The GI Bill and its various programs offer many helpful opportunities for active and former servicemembers to obtain aid. They are not the only forms of funding available, however, to help young men and women looking to obtain a college degree and serve in the military. There are loans, incentive programs, and other financial assistance programs available to help cover the costs associated with tuition and fees.
If you find you may need some additional financial support to cover the costs associated with your college degree, there are private and federal financial loans available for active and former military members. One option includes direct subsidized loans, which are a great option for servicemembers in need of financial aid. There is no interest on the loan while you are in school at least half-time. Such flexibility will help you pay off the loan faster. If you qualify under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, the interest rate on loans you obtained before entering military service may be capped at a lower interest rate during the years you are serving active duty. Some loans also provide servicemembers the flexibility of temporarily deferring on a loan. This means you can temporarily stop making payments on your loan for a period of time if necessary.
National Call to Service Program
The National Call to Service Program provides financial assistance to servicemembers as an incentive. If you receive an educational assistance incentive, you are not eligible for some other forms of aid. You may also choose in what form you receive the aid. Options include a cash bonus, repayment of qualified student loans up to a maximum dollar amount, or entitlement to an allowance of funds. Individuals who obtain financial aid through the National Call to Service Program must commit to three tiers of service that takes about two years to complete, and that includes a 15-month tour of active duty.
National Testing Program
In order to enroll in college and other educational programs, you may need to take a costly standardized test. The National Testing Program provides financial aid to help veterans pay the cost of such tests as the SAT®, LSAT®, GRE®, GMAT®, and the Advanced Placement® exams, among others. Fees to take pre-tests, such as Kaplan Tests, are not covered under the National Testing Program.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides educational assistance only to members of the Reserves that are called or ordered to active duty in times of war or national emergency. Today, due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, fewer reserve members are eligible for REAP. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has in many ways replaced REAP, and in some cases provides a greater benefit. Veterans who have not enrolled in coursework but applied for REAP benefits prior to November 25, 2015, are no longer eligible for REAP. In most cases, however, they are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is available to those who choose to make payments for college coursework using military pay. The federal government will match your contributions on a 2-for-1 basis. Financial aid may be used for college degree and certificate programs, or technical/vocational courses.
With a variety of military education aid programs to choose from, servicemembers can find financial aid options to support their needs. With aid to help cover the cost of course work during or after service, young men and women are starting their post-service careers with the education and skills they need to succeed.