There are many benefits to joining the military; however, one major military benefit are the education benefits that come along with serving.
Most veterans education benefits are treated as resources, not income, for Federal student aid purposes. This means veterans should not report their veterans education benefits as income on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA
). The FAFSA includes separate questions that ask about the monthly benefit and the number of months of benefits expected during the school year (July 1 to June 30). However, there are a few exceptions.
The Higher Education Act (HEA) defines veterans education benefits to include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following veterans benefits
• Montgomery GI Bill
• Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEAP)
• VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program
• VEAP Benefits
• Post-9/11 GI Bill
The HEA specifies that these benefits are not reported on the FAFSA
. These benefits are generally considered to be resources. All other veterans benefits, such as income earned from the Veterans Affairs Student Work-Study Allowance Program (VASWSAP) and veterans noneducation benefits (e.g., Disability, Death Pension, or Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIS)) should be reported on the FAFSA as untaxed income.
Note that although veterans education benefits are not reported on the FAFSA, there is a special question on the form that asks about them. This question asks for the number of months of veterans education benefits and the amount per month.
A common error is to report the annual amount of benefits, as opposed to the monthly amount. If the monthly amount varies, calculate the monthly figure by dividing the annual figure by the number of months of benefits. The answer to this question does not affect the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
It is important to understand whether a benefit is treated as a resource or as income. Resources reduce need-based financial aid dollar for dollar. So if you include a resource as income on the FAFSA, you will be penalized twice: once by having it increase your EFC and once by having the resource reduce your Federal student aid eligibility.
Overawards with Veterans Education Benefits
Much of the discussion of veterans education benefits
occurs in the sections that deal with overawards. An overaward arises when the total of a student's financial aid and resources exceeds his or her demonstrated financial need.
When an overaward happens, the school is required to reduce the financial aid
package to compensate. This is basically a fancy way of saying that every dollar that is classified as a resource reduces the student's need-based financial aid by a dollar.
Other Veterans Education Benefits
A Guardsman, Reservist or Veteran and that is not eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill may be eligible for veterans education benefits
under a different program, like the National Call to Service Program.
The National Call to Service Program allows veterans to choose an education benefit as an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill. To qualify for this education benefit, veterans must have:
• Completed initial entry training and then served on active duty for an additional 15 months.
• Then, without a break in service, must have completed an additional 24 months of active duty in the Selected Reserve.
The following are veterans education benefits under the National Call to Service Program:
• A cash bonus of $5,000.
• Repayment of a qualifying student loan not more than $18,000.
• Education assistance equal to the three-year monthly MGIB rate for 12 months.
• Educational assistance equal to 50% of the less-than-3-year monthly MGIB rate for 36 months.
How to Apply for Veterans Education Benefits
Veterans hoping to utilize their education benefits can apply online here
. From the start, veterans have 60 days to complete their application. To apply, veterans need the following:
• Social Security Number (required)
• Basic information about the intended school or training program
• Bank account direct deposit information
• Education history
Once the form is submitted, veterans will receive an email of the confirmation. This should be kept in the event that proof the application has been filed is ever needed.
Claims are typically processed within 30 days; however, there are times when more information is needed. If that is the base, the VA will get in touch with the veteran for the required information.
Finally, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) will be mailed directly to the veteran. In the event that the application was denied, a notification will also be sent via mail.