Decoding The G.I. Bill (and Other Student Loan Programs)
People enlist in the military for all sorts of reasons — everything from a desire to serve their country to seeing it as a worthwhile career path. But one of the biggest perks is the education benefits the military provides to those who serve. While there are a variety of student loans for military members, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill is one of the best ways to fund your education. There are actually a few different options when it comes to paying for college, and we wanted to go through a few details so that everyone can chose what works best for them.
Here are some of the questions that came to mind and the answers and resources available to you as a military member:
1. What exactly is the G.I. Bill?
The G.I. Bill was passed into law in 1944 to provide benefits, including low-interest mortgages, business loans, and money for higher education, to World War II veterans (a.k.a G.I.s). With today’s G.I. Bill, service members and veterans (in some cases, their family members!) may be eligible to have their full tuition and fees paid at a public, in-state school. Tuition and fees are capped at $17,500 per academic year for private or foreign schools, but if you’re attending one of these institutions, you may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program to offset the higher cost. There’s even a monthly housing allowance for military students and their dependents for some applicants, and an annual $1,000 allowance for books and supplies is provided to all who qualify for the G.I. Bill.
2. What if I had student loans before I joined the military?
For those of you who had student loans prior to your enlistment, you may be eligible for a military loan repayment programs (LRP), but they vary among branches. Make sure to research each one to know the exact qualifications you’ll need to meet (ie. having your loan be in good standing).
3. What other student loan forgiveness or repayment programs are out there?
In addition to the G.I. Bill and loan repayment program, active duty military members may also receive up to $4,500 for tuition and fees through the tuition assistance program. You can also enroll in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program, which allows military members to make contributions from their military pay that can be used for higher education, apprenticeships, job training, and more. The military’s Work-Study Program is another option for full-time or 3/4-time students who want to earn extra money while enrolled in school.
Decoding your military education incentives and how to use them can be intimidating. However, taking the time to research and understand them could mean the difference between paying thousands of dollars for your college education and paying nothing!
How did you use your military education benefits? How much did you save on tuition? Tell us your stories and thoughts — we’re always happy to hear from you!