Veterans hear about the many education benefits available to assist them in pursuing a higher education. Benefits such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be difficult to navigate, however, and other lesser-known benefits frequently go unnoticed. If you are a veteran looking to get the most out of the educational benefits available, consider pursuing one or more of the following lesser-known opportunities.
A growing number of colleges are offering tuition discounts for veterans as well as active duty service members. Unlike many of the federal education benefits, tuition discounts for veterans are simple to cash in on. Additionally, these discounts can make up for many of the out-of-pocket costs that are not covered by benefits such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Yellow Ribbon Program. Be sure to find a veteran-friendly institution that offers these kinds of benefits.
IT Certification Program
One of the greatest challenges facing veterans in education and the workforce is a lack of recognition for the education and training they already received in service. In an effort to address this problem, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced the IT Training and Certification Partnership Program. According to InformationWeek, companies such as Cisco, HP, and Microsoft are participating in this initiative and offering information technology (IT) certification programs for veterans. These programs analyze the experience veterans had in service and determine what training, if any, is still needed. It is estimated that this initiative will assist as many as 161,000 veterans in getting the certification they need to land high-paying jobs in IT.
GI Bill Transfer
Most veterans are aware of the benefits offered under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but fewer are familiar with the provision of this bill that allows for the transfer of benefits between veterans and their spouses and dependents. You are eligible to transfer part or all of your benefits if you meet one of the following criteria;
- You have at least six years of service and agree to serve an additional four.
- You have at least 10 years of service and are precluded from completing four more.
- You were eligible for retirement during the period dated August 1, 2009 to August 1, 2013.
To be fully eligible, spouses and dependents of veterans must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DDERS) at the time of transfer.
Scholarships are often an untapped resource when it comes to educational assistance for veterans and their families. Military.com reports that veterans miss out on over $300 million worth of grants and scholarships due to a lack of awareness that these opportunities exist. Many veterans also fail to apply for these scholarships because they believe their military benefits will cover all tuitions costs. While military benefits are certainly helpful, many veterans end up with additional costs that are not covered by the GI Bill. To get started in your search for these scholarships, reach out to a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) in your area, and search online for the scholarships that best describe you. Do not limit yourself when it comes to applying for these scholarships and apply for as many as possible. Keep in mind that you may also qualify for several non-veteran related grant and scholarship opportunities.
In-State Tuition for Veterans
The GI Bill only covers the entire cost of tuition for public, in-state institutions, which can leave veterans who attend out of state colleges scrambling to make up the difference. Fortunately, 20 states, to include Texas and New Mexico, have now passed legislation that provides veterans with an in-state residency waiver. This means that veterans from out of state can now pay in-state tuition prior to establishing residency. Choosing to attend college in a state that provides this benefit by law can dramatically reduce your out of pocket tuition expenses.
Rural Relocation Benefit
One provision of the Post 9/11 GI Bill that few veterans are aware of is the rural relocation program. This part of the bill was designed to assist veterans living in rural areas with the costs of relocating in order to attend school. This benefit is provided to veterans living in rural areas that contain fewer than seven people per square mile and may be used to cover the transportation costs of school-related relocation. Veterans who are eligible receive a one-time payment of $500. You may apply for this benefit by submitting VA Form 22-0848, Application for Rural Relocation Benefit Under the Post-9/1 GI Bill, to the VA Regional Office in your home state.
While navigating through the many veteran educational benefits can be challenging, knowing all of the options available can make the process simple and financially rewarding. Explore one or more of these lesser-known opportunities to get the most out of your educational benefits as a veteran.
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