Decoding Armed Forces Education Benefits
The US armed forces do a lot to help their members manage educational expenses and costs. That is why they host various educational benefits which are made available for those who have served the military and those who are still active in the service. But knowing which of these benefits a service member is qualified or eligible can be quite challenging.
There a lot of military assistance programs as well as federal benefits which are quite confusing in terms of what program or benefit a member acquires or is qualified. Because there often too many, service members and their families have a hard time navigating these very benefits put in place to support and fund their education. Concerns have been raised because information about such education benefits and even a single resource for the military programs are not available.
Betsy Mayotte, regulatory compliance director for a nonprofit organization named ASA or American Student Assistance, agreed that indeed it is confusing and difficult to find the right program to acquire. To help outline the many available options, a military benefits guidebook has been recently compiled and can be viewed online by members. The eBook provide details about the following:
- Federal programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), the GI Bill or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, and the Yellow Ribbon Program
- Educational benefits provided by more than 40 different states, including the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
- Steps on how to take advantage of the available educational benefits and military assistance programs
And here is an overview of some of the programs aforementioned:
Yellow Ribbon Program – is also known as the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, a program that allows service members or veterans to enroll at private colleges and schools and attend graduate programs wherein the tuition fee. To put it simply, the program makes participating private schools and graduate programs more affordable for veterans wherein scholarship exclusively for them is being offered. To become a beneficiary of the program, a veteran must meet the following criteria:
- The veteran must have served in the military for about 36 months and that active duty of service is counted after the September 10, 2001.
- The veteran was discharged honorably from active duty for a service-related disability and must have served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001.
- The veteran must be a dependent eligible for the Transfer of Entitlement.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness – is a federal student aid program that encourages people to be a full-time worker for jobs in the public service wherein the members will be qualified for amnesty of the remaining balance due on their Direct Loan Program.
In order to determine if service members are qualified or eligible for various military assistance programs or educational benefits, the Department of Veterans Affair provides a benefits calculator. The benefits calculator is an online tool that assists service members regarding their qualifications wherein a few data are asked such as military status, whether you are a veteran, on active duty or national guard/reserves; and the length of service or active duty.