Using Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits is a great way for a military dependent child to fund a college education, but what if the child is ready to go to college, but Mom or Dad do not qualify for the GI Bill benefit transfer option? Or what about the military parent retiring before the Post 9/11 GI Bill started in August 2009? Or a dependent child that lost a parent in either the Iraq or Afghanistan war? There are thousands of people in these categories.
But, all is not lost! There are many different grants and scholarships available. In this blog post, I focus on a few of the grants because they do not require repayment – loans do. Loans, even low interest ones, can create a future financial hardship once repayment begins – grants don’t create that financial hardship.
Start a Federal educational financial aid request by first filling out a Free Application to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many parents and students alike are surprised at how much financial help is available.
Pell Grants are usually awarded to students who have not yet earned an undergraduate degree. With Pell Grants being the foundation of federal financial aid, other sources of both federal and non-federal aid are added to them.
The maximum amount per selected applicant for the 2011-12 award year is $5,550. The amount you receive though will depend on your financial need, school costs and rate of pursuit.
If you had a parent die as a result of military service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 10, 2001, then you will most likely get the maximum award. To qualify for the award, you must be less than 24 years old or enrolled in college a minimum of part-time at the time of your parent’s death. Only one Pell Grant per year is authorized to awardees.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is also for undergraduates , but limited to those with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for a FSEOG between $100 and $4,000 per year.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Students who had a parent die as a result of service in military service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 could receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Other eligibility criteria include:
- Must be ineligible for a Federal Pell Grant by not meeting the financial need requirement
- Be under 24 years old, or
- Enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death.
The award is equal to the maximum Pell Grant amount, or actual school costs, whichever is less.
Many colleges provide their own grants to help offset the difference between what a family can be expected to pay and the cost of college. Other institutional grants include merit scholarships which are awarded based on academic achievement or sports ability. Some merit awards are also based on financial need, however, others are not. Ask your school about the scholarships they offer.
Due to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program. A student with a desire to teach after graduation can get up to $4,000 per year under this program to go to school. In return, they must agree to teach in a private or public school, elementary or secondary, that serves low-income families. The school must also have teacher shortages in one of the high need fields defined as:
- Bilingual Education.
- English Language.
- Foreign Language.
- Special Education.
One year of teaching is required for each yearly grant, so you can earn a four-year bachelor’s degree, if you agree to teach for four years after graduating. If you fail to complete your teaching service obligation though, your TEACH Grant converts to an unsubsidized Stafford Loan with interest dating back to the loan origination date.
Where there is a will, there is a way. These are just a few of the many education financial aid programs available to help pave your way to a college education without putting you into debt.
Photo thanks to _skynet under creative commons license on Flickr.