Your parents aren’t the only ones who want you to get a college degree; Uncle Sam does too. In fact, the United States government is so committed to your education that they are willing to make a big financial investment in you! Every year students leave school because they can no longer afford the tuition. Don’t become a financial casualty: give some time to your country and get a college degree.
What is the GI Bill?
The GI Bill (various education assistance programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs) provides benefits to veterans, service members, and some dependents of disabled or deceased veterans wishing to pursue an education. All branches of the armed services are covered by the GI Bill. The GI Bill has several programs and each is administrated differently — depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status. For example, the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB) program provides up to 36 months of veteran education benefits. The Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program may be available to you if you are a member of the Selected Reserve. For more information, visit the U.S. Dept of Affairs GI Bill Website at http://www.gibill.va.gov.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
The new GI Bill (Chapter 33) is available to veterans who served after September 11, 2001. It offers full tuition and fees, a new housing stipend, and $1,000 a year for books and supplies. The new bill also gives Reserve and Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since September 11, 2001 access to the same GI Bill benefits. This new benefit does not go into effect until August 1, 2009. More information can be obtained from the website of each specific military branch.
Students who specifically seek a military career may choose to enter the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program at their college. Unlike the GI Bill, in the ROTC, you start as a student with a goal of serving in the military. Each branch of the military has its own, different ROTC program. ROTC is not offered at all colleges and universities. To learn more about ROTC and available ROTC scholarships, contact your military branch of interest or the university you plan to attend.
Federal Work-Study program
If you don’t want to wear a uniform but are still willing to give your time to your country, you can get some of your education subsidized while earning a paycheck. Managed by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Work-Study program (FWS) can help pay your way through college. Money from the federal government is given to approximately 3,400 eligible colleges and universities for this program. Students in the FWS are required to work part-time to receive this assistance from the government. You can also ask your school about America’s Reading Corp: if your school participates you may be able to earn money teaching kids to read. Information about the FWS can be obtained from the financial aid office at your college.
American Opportunity Tax Credit
President Obama is keeping true to his word—that word being “change.” Obama is hoping to enact a tax credit that will pay your first $4,000 at a public university and also pay two-thirds of your tuition in exchange for 100 hours of your time toward community service.
With several solid government plans financing college education everyone should have a better chance at a brighter future. Get on the Internet, make some phone calls, and get the ball rolling for the government to finance your degree at the college or university of your choice.
Debra Karplus, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in private practice with an accounting degree, teaches entrepreneur and investing classes to children and adults. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.