College can be a hefty expense for families. Scholarships, grants, and financial aid can help ease the financial burden. Often, students resort to supplementing with loans, leaving themselves with long-term debt. It’s not ideal.
Military families give up so much in service to the country. What they don’t need is the added worry of paying for their own and their family’s education. The good news is options are available to help military families save on college expenses. Here are five ways military families can save.
#1 Post 9/11 GI Bill
Anyone who serves at least 90 active days in the military (from September 10, 2001, and later) is eligible to receive funding to cover a four-year public college degree. The GI Bill also covers books, supplies, and even housing for full-time students, which can be an enormous relief for members of the military.
The GI Bill also allows service members to transfer GI Bill benefits to a spouse or children. Spouses can receive the coverage immediately, but their children must wait until they’ve served at least 10 years. You can even split up the benefits among multiple family members as long as you do so before you leave the military.
#2 Military Aid Societies
Military aid societies offer scholarships, grants, and interest-free loans to military families to use toward college. Each branch of the military has its own aid society for this purpose:
- Air Force Aid Society
- Army Emergency Relief
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
#3 529 Plan Savings
Military families can also benefit from 529 Plans, which allow families to save for college tax-free. This isn’t just a place to save for college tuition. You can also save for housing, food, books, technology needs, and any other educational expense that comes up.
#4 Yellow Ribbon Program
Another option for funding education is to use the US Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program. This program can cover costs that the GI Bill doesn’t. There are requirements for service members as well as the schools they attend, so make sure to check their website for the full list of mandates and how to go about applying for them. This program is a great way to bridge the gap between real-life college expenses and GI Bill educational coverage.
There are a variety of scholarships specific to military personnel, veterans, and their families. The US Veterans Magazine lists the many scholarships available and the requirements of each. This extensive list can be a valuable resource to help military families fund the full costs of higher education. It may take some time to wade through the available scholarships, but it could relieve the enormous burden of paying for an education.
Service members and their families have made many sacrifices to serve their country. These programs offer a way to make their lives a little easier by relieving some of the financial stress of higher education. While the GI Bill might be the one that gets the most attention, there are many programs out there just looking for worthy recipients to help out.