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Grants and Scholarships For Veterans

You've served your country, now it's time to see what Uncle Sam can do for you. Well when it comes to getting your college degree, he can do a lot. There are millions of tax-free dollars available to veterans and their dependents, consider it a thank you for your service. The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and many states offer programs to help vets pay for college. There are also millions of dollars available in scholarships and grants for members of the military.

The best known military education program is the Montgomery GI bill, or MGIB. The bill became law in 1944 under President Roosevelt. Since World War II the bill allowed more than two million veterans to attend college. The GI bill provides monthly benefits for active duty service members, reservists and veterans. To qualify you must have served at least two years on active duty and have your high school diploma or the equivalent. The GI bill pays for 36 months of education benefits, an estimated $40,000 value.

The GI Bill is not considered financial aid by colleges and universities, because the money is paid directly to you. That means veterans are still eligible for student loans, scholarships, and Pell Grants. However, GI Bill payments reduce the amount of student financial aid you are eligible to receive. GI money can be used not only for tuition,but also, fees, books and living expenses. The tax-free money can also be used to pay for independent study programs, required continuing education, licensing, certification, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. Once you leave the armed services, you have ten years to use your benefits.

In 2009 congress updated the Montgomery GI Bill. The new Post 9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. Tee new bill pays 100% tuition as well as a monthly housing allowance and up to $1000 a year for books and supplies. The Post 9/11 GI Bill cannot be applied to courses completed before July 2009.

Armed Forces Tuition Assistance, TA, is a benefit for eligible members of all the armed services. Each division can pay up to 100% of tuition expenses of its members. TA is not a loan, it's like money a veteran has earned. Each arm of the military has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process. Unlike money from the GI Bill, tuition assistance is paid directly to the school.

In addition to federal and state aid, there are over $300 million in private scholarships and grants for members of the military, veterans and their families. To name a few categories, there are scholarships for disabled veterans, veterans of foreign wars, veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom. Even if your tuition is fully covered by the GI Bill, it's a good idea to pursue private scholarships. The money can be used to cover the cost of books, fees, and living expenses.

Don't forget your years in the service gave you valuable experience and training. Much of that can be used for college credit. The American Council on Education, ACE, can help you and your school figure out how many college credit hours you've completed even before you arrive on campus.

There are millions of dollars available for veterans and their families to use for higher education. The U-S government provides non-taxable money and college loans through the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance. But there are also private scholarships and grants for college. Through these programs you can exchange your years of service for a fully paid college education. Take advantage of them, you've earned it.

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