We have looked at the two most popular GI Bills, how the type of school and venue affect payments, and how to best use those GI Bills to maximize benefits, including the Yellow Ribbon feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
In this part, we dig into some of the unique scholarships and grants available to veterans and how they can affect using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Keep in mind financial aid that must be applied toward tuition may reduce the amount the VA pays toward tuition.
This is because the VA is the last payer, meaning all financial aid fenced for tuition must be first applied before the VA pays its share. To some, this is an issue; to others it is not. However, if it is not fenced money, it can be used for anything and does not affect how much the VA pays toward tuition.
Scholarships for Veterans
Most scholarships are merit-based and awarded based on how well you do in school. Listed below are six that are targeted to just veterans:
- Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans Scholarship
- AMVETS National Service Foundation
- Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship
- Pro Vets Memorial Scholarships
- SGM Douglas R. Drum Memorial Scholarship
- Donaldson D. Frizzell Scholarship
Grants for Veterans
Unlike scholarships, most grants are need-based. You must show financial need to get the award. However, the good news is that in many cases, education money from the GI Bill does not reduce the need, so it doesn’t reduce the chances of getting one (or more) grants.
The Pell Grant is the most popular of all the grants. While not limited to just veterans, this grant is great if still an undergraduate. The Pell Grant is offered by the school itself and because it is need-based, the amount awarded can vary. However, the maximum amount for the 2017/2018 academic year is $5,920. As it is part of the Federal Student Aid program, application for one is done via a FAFSA submission.
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Even with GI Bill benefits, veterans should still consider submitting a FAFSA, because they may qualify for additional financial aid from a school in addition to their veteran education benefits. The process starts by filling out the FAFSA application. The results returned show what financial aid a student is authorized to receive based on the information in the application.
While the GI Bill is great by itself, sometimes it is not enough. When that happens, veterans can turn to scholarships, grants, work study and other forms of financial aid to help fill the gap.