Military members who want to attend college have several funding options available.
For qualifying service members GI Bill Benefits are available, but for those who do not qualify, loans are an option, too.
The reality is the military’s education benefits may not always cover all expenses. It isn’t uncommon for students to seek out loans to close any gaps.
What Student Loan Options are Available
The government offers the Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan to undergraduate and graduate students.
The Stafford Loan has two variations:
- Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) provides loans through a private lender: banks, credit unions or savings & loans associations. The government guarantees these loans against default.
- The Federal Direct Student Loan Program provides loans directly to students and parents directly through the government.
Stafford loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans have the interest paid by the government while you are enrolled in school and nine months after graduating. The unsubsidized option accrues interest fees over the entire course of the loan.
Military members who can document an extreme financial need may also qualify for the Perkins Loan. Under this low-interest loan program, military borrowers are eligible to have all or part of their loans canceled.
There are other loan options available if federal aid still falls short. Private loans are available through lenders such as Sallie Mae or Chase.
Military members should remember that private loans depend on credit scores and have higher interest rates than federal aid.
The Military Student Loan Repayment Program
An incentive for joining the military after gradation is the Military Student Loan Program.
The amount that could be repaid varies across the military branches:
- The Navy and Army pay up to $65,000
- The Air Force pays up to $10,000
It’s important for military members to understand the different program requirements set by each branch of military.
More information on federal student aid can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov.
Photo thanks to Michael Oh under a creative commons license from Flickr.