you” for honorable service to our country is through a variety of programs designed to provide readiness, resources, support and money for service men and women who want to pursue higher education. The GI Bill, which has been adapted for different periods of service, is one of the best-known avenues for securing a degree and/or vocational training. There are other, complementary programs like the Yellow Ribbon Program that fill in the gaps GI Bills may leave and provide additional opportunities to shape your educational experience and career in a way that’s right for you.

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Post-9/11 GI Bill

This incarnation of the GI Bill applies to many current service members and those who’ve recently separated from the military. It’s aimed at individuals who volunteered on or after September 11, 2001 and have completed six months to three years of active duty; those who became disabled after at least 30 days of service are also covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Honorary discharge is a pre-requisite.

Military personnel who qualify for this program have access to funds that cover as much as the complete cost of tuition for 36 months of schooling, though the cost must be within in-state, public school tuition rates. Bonus: Funds can be applied to international education programs. In addition to tuition coverage, individuals may receive a maximum of $1,000 for books and other course-related materials plus a monthly allowance to help cover other costs, whether connected to education or not.

Among the unique advantages of the Post-9/11 GI Bill: Service members can transfer their eligibility to dependents or a spouse in some cases, there’s no fee to access the program and they can take as long as 15 years after separation to use their benefits.

Montgomery GI Bill

This long-standing GI Bill, adapted from the original GI Bill of Rights launched during World War II, stood as the gold standard until 2008, when the Post-9/11 GI Bill was introduced. It covers service members who entered the military—either active duty or reserves—in 1985 or after. Funds can be used for a variety of educational pursuits, including degree levels starting at associate’s, vocational courses, online classes and more.

Participants must invest in the program before reaping benefits. The lowest contribution amount service members can make is $100 a month; after a year of these payments, individuals are eligible for $1,300 a month in financial payouts for up to 36 months. It’s also an option to contribute a higher dollar amount—up to $600—in exchange for receiving an extra $5,400 toward school. There’s no difference between the benefits active duty personnel receive and assistance allocated for reserve members, though reservists must have served for at least six years with the Select Reserve.

Those who qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill must access their benefits within 10 years.

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Yellow Ribbon Program

Designed to help bridge the potential gap between the maximum tuition assistance provided under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the price tag of a service member’s college of choice, the Yellow Ribbon Program can be a lifesaver for individuals interested in private schools, out-of-state schools and the pursuit of graduate degrees—all of which cost more than what’s allowed in the original bill.

To qualify, service members have to meet the same standards as those required by the Post-9/11 GI Bill: volunteering for active on or after September 11, 2001; serving for at least 30 days of active duty service before being honorably discharged with a disabling injury; or serving three years or more of total active duty.

In order to take advantage of this program, you must be enrolled in a participating school (visit http://www.gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/YRP/YRP_List_2010.htm for a listing of specific schools). Because the school makes up the 50 percent of tuition not paid by the government, individuals are encouraged to talk to the school as early as possible to ensure money is still available for a given semester or year. A military-friendly school may also offer additional resources for service members and veterans.

As with the Post-9/11 GI Bill, one of the perks of the Yellow Ribbon Program is the ability to assign the above benefits to a dependent or spouse.

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