3 Things You May Not Know About Financial Aid For Veterans

3 Things You May Not Know About Financial Aid For Veterans

I recently separated from the Navy after 10 years of active duty service. Shortly after separation, I decided to go back to college. I knew that I had Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that I could use, but there were a few things I didn’t know.

You still qualify for federal student aid.

Even if you are receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can still receive federal student aid as well. I was unaware of this when I started my graduate degree. If you would like to apply for federal student aid, then you will have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can save yourself some time by making sure you gather all the documents needed to apply.

You may be eligible for a Monthly Housing Allowance.

Remember the Basic Allowance for Housing you used to get while you were active duty? You can get a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) while attending college classes when you use your Post 9/11 GI Bill! Even if you are taking online courses, you can still receive up to $684 a month in MHA. The Post 9/11 GI Bill also covers tuition and fees, and even provides an annual stipend of up to $1000 for books and supplies.

Applying for benefits is easier than I thought it would be.

I won’t say that the application is a short one, but Department of Veterans Affairs has a tool called the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP) that you can use to apply for your education benefits and many other veteran benefits as well. Also, by using this tool, your application is sent directly to the VA office with jurisdiction over your application, and processing will begin as soon as possible. Keep in mind that the VONAPP is specifically for aid from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In order to qualify for Pell Grants, Stafford Loans and other forms of federal student aid, you still need to fill out the FAFSA.

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be a bit difficult. However, with the help of Federal Student Aid and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, paying for my college didn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be for you either. You have devoted years of your life to serving your country; now you can take advantage of a few of the benefits that you have earned. Your military service is appreciated. Happy Veterans Day.

Dominique Ramirez is a New Media Analyst at Federal Student Aid and a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve

7 Comments

  1. I have heard so many students who have served in the military have issues with getting benefits to attend local community colleges and if they can, they have to find a acceptable program to enroll in. Our service men and women put their lives on the line for us and should have the right to attend school.

  2. The Post 9/11 GiBill is really a great program and well deserved by those who served. This program allows veterans to cover all of their educational expenses without borrowing. Unfortuntately this is not always the case in practice, as some veterans take student loans anyway to boost their income or even make large purchases (all of the loans are pocketed since tuition, fees, books and a living allowance are already paid by the GiBill). Is allowing someone with this federal benefit (Gibill) to also borrow the federal student loan maximum really a wise use of federal dollars?

    Providing easy loan dollars which can be later discharged under public service forgiveness or income based repayment is really going to far. It is time for the FSA rules to include VA benefits in the calculation of aid received.

    • I am a veteran attending college, using the GI Bill to pay for it, and receiving the monthly housing allowance. I would be unable to attend college if not for the additional student loans I receive. I get a measly $1257 a month for housing, and that barely covers rent and electric. I get nothing for the times when school is not in session, yet my bills do not stop. If you prevent me from getting a student loan, how would I pay for food, gas, car insurance, books (not completely covered under the GI Bill), and any incidental expenses that may come up? How about you let the veterans make the decision for themselves whether they should take out loans, and not try to limit what we can do?

      • Living expenses are fine. It just needs to be reasonable and fair. A non veteran gets a budget each semester called “cost of attendance”, consisting of direct (tuition books and fees) and indirect (room and board, transportation etc., i.e. “living expenses”). This student’s funding cannot exceed this amount while someone on the GiBill can receive over double this amount because VA benefits are not counted as “aid”, even though direct costs are being paid for, which means all financial aid received is pocketed. This would not be a problem if the amount were
        only for indirect costs, but here direct costs are pocketed as well. A full time grad student can pocket $16000 a semester for example or $64000 over a four semester program. This is a nice down payment for a house.

  3. After having the school lined up for an associate degree in Aeronautical science and the VRAP program as an added benefit. Now the school can not confirm enrollment to a minimum of 12 credit hours for each of the four semesters. It puts me in a bind having to start a new search for a different 2 year college that will satisfy the requirements under the VRAP program. Looking to find a 2 yr. college approved for VA and VRAP.

  4. The other thing a Veteran going back to college should do is find out if the school has a dedicated Veteran Coordinator. If they do, contact that person as soon as possible. Here at Niagara University I breif any Veteran or their dependent on their benefits and help them accomplishes the VONAP in my office. If the school you are applying to does not have a dedicated Veteran Service person, consider going to another school.

  5. I was told that Illinois will not be funding the Veterans Grant next year. They said that because a veteran uses that grant that money from VA is not accessible. Then when the Illinois grant is not funded but still in place, the veteran is still not eligible for VA money. I know it doesn’t make sense but I haven’t had a call back from the agencies yet. They were not clear on this issue. Does anyone have an answer for Vets in Illinois?

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