Scholarships and loan repayment assistance are available from a number of sources.
Both the federal government and nonprofit organizations offer money for college to veterans, future military personnel, active duty personnel, or those related to veterans or active duty personnel.
What financial aid does the government offer for military service or for family members of military personnel?
Below are a few sources of financial aid that you might want to consider. You also should explore todaysmilitary.com's list of educational benefits for service members.
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit rather than financial need:
Army ROTC scholarships are offered at hundreds of colleges. Application packets, information about eligibility, and the telephone number of an ROTC advisor in your area are available from College Army ROTC or 1-800-USA-ROTC (1-800-872-7682).
The Air Force ROTC college scholarship program targets students pursuing certain foreign language and technical degrees, although students entering a wide variety of majors may be accepted. Information about Air Force ROTC scholarships is available from Air Force ROTC College Scholarship Section or 1-866-4-AFROTC (1-866-423-7682).
Navy ROTC offers both two-year and four-year scholarships, with options to join the Navy, the Marines, or the Navy Nursing Corps. For information and applications, contact Naval Service Training Command or 1-800-NAV-ROTC (1-800-628-7682).
The Marine Officer NROTC Program pays your way through college at approved schools and offers an additional scholarship if you attend one of a list of approved Historically Black Colleges and Universities (known as HBCUs). Learn about the Marine Officer NROTC Program and request more information.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Education Benefits
The VA offers education benefits for veterans and for their widows and dependents on its GI Bill site.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant or Additional Federal Pell Grant Funds
If your parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you may be eligible for additional aid. To be eligible, at the time of your parent's or guardian's death, you must have been less than 24 years old or enrolled at least part-time at a college or career school. Payments will be adjusted if you are enrolled less than full-time.
- Federal Pell Grants: If you meet the requirements above and are eligible to receive a Pell Grant, you will receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of zero, which maximizes your Pell Grant eligibility and can increase your eligibility for other federal student aid programs.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants: If you meet the requirements above but are not eligible for a Pell Grant based on your EFC, you will be eligible to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The maximum amount of the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is the same as the maximum Pell Grant award. Your EFC will not be affected, and therefore neither will your eligibility for any need-based federal student aid.
Limited Interest Rates, No Accrual of Interest, and Deferment of Student Loans
To receive the benefits below, contact your loan servicer for information about the documentation you must provide to show that you qualify.
- Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, if you took out student loans prior to entering the military or being called to active duty, the interest rate on those loans will be limited to 6% during your active duty military service. This applies to both federal and private student loans (and other loans as well).
- For all Direct Loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2008, no interest will be charged for a period of no more than 60 months while you are serving on active duty or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war, other military operation, or national emergency and are serving in an area of hostilities qualifying for special pay. For Direct Consolidation Loans, this benefit applies to the portion of the consolidation loan that repaid loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2008.
- You will qualify for deferment of repayment on any of your federal loans while serving on active duty in the military, or performing qualifying National Guard duty, during a war, military operation, or national emergency. If your period of active duty service includes Oct. 1, 2007, or begins on or after that date, your deferment will be extended for an additional 180 days after the demobilization date for each period of qualifying service.
- If you are a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. armed forces (current or retired) and you are called or ordered to active duty while you are enrolled at least half- time at an eligible school or within six months of having been enrolled at least half-time, you qualify for deferment of repayment on your federal student loans during the 13 months following the end of your active duty service, or until you return to school on at least a half-time basis, whichever is earlier.
What Financial Aid do Veterans Service Organizations Offer for Military Service or For Family Members of Military Personnel?
The following major national organizations offer scholarships primarily to active duty military, veterans, and/or their families:
- American Legion
- Disabled American Veterans
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
There are many smaller veterans service organizations around the country that might offer scholarships. Check with your local organization or try a scholarship search.
How Can I Learn More About Military Service?
Contact a recruiter to learn more about service with the following military branches: