In short, yes, you can use your GI Bill benefits and file FAFSA® to get federal financial aid to help pay your tuition and higher education costs.
In fact, we highly suggested that all potential students file FAFSA®. This includes current military members and veterans. In addition to your GI bill benefits, the FAFSA® offers additional federal student aid like Pell Grants, scholarships, and student loans.
Is the GI Bill Considered Financial Aid?
The GI Bill is not considered federal financial aid, even though you may get education-related benefits as part of the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill, and programs like the Yellow Ribbon program.
Depending on tuition cost, you might end up with little to no additional financial student aid needs after your military benefits have been received by the school. If you find yourself in need of additional student aid, you can begin applying for grants, scholarships, and student loans on top of your GI Bill benefits.
Students are able to “double-dip” because the GI Bill does not fall under the category of federal financial aid. It’s a separate benefit that aims to help veterans further their education by providing additional student aid.
Explore All Your Options as an Active Service Member or Veteran
Students should work with their school’s financial aid office to determine if they are eligible for any additional tuition awards. Every school has a Veteran / Military Representative available to help you navigate this process. They can even assist in helping through the FAFSA® process, read through your student aid award letter, and understand what grants, benefits, and scholarships you’re receiving.
Depending on what students qualify for, this can help cover any gaps in costs whether it’s tuition, housing, books, etc., that the GI Bill might fall short on coverage.
Understanding the GI Bill Basics
The VA is a great resource and starting point for you to get familiar with your benefits. They have an education and training section on their website for you to review at your convenience. Below are some key highlights of different benefits that are eligible to student veterans:
- Monthly housing allowance
- Tuition and fee covers up to 100%
- Financial aid of up to $1,000 per year specifically for books and supplies
This is a huge benefit for veterans and military members. Those who are no longer in service can use their benefits up to 10–15 years after leaving service. Learn about all the benefits of the GI Bill here. The benefit of the GI Bill is that it can be stopped and started as you need.
One thing to keep in mind is that the GI Bill can be transferred to eligible family members. This is a huge benefit for parents who are trying to send their children to school. If you need additional federal student aid for your child, it’s worth looking into the benefit to see how you can transfer it to your student.
Learn about all the benefits of the GI Bill here.
Understanding FAFSA® Basics
FAFSA® is another big topic, however, once you know the basics, it’s not too difficult to understand.
The money that you are awarded through FAFSA® may come in the form of grants (like the Pell Grant) or scholarships, as well as subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The exact types of awards you get depend on both need-based and non-need-based aspects of your application. For instance, the Pell Grant is a need-based grant determined by your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). You can read more about the Pell Grant here.
Some of the money awarded through FAFSA® may include:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
- State Education grants
- Federal Supplementary Education Opportunity Grant
- Subsidized Stafford Loan
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
Filing FAFSA® is free and the application walks you through everything you need. When you’re filling out the FAFSA®, make sure to have all your financial documents with you to ensure that you have all the information needed to secure your aid.
With these two amazing benefits in your corner, you have the opportunity to get the financial aid you need for your education.