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Financial Aid for Veterans – Navigating the Money Maze

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It has been a long standing tradition in the military community to support a veteran’s longing for higher education. The Montgomery GI Bill that sent many a World War II veteran through school at little to no cost is still alive and well, but bears only a slight resemblance to its former self.

These days, with a plethora of federal, state and institutional funds available to veterans through the FAFSA and other applications, veterans can get the sense that money abounds for their college costs. And while this may be true for veterans more than any other group of students, it can also be misleading. The Veteran’s Administration manages several different educational benefits programs. They include the well known Montgomery GI Bill, or Chapter 30 program. The REAP program was enacted in 2005 to support reservists who have been called to active duty in their pursuit of higher education. The 1606 program mirrors the Chapter 30 program but is specifically for selective reservists. There are also a couple of educational benefits for disabled veterans and their dependents; Chapter 31 and 35, respectively. Whatever program a veteran opts to use and is eligible for must be coordinated with the college’s veteran’s office and the office of financial aid. Veteran’s benefits are considered a resource and will be used to meet your cost of attendance in the awarding and packaging process. It is likely that if you have other need based aid, it will be reduced or canceled once your VA benefits are awarded. The only exception to this is if you are Pell Grant eligible. Pell students are entitled to their scheduled Pell grant irrespective of VA benefits. The best way to avoid an unexpected change in your award package is to make a timely and full disclosure of your expected VA benefits to your financial aid office. A counselor who specializes in veteran’s awarding will be invaluable to you as a resource. Find this person or people at your institution and become comfortable asking questions of them. For details on how your VA benefits will affect your award, visit your Financial Aid office. For information on your VA benefits and the difference between programs,
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