Just like any future college student, the kids and spouses of active-duty service members have to overcome a number of obstacles to pursue their educational dreams.
Several misconceptions exist surrounding military dependents’ access to government funding for college. One, for example, is the belief that all military dependents have access to GI Bill benefits. While the service member may have access to a GI Bill benefit, the total value of that benefit does not automatically extend to the family. Even when benefits can be transferred, one GI Bill cannot cover the higher education costs for a whole family. Additionally, military dependents face in-state tuition eligibility challenges in most states, often made more difficult by having to move frequently throughout their lives.
Using my nearly fifteen years of experience as executive director of Corvias Foundation, during which I have reviewed hundreds of applications for our annual scholarship programs dedicated solely to the military-dependent community, I can share four tips to help you stand out in the sea of applicants. The good news is that there is still time to apply for a number of scholarship programs.
Tip #1: Look everywhere for scholarships
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Resources, such as Fastweb.com
and Scholarships.com, do provide long lists of available scholarships, but it is still important to do your own research. There are many organizations, large and small, that offer scholarships for military dependents that may not be listed on popular program lists.
Tip #2: Don’t let your parents fill out your scholarship application
When applying for scholarships, make sure to fill out the application yourself and include your own voice and perspective. Large scholarships often engage a number of reviewers who can decipher whether the application was not written by the applying student. While an application written by a parent may make it through the first round, it will become evident in an interview or next step that you did not write it yourself.
Tip #3: Share your experience as a military family member
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Your experience as a military dependent is unique among many of your fellow applicants, regardless of whether you apply for a military-community scholarship. You should feel empowered and encouraged to share your story and how your experiences have made you who you are today. These stories of resilience differentiate yourself from other scholarship and college applicants.
Tip #4: Maximize your funding
It is ok to reject the first offer of financial aid from your first-choice school and to ask for more institutional aid. Remember, higher education is expensive, and private scholarships rarely cover the majority of tuition.
Applying for these programs may seem daunting, but, as a military dependent, you are, in many respects, ahead of the game and more prepared for the transition to college. Because of the challenges you have already overcome and your family’s commitment to service, you can offer a resilient character that sets you apart. Embrace your strength and pursue the support you deserve. Following these tips will increase your chance of obtaining a scholarship and help you on the path towards transforming your future.
Looking for more military-related information? Contact a recruiter to learn more about the educational benefits offered by the military or visit Military.com.