Additional Education Funding Resources
There are many resources available to help you fund your college education. You may be eligible for loans, grants, work-study programs or scholarships—or a combination—that can significantly reduce your tuition and other costs.
Financial aid is often awarded based on grade average or test scores. But it may be offered for a variety of factors, including:
- Specific majors
- Special interests or experience
- Students from specific states
- Minority students
It's definitely worth your trouble to research and exhaust every resource. You'll find some basic information below to assist your financial aid search.
There are a large number of scholarships available from many different sources, including private organizations. For a comprehensive guide of financial aid, including available scholarships, check out "Financial Aid for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families" (Schlacter/Weber; Reference Service Press, 2010). Often referred to as the "big white book," this reference volume is updated annually with the most current information, rules and rates.
FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID (FAFSA)
In order to evaluate financial need, the U.S. Department of Education requires everyone applying for a federal student loan or grant to complete the FAFSA. This document helps verify your financial status, to make certain you get the full award amount to which you are entitled.
You can fill out your FAFSA online or download a PDF version to fill out on paper. The online version helps eliminate delays and allows you to edit your application. You can get more information and online assistance at the FAFSA website.
FEDERAL PELL GRANTS
A Federal Pell Grant can be an excellent starting block for college funding. Unlike a loan, the need-based Pell Grant does not have to be repaid, and it can be used in conjunction with other scholarships and loans.
Generally, Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who haven't yet earned a bachelor's degree or professional degree. Exceptions may be made on occasion for students enrolled in post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs.
To be considered for a Federal Pell Grant, you'll need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The maximum amount for 2011-12 (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012) is $5,550. Awards are based on:
- Financial need
- School costs
- Whether you attend full or part time
- Whether you attend for the entire school year
Special consideration is given to eligible students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. You must be under 24 years old or enrolled in college, either full or part time, at the time of your parent's or guardian's death.
Find out more about Federal Pell Grants.
There are several types of federal student loans available. These loans charge low interest rates, but you will be required to repay the full amount of the loan plus interest fees.
The types of loans include:
- Perkins: Paid through your school, this low-interest loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students with the greatest need.
- Direct Stafford: Loans issued directly through the federal government to cover costs at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career or technical school. Stafford loans may be available to students with or without demonstrating financial need.
- Direct PLUS (for graduate and professional degree students): Allows graduate and professional degree students to receive federal loans to cover costs of their advanced degree.
- Direct PLUS (for parent borrowers): Allows parents of dependent children to help pay for the student's education costs.
- Direct Loan Consolidation: Allows the borrower to combine multiple federal loans into a single loan. With any federal student loan, you'll need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Paying Back Your Loans
With some loans, you will not be required to begin repayment until a grace period (from six to nine months) following graduation. Others will require setting up a payment that will begin while the student is still in school. Borrowers may usually take 10 to 25 years to repay the full loan amount, depending on the plan.
Learn more about student loans.
ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL AID LINKS
The links below will help you research financial aid and scholarships.
- Department of Education
- Financial aid tips
- The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid
- College Board
- Student Scholarship Search
- Adventures in Education
For additional information, contact your state education services officer (ESO).
- GoArmyEd is the Army's virtual gateway to tuition assistance. All eligible Active Duty, National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers can access GoArmyEd online anytime to manage education records, including college classes, testing, on-duty classes and Army Education Counselor support.
- Army COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line) helps Soldiers get the necessary credentials and certifications to turn Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) into civilian positions. Get information, find the right license and certification, and learn how to fill gaps between Army training and experience and civilian credentialing requirements.
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) is a national network of higher education associations and over 1,900 member colleges nationwide. Receive a specific college plan and access the SOC Army Degree (SOCAD) and SOCAD Army Career Degree programs. These programs offer credit transfers, college credit for military training and many other educational benefits. Visit the SOC website or contact your state education services officer (ESO).
- If you're not sure whether your school is accredited, use the Department of Education's online School Finder database to find accreditation information on a specific school or see a complete list of accredited schools.
Current Guard Soldiers can get information on education programs by emailing the Guard Support Center or calling 866-628-5999.