Scholarships and Financial Aid for Members of the Military
Are you currently a member of the Armed Forces? Have you served your country in the past as a member of the military? If so, there are several scholarships and opportunities for financial aid that are available to you. It takes a brave and devoted person to serve this wonderful country of ours, and as a small thanks, we’ve compiled a list of scholarships and financial aid to help you pay for this next important step in your life.
There are 4 main types of scholarships and financial aid options available to active and veteran military personnel, including educational benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Pell Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarships, and limited interest and deferred student loans through the government.
1. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits for Education
Whether you’re a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, you may qualify to benefit from the GI Bill offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In some cases, the GI Bill may be able to be deferred to your children—check with the VA to learn more and make sure you utilize this money—it’s money that’s meant to be used toward furthering your education.
2. Federal Pell Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Most students know how important it is to fill out the FAFSA each year, and this remains true for members or veterans of the military. You may qualify for additional financial aid if you had a parent or guardian die during their military service in Afghanistan or Iraq after the events that occurred on 9/11. To be eligible for this benefit, you must have been younger than 24 years old at the time of your parent or guardian’s death, or enrolled in a career school or college at least part-time.
Meeting the above qualifications makes you eligible to claim an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of zero, making you more likely to qualify for the Pell Grant and receive the maximum amount of funding. If your income is too high to qualify for the Pell Grant, you may qualify for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant which has the same maximum amount as the Pell Grant, and won’t disqualify you from other financial aid.
3. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarships
While many grants and scholarships are awarded based on financial need, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarships are awarded based on merit. This puts you at an advantage, especially if you make more than allowed to qualify for other financial help. There are four different scholarships available, each with different eligibility requirements. These scholarships include:
- Army ROTC Scholarships
- Navy ROTC Scholarships
- Air Force ROTC Scholarships
- The Marine Officer NROTC Program
4. Limited Interest and Deferred Student Loans
As a current or former member of the military, it’s wise to contact your loan servicer to learn what options are available to you regarding interest and student loan deferment. A few benefits you may be eligible for include a limit in the amount of interest that can be charged on your loan during a deployment, a no-charge deferment period during deployment, or an extension on the deferment of your loan after returning home from serving your country.