Veterans have many educational opportunities available to them. These programs exist to prepare veterans for the civilian workforce and to make the switch from military to civilian life smoother for vets and their families. We spoke with Ed Lizotte, a retired army lieutenant colonel and current director of military programs and veterans affairs at Post University, to pick his brain on the many educational benefits available to veterans.
Many veterans serve in the military prior to completing their college education, and these veterans gain valuable skills during their service. Lizotte cautions, though, that these veterans may not have made themselves marketable in the civilian workforce, even with their military experience. According to Lizotte, "Veterans should make education their next duty station. Going to college rounds out their military education and helps them move forward in the civilian world." Thankfully, programs exist to make the college "duty station" a realistic next step after military service.
By far, the most helpful program available to veterans is the GI Bill. The GI Bill provides direct payment to veterans enrolled in college classes so they can pay for their education. There are several GI Bill benefit programs available based on the eligibility of the veteran as determined by the VA. Generally, GI Bill benefits are not calculated as part of the federal financial aid programs available to all students. So based on the particular GI Bill program the veteran is using, the veteran may have to make use of other federal education programs to pay for their education. Lizotte coached us on the several types of GI Bill programs available:
Lizotte provided three simple suggestions for how veterans can start their college training through the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Finally, Lizotte cautioned that not all schools or educational programs are created equally. He says, "Veterans should seek out schools that have a strong military program in place. Also, look for schools that recognize military training and experience for transferrable college credits." He further suggests speaking to an admissions counselor at each school of interest to ensure they have a support system in place for the veteran.
It's also important to note that the costs associated with schools vary, but the amount of educational benefits available through the Post 9/11 GI Bill will not exceed an annual cap of $19,198.13 for private or foreign schools. Therefore, if a veteran picks a program that costs more than their GI Bill benefit will pay, he or she will have to make plans to cover the difference.
For more detailed information on military education benefits, check out Lizotte's book, Military Education Benefits for College: A Comprehensive Guide for Military Members, Veterans, and Their Dependents.
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