Active duty military are the men and women currently enlisted in a branch of the military who are on active duty status, which means that their branches may decide to deploy them to a new base at any minute. Even if you are on active duty status, you can still enroll in college and start working on a degree that you will finish before or after you finish your service. Students like yourself qualify for different types of financial assistance packages, and you can learn about how to apply before you enroll.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
As soon as you receive an acceptance letter from a college or university, you can fill out and submit the FAFSA. Some schools now require that you complete and submit this form before applying. While most students will use the tax information from the previous year of their parents, most military students are independent from their parents and can use their own tax information. The less money that you make, the more assistance you will receive. Both the amount of aid you get as well as the type of aid given to you will vary based on whether you used student loans in the past and your year in school.
Active duty military and more traditional students both prefer grants to loans. Unlike loans, which you will pay back in the future, grants are essentially free money that you can use to cover all your expenses. The federal government offers PELL grants of around $5,800 a year, and you may qualify for a education grant of up to $4,000 a year too. There are also grants available for those who served in countries like Afghanistan or Iraq. These grants award students around $5,800 a year.
As a military student taking online classes, you may qualify for one or more student loans too. The most common type of loan is a subsidized direct loan. You can borrow up to $5,500 while enrolled as an undergrad. With subsidized loans, the government will freeze the interest on that loan until six months after you quit school or graduate. There are also unsubsidized loans available of up to $12,500 a year, though these loans will incur interest while you are in school. If you’re in graduate school, you can borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized loans every year. The federal government also offers Perkins loans of up to $5,500 a year.
According to Federal Student Aid, The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, also called ROTC, offers scholarships for military students, but this program is only open to those who served in ROTC in high school and those who serve in college. These scholarships are available to students attending community colleges as well as traditional colleges and can help them enlist at a higher level. You’ll also want to contact the schools you hope to attend and ask about any other scholarships. In addition to those designed just for military students, you’ll also find scholarships for students majoring in specific fields as well merit scholarships.
Not everyone can afford to pay for college out of their own pockets, which is why there are so many financial aid options available to students today. You can find out which options you qualify for after filing the FAFSA. Active duty military students may qualify for scholarships, grants and loans.