Biden Cancels up to $20k in Student Loan Debt, for Some

The Biden Student Loan Debt Relief Plan

On August 24th, 2022, the Biden administration announced their plan to provide relief from student loan debt for eligible students. The proposal focuses on three specific challenges faced by holders of student loans.

Targeted Debt Relief

First, targeted debt relief will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation. Not every borrower will qualify for the max amount, but it is estimated that nearly 27 million will qualify for the $20,000 cap.

Pell Grant recipients with loans from the Department of Education can receive up to $10,000 in relief. The same is true for non-Pell Grant recipients, who will also receive up to $10,000.

To be eligible for that relief, borrowers must have an income of less than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples. Meaning, those whose discretionary income exceeds those amounts will not qualify for this debt relief.

As an important note, any debt relief a borrower receives will not count as taxable income. Additionally, the pause on federal student loan repayment will be extended until December 31, 2022.

Fixing the System?

Next, the Biden administration’s plan intends to revamp the student loan system for current and future borrowers.

To do this, the Department of Education proposes an income-driven repayment plan that should protect more low-income earners. The plan will cap the monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of the borrower’s income, which is half of the current rate.

The DoE also plans to protect any non-discretionary income by guaranteeing that any borrower making roughly the equivalent of $15 an hour will not have to make a monthly payment.

The administration also plans to forgive student loan balances after 10 years, instead of the traditional 20 year time frame. So, borrowers with original loan balances of $12,000 or less could be debt-free in less than a decade.

Additionally, the plan calls for covering any unpaid monthly interest as long as borrowers make their monthly payments. This will apply even when the monthly payment is $0 because they are considered low income.

Moreover, the DoE plans to solidify temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which extended debt forgiveness to those who have worked “at a nonprofit, in the military, or in federal, state, tribal, or local government”.

Under the PSLF program, more than 175,000 public servants have had more than $10 billion in student loan debt erased.

Extending the Pell Grant’s Reach

Finally, Biden’s debt forgiveness plan has called for a huge increase in the Pell Grant, seeking to double the maximum amount a student can receive in their lifetime.

The administration is still pushing to make community college free to everyone, but they’ve given no information about how they plan to make that happen. It is likely that the Pell Grant will be fundamental to that plan.

The American Rescue Plan also gave nearly $40 billion to colleges and universities, which should be used for emergency financial aid. Accountability is key here.

How to Apply for Student Loan Debt Relief

As of this writing, there is no application process set up for borrowers seeking debt relief. The Department of Education plans to have the application system operating before the pause on federal student loan repayments ends on the 31st of December, 2022.

However, it is possible that as many as 8 million borrowers will automatically receive this relief, as their income data is already available to the Department of Education.

 

 

 

The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

What to know about the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Receiving a Federal Pell Grant for your education can be an excellent way to help lower your college costs, however, not everyone qualifies for this type of financial aid. This is where the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant can come into play. This grant is a Title IV grant for dependents of service members who died in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. Here is what you need to know.

Who is eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant?

To be eligible you must not be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant on the basis of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), but you do meet the remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements.

Pell Grant Eligibility – Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.  There are some cases where a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might be able to receive a Federal Pell Grant.  You can read more about the Pell Grant at Pell Grant: Everything You Need to Know on College Recon.

In addition, to be eligible your parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.

You also will need to be under 24 years of age or be enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of your parent or guardian’s death.

How do you apply for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant?

In order to apply for this grant, you will need to submit a FAFSA form and do this for every year you are in school. Your school, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, will determine your eligibility for the grant.

How much is the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant?

The amount of the grant is equal to the amount of a max Federal Pell Grant for the award year, but it also can’t exceed the cost of attendance for the year. Meaning, that you won’t be getting extra money if your school doesn’t cost the maximum amount. For the 2022-2023 school year, the amount is $6,895.

It is important to note that due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, the 2021-2022 Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant that is first disbursed on or after October 1, 2021, and before October 1st, 2022, is reduced by 5.7%. The amount for the 2021-2022 school year is $6,495.

How do you receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant?

You would receive payment like you would with the Pell Grant. The exact date depends on your school and that varies. Some give out the money more quickly than others.

When can you no longer get the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant?

Once you earn a baccalaureate degree or your first professional degree or if you have used up all 12 semesters of your eligibility, you can no longer receive the grant.

You can read more about this grant on the Federal Student Aid website.

 

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Active Duty Degrees: Army IgnitED

Army IgnitED: Completing Your Education Mission

Since the retirement of the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) in 2019, the Army has launched a new educational initiative called Army IgnitED.

Army IgnitED

This new Army program is a resource that tailors an educational path based on the needs of each Soldier. There are paths that lead to college degrees, paths that help prepare for transition, and even paths that can help Soldiers land an ROTC scholarship.

Here is a list of some of the opportunities available to Soldiers using Army IngnitED:

  • Associate’s Degree – an undergraduate degree program averaging 60 credit hours from a community or junior college.
  • Bachelor’s Degree – an undergraduate degree program averaging 120 credit hours from a college or university.
  • Master’s Degree – a graduate degree that allows for specialization in a specific field. These degrees vary in duration based on the subject area, but most can be completed in 2 to 3 years.
  • Credentials – awarded upon the verification of qualification in a given subject or skillset. This can cover a wide array of career fields from IT to the skilled trades.
  • Academic Certificate – These can be either undergraduate or graduate level courses that are shorter in duration than degree programs. Soldiers are authorized up to 21 semester hours of TA every 5 years toward academic certificates.

 

There are also Army Special Program opportunities that allow a Soldier to focus their studies on a specific subject or skillset apart from the ones listed above.

Education Roadmaps for Soldiers

One of the best features of the Army IgnitED program is that each path is tailored to the individual. Not all Soldiers want to get degrees. Some want marketable skills to use once they leave the Army, and others want to certify the skills they’ve gained during their service. This makes Army IgnitED an important part of a Soldier’s educational pathway.

However, there are some similarities to notice about the various pathways available.

For example, a Soldier looking to use Tuition Assistance (TA) to pursue a degree or certificate program would follow these basic steps:

  1. Find the best educational program for their needs. This can be done using CollegeRecon’s School Search Tool, among others.
  2. After finding their program, Soldiers will use Army IgnitED to create their educational path.
  3. Applying for Tuition Assistance Funding
  4. Start the education program.
  5. Complete the degree.

While these are general steps, they highlight commonalities that each Soldier on the TA path will have to take.

Other Educational Pathways

Credentialing Assistance (CA) Path:

  1. Use the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) tool to explore the options available based on a Soldier’s Career Management Field (CMF).
  2. Discover credentials based on Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) or Additional Skill Identifier (ASI). 
  3. Choose the desired credential.
  4. Apply for Credentialing Assistance funding.
  5. Implement CA plan.
  6. Earn credentials.

Army ROTC Scholarship Path:

  1. Find the program you want. CollegeRecon’s School Search Tool will find all the schools offering an ROTC program.
  2. Apply for ROTC scholarship.
  3. Request scholarship funding in the Army IgnitED portal.
  4. Complete the degree program.
  5. Commission as an Army Officer.

RELATED: Army ROTC Scholarships

Decision Support Tool

If you’re having a hard time deciding which path you should take, the Army’s Decision Support Tool can help.

The DST will guide you through a series of 30 questions that will help determine which career field may interest you the most. Using the “Like” vs. “Dislike” paradigm, the DST using how you feel about a certain activity to eliminate or highlight potential career fields.

This tool can help Soldiers like me who retired and had no clue what to do next. If this sounds like you and you need help discovering your next career field or degree program, check out the DST for assistance.

Accessing Courses While On Active Duty

Another great feature of Army IgnitED is that the courses for each program are taken either Online, On-Site, or at an Education Center.

For online learning, educational institutions and vendors offer online opportunities that allow Soldiers to make progress towards their goals without having to attend classes in person.

However, there are many opportunities for Soldiers to take courses on nearby campuses or training sites. This approach has the added benefit of working with other students who share the same interests, which can greatly enhance the learning experience.

Most Army installations have a dedicated Education Center with access to local campuses for different colleges and universities. While some offerings may differ, there are always opportunities for Soldiers to advance their education plan.

There are over 2,000 institutes of higher learning and over 200 vendors who have partnered with Army IgnitED to bring education opportunities to Soldiers.

Active Duty Degrees Within Reach

As of this writing, Army IgnitED has completed over 500 Credentials. In 2020, Soldiers completed over 8,500 degree programs. That’s just fantastic!

If you’re a Soldier on active duty and you’ve ever dreamed of completing your degree, then Army IgnitED is the best educational opportunity to help you find your path.

Get the process started by heading over to Army IgnitED and creating your account.  You can visit this link to learn more and get started.

 

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Active Duty Degrees: An Overview

Degree Programs for Active Duty Military

Today’s active duty military members operate in some of the most challenging and dynamic environments in the world. When they’re not on the front lines of Freedom, their lives still have a number of demands: family, kids, hobbies, and in many cases, college degrees.

In 2020, Inside Higher Ed reported that about 6% of all undergraduate college students were either military veterans, current active military members, or in the Reserves and National Guard. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you know how many college students there were in the same year.

The Education Data Initiative estimates that there were approximately 19.7 million college students in 2020. Of those, an estimated 3.1 million were graduate students. Even so, 6% of 16.1 million (996,000) is nearly a million veteran or active military undergraduate students.

How is it that this many military students are pursuing their degree? You’re about to find out!

Active Duty Degrees

These days, there are countless programs available to assist active duty members complete their college degrees. With everything from Tuition Assistance (TA), the Forever GI Bill, and a whole host of service-specific programs, military members have the path to a quality education right at their feet.

The next few sections, we will cover the specific programs that are available to members of each branch of the military. There is even one program that applies to multiple services.

Army IgnitED

The Army IgnitED Program is a fresh approach to the GoArmyED campaign from previous years. The IgnitED program lets Soldiers have more control over their educational path. That way, Soldiers can pursue the degrees, credentials, or certifications that they want for professional development or preparation for transition.

Air Force Virtual Education Center

The Air Force has developed a Virtual Education Center which synthesizes a myriad of programs available to Air Force personnel. The flexibility of this system is just amazing, and it presents every educational program that Airmen can use to get their active duty degrees.

Navy College Program

The Navy College Program offers a structured 5-step process to facilitate the education goals of Navy personnel. Students can start at whichever step best suits their current situation, which frees up time to get the process moving. All actions take place in the MyNavy Education portal, where students can access information about TA, the GI Bill, Scholarships, and even request guidance from a certified education counselor.

Marine Corps College Programs

The Marine Corps boasts a ton of education programs that are tailored to meet the needs of today’s Marines. The brunt of their college programs fall under the umbrella of the Voluntary Education Program. The VOLED program is where Marines access information about TA, CLEP, DANTES, COOL and DoD Skillbridge. There are too many to list here, so click the link to read more.

Coast Guard Volunteer Education

The Coast Guard’s VOLED program is designed to serve those personnel who are interested in getting their college degree while still in the service. The Coast Guard developed a Student Toolkit that guides students through the process of applying for TA, getting their Joint Service Transcript, and obtaining professional credentials for the military training they’ve completed.

US Military Apprenticeship Program

The US Military Apprenticeship Program is a training program that places service members into apprenticeships while they’re still on active duty. This program aids in the transition success for those who complete the apprenticeships in their chosen field. This program is open to active members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Education Goals

No matter which service you’re in, there are programs that can help you accomplish your educational and career goals. The sections listed above are a great starting point because we have brought to you all the programs we could find and presented them in one place.

Don’t forget, if you need help finding a school, check out our CollegeRecon School Search Tool. You can search by location, area of study, veteran & military program availability, and your education goals. 

Looking for a Yellow Ribbon School? We’ve got you covered.

Looking for schools that accept Military Tuition Assistance? Done.

If you have a school preference, we can help. Now, take that first step toward your Active Duty Degree!

 

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Active Duty Degrees: Navy College Program

The Navy College Program Means Degrees for Sailors

Sailors looking to advance their education goals should consider participating in the Navy College Program. Through their 5-Step Volunteer Education (VOLED) Process, the Navy takes professional development through education to another level.

The 5-Step VOLED Process

The Navy College Program created a glidepath for Sailors to follow which provides guidance along each step of their education journey. Since each student is different, Sailors can start at whichever step best suits their needs.

To participate in any of the Navy College Program’s offerings, Sailors must use the MyNavy Education portal. This is the central hub for processing Tuition Assistance and other applications along their journey.

The Five VOLED Steps

  1. Explore Education and Career Paths
  2. Research, Select a School, Develop a Plan
  3. Navy College Education Counseling
  4. Funding Through Tuition Assistance & Other Sources
  5. Implement Education Plan

Step 1: Exploring Opportunities

Not everyone knows what they want to study at college. Not everyone knows what career they want after leaving the service. For those people like me, this is a crucial step to take.

As you explore what’s out there, you will encounter some fantastic resources provided by the Navy College Program. Some of these are:

Use these resources to discover what you’re passionate about.

Step 2: Exploring Education Programs

Once you’ve decided on a career path, and you’ve discovered the education requirements needed to succeed in that career, the next step involves finding a suitable education program.

In this step, you have the option to search for programs by your Rating. This option tailors those career paths that most align with what you’ve already been doing in the Navy.

Perhaps you’re looking to do something different after the military. In this case, you can search by occupation or search by degree program. Both of these options allow you to discover what is available for your desired professional goals.

See also: Best Online Schools for Active Duty Military

Step 3: Navy College Education Counseling

The VOLED process requires Sailors to complete a counseling session with an education counselor. This session is designed to cover your goals and plans, and they could cover topics you may have missed in your research.

The mandatory counseling is a requirement to secure TA/NCPACE funding.

You can schedule your education counseling by calling NCVEC at 833-330-MNCC (6622). You can also submit an “Inquiry” through the Issue Tracker in your MyNavy Education portal.

Step 4: Secure Education Funding

There are a number of ways to fund your education. Some are earned through your service, while others are available through state and federal funding initiatives.

Navy Tuition Assistance

Be advised that NAVADMIN 214/21 provides an updated list of eligibility requirements for those seeking to use Tuition Assistance. Read this policy carefully before you seek funding.

The Navy College Program has two primary programs that Sailors can use to fund their education.

  1. Tuition Assistance (TA)
  2. Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE)

Each of these programs could pay 100% of your tuition at most institutions of higher learning. Keep in mind that there can be changes to these programs each fiscal year. There are also caps and limits on how much funding you can receive over the course of your career.

While TA is available to all eligible Sailors, the NCPACE program is designed for those who are assigned to specific categories of sea duty. This ensures that Sailors afloat have similar opportunities as those who are on shore.

Through accredited post-secondary institutions, NCPACE offers distance learning college courses. The best part is, courses in the NCPACE program do not require a consistent internet connection. In most cases, the course is downloaded in-full at the beginning, and then the coursework is uploaded at the end of the course.

RELATED: Military & Veteran College Scholarships and Grants

Top-Up Program

The Top-Up Program allows students to use their GI Bill benefits for reimbursement of tuition expenses not fully covered by TA/NCPACE.

Based on which GI Bill benefit you’re using (Montgomery or Post-9/11), the process of topping-up could deplete your benefit faster. For example, using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to reimburse any remaining tuition will use up that benefit faster than the MGIB Top-Up.

For more detailed information, carefully read the VA’s how-to guide for Using Tuition Assistance Top-Up.

Navy College Fund

The Navy College Fund offers new service members an increase in the MGIB Basic Allowance. This is commonly referred to as a “kicker” and is part of the service member’s contract.

The kicker is available through the Navy College Fund for those Sailors who convert to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but it is not transferable to dependents.

Navy Education: Alternative Funding Programs

There are also Navy education programs that could fund your education. Be advised, participants in the following programs are not eligible to use TA at the same time.

Education Programs for Enlisted Sailors

Educational Programs for Naval Officers

Federal & State Financial Aid

During your mandatory education counseling, the counselor will likely cover other funding options if you have no GI Bill benefits or have not been approved for TA.

Some of these options include:

Scholarship

And of course, there are so many scholarships out there to help pay for tuition and other educational expenditures.

Since there are so many scholarships out there, it is advisable to utilize a scholarship search tool. These search tools can cut down the time needed to find applicable scholarships.

Some great search tools are:

You need to know that where there is the will to complete your goals, there is a way to pay for it.

Step 5: Implement Your Education Plan

By the time you get to this point, you have done a lot of work. You have:

  • Researched career and education goals
  • Evaluated different schools and programs
  • Received counseling from an education specialist
  • And sourced funding to pay for your education

You’ve done all of that just to get to this point where you implement your plan. As you begin taking courses, remember to stay in contact with your command and/or counselor during the course of your program.

This is especially true if you encounter problems or change degree programs. 

Once you’ve completed your program, make sure that your degree is posted to your Joint Services Transcript. You accomplish this by asking your school to submit an official transcript to the JST Operations Center.

And of course, Congratulations, Sailor! You’ve just finished an active duty degree!

Conclusion

I firmly believe that getting an education is one of the most important journeys anyone can take in their life. Whether it is obtaining vocational credentials, getting computer certifications, or chasing down a degree program, learning should never stop.

It is awesome to see how many opportunities are available for our service members to get an education. If you’re interested in completing your education goals while in the Navy, please do not hesitate to follow the 5-Step VOLED Process outlined above.

It’s not just a job…it’s an adventure!

 

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Active Duty Degrees: Coast Guard Volunteer Education

Volunteer Education Opportunities in the Coast Guard

Members of the United States Coast Guard who are interested in obtaining a college degree while in the service should check out the Volunteer Education Services department. For many of the resources that follow, you will need your Coast Guard login credentials to proceed.

Volunteer Education Services

The VOLED services portal brings together a number of resources that aid Coast Guard members in the pursuit of their education goals. These are the four main sections of the VOLED portal:

  1. Tuition Assistance & Grants
  2. Student Resources
  3. Registrar Services
  4. Course Support & Testing

Each of these sections presents targeted assistance for any issues that students face.

Tuition Assistance & Grants

This is one of the first sections that future students visit. Within this department are resources about Tuition Assistance (TA) Procedures. Like other TA programs, the Coast Guard TA program seeks to aid Coast Guard personnel who are taking off-duty education courses. 

Be advised that TA is NOT authorized for courses that are at a lower level than the degree you may currently have. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree then you cannot use TA to cover any other bachelor’s level courses, even if they’re required for acceptance into a Master’s program.

RELATED: Cost Guard Tuition Assistance Overview

For specific policy information, carefully read the latest Coast Guard TA Policy before applying.

Other services that are available in this department are Tuition Assistance Indebtedness, TA Waiver Applications, and information about Supplemental Education Grants (SEG).

There is also the Coast Guard Foundation Education Grant (CGFEG) that grants recipients funding for tuition, fees, and other expenses resulting from their education.

RELATED: 11 Best Scholarship for Coast Guard Members

Student Resources

The Student Resources Section is another high-traffic area for current and future students. It offers some programs specific to the Coast Guard, and others that are generally available to military students. Some of the resources include:

Registrar Services

Through the Registrar Services department, students can request copies of their Joint Service Transcript, and Report a Degree they’ve completed for inclusion on their transcript.

Additionally, students use these services to access the DANTES Exam Reimbursement Center to recoup money they’ve spent on exam fees.

SEE ALSO: Coast Guard College Education Programs

Course Support & Testing

The support and testing department provides all the information and resources Coast Guard personnel may need as they pursue their professional and education goals. Some of these resources include information on:

In addition to these resources, Training Materials (login required) are also available for students to use in preparation for a variety of tests and exams.

Additional Education Resources

In addition to the items above, the Coast Guard also has a credentialing assistance program called Coast Guard Credential Opportunities On-Line (CG COOL). With CG COOL, service members can earn the official recognition they deserve for the professional and technical standards required for many Coast Guard job fields.

The Coast Guard also offers the USCG Skillport website that allows Coast Guard personnel access to books, videos, and courses to expand their professional development. A login is required for this resource.

Get That Degree

The Coast Guard is often overlooked as a sister service to the others, I think, because it is housed under the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense. My oldest son recently joined the Coast Guard, so addressing the programs and benefits is personal.

The Coast Guard has tailored its assistance offering to the specific needs of its personnel. It is entirely possible to complete your college degree while serving in the United States Coast Guard.

Semper Paratus!

 

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Military Service Could Eliminate Student Loan Debt with PSLF

Military Service Could Help Erase Student Loan Debt with Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Did you know that your military service could lead to the forgiveness of student loans? 

The Department of Education (DoE) recently made changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Problem of Student Loans

Information from the Education Data Initiative shows that:

  • 43.2 million student borrowers are in debt by an average of $37,014
  • The average public university student borrows $30,030 for their undergraduate degree
  • Student loan debt in the US totals $1.762 trillion
  • Student loan debt grows 6 times faster than the nation’s economy

Post-secondary education is important, and it can get expensive. During the pandemic, when universities either shut down or went online, indignant students demanded a reduction or refund of their tuition.

The most notable case comes from a Harvard University lawsuit that was filed by students to force a partial refund of the nearly $50,000/year tuition. The lawsuit alleged that the online learning environment was subpar compared to the in-person learning the students expected when they took out their student loans.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, but it demonstrates a crescendo of student voices who are questioning the value of their education for the price they have to pay.

RELATED: Department of Education Eliminates $5.8 Million in Student Loan Debt

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver

People who are employed by the federal, state, local, or tribal government, or a not-for-profit organization, may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

PSLF Eligibility

Eligibility for the PSLF program depends on certain factors. 

The following must be true:

  • You must be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or a non-profit organization. Military service counts as federal service.
  • You work full time for that agency or organization
  • You have Direct Loans, or you consolidate other federal loans into a Direct Loan
  • You repay your loans under an income-driven plan
  • You make 120 qualifying payments

Because you need to make 120 qualifying monthly payments, it will take at least 10 years before you are eligible for the PSLF program.

Changes to PSLF as of October 2021

On October 6th, 2021, the Department of Education announced coming changes to the PSLF.

The changes to the program include:

    1. A limited PSLF waiver that allows all payments by student borrowers to count toward PSLF, regardless of loan program or payment plan. This includes past payments that were late, or payments for less than the amount due.
  • Allows active duty service members to count deferments and forbearances toward PSLF.
  • Automatically provides credit toward PSLF for military service members and federal employees.
  1. Reviewing denied PSLF applications for errors and giving borrowers the chance to have their PSLF determinations reconsidered.
  2. Borrowers can receive forgiveness even if they’re not employed or not employed by a qualifying employer at the time of application and forgiveness.

The press release also mentioned that the current administration has approved more than $11.5 billion in loan cancellation for over 580,000 borrowers.

These temporary changes will last only until October 31, 2022. 

Check out the PSLF Waiver page for more information on Qualifying Payments. They also have a robust Q&A section that covers a lot of ground specific to each category of student borrower.

Applying for a PSLF Waiver

Your first step should be to use the PSLF Help Tool, which lets you search for qualifying employers and to learn what actions you should take to become eligible for PSLF. To use the PSLF Help Tool, you must first login to your student aid account.

Every time you submit a form, the office of Federal Student Aid will evaluate your eligibility for forgiveness, and then grant that forgiveness if you are eligible.

Loan Forgiveness Problems

While the elimination of student loan debt is a highly politicized arena, there have been ambiguities and issues that have plagued the PSLF program for some time.

The nonprofit organization Education Data Initiative provides recent statistical data that sheds some light on these problems. According to EDI:

  • The Higher Education Act has never been funded by Congress
  • 0.7% of eligible borrowers will benefit from the forgiveness program
  • 6.7% of eligible student borrowers apply for the program
  • Slightly more than 1% of applications to the PSLF have been approved since the program began
  • In the first year of PSLF, 0.032% of all applications were approved
  • 3 million student borrowers are eligible for the PSLF, but little more than 200,000 have applied
  • The Department of Education approved only $26.9 million of the $700 million appropriated for the PSLF

One of the main problems with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is that very few student borrowers even know about it.

Another is the historically selective and rigorous demands of the program. You can make all the money in the world available for loan forgiveness; but if the regulations are so tight, then it eliminates most of the student borrowers.

Time is Running Out

Let’s hope that these temporary changes will allow more applicants to benefit from the PSLF program. The changes are only in effect until October 31, 2022, which means you need to have your application in by then.

If you are an active duty service member who is carrying student loan debt, please do not miss this chance to have your military service count toward debt forgiveness.

The process sounds like it’s not easy, so take advantage of the time available to square yourself away!

 

 

New Law Guarantees In-State Tuition for Survivors & Dependents

On November 30, 2021, President Biden signed into law legislation that nearly guarantees in-state tuition rates for individuals using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program.

Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act of 2021 (SB 1095)

This law requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disapprove courses at institutions of higher learning that charge a higher rate of tuition and fees than those in-state rates for individuals using the Survivors’ and Dependents Educational Assistance program.

Many colleges and universities have adopted policies granting active service members in-state tuition rates while stationed in various states. This law ensures that those survivors and dependents receiving educational assistance will receive the same benefit.

However, instead of waiting for each state to pass its own version of the law, this legislation directs the VA to disapprove courses at approved institutions who are still charging out-of-state tuition rates to survivors.

What happens when a course is disapproved by the VA?

That’s an excellent question, but the text of the bill does not indicate what will happen if a course required for a program is disapproved.

The implication is that the school will be denied funding for the courses until it charges the correct tuition rate. At which point, it is assumed that the VA will approve the courses.

Even so, there is still time to figure all that out. As of this writing, the VA hasn’t responded to our emails. However, these changes will apply to academic periods that begin on or after August 1, 2022.

So, hopefully we’ll hear something from the VA before that.

Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35)

This program helps pay for school and job training for approved participants. It applies to children or a spouse of a Veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has disabilities.

You may be eligible for Chapter 35 benefits if at least one of the following is true. The Veteran or service member:

  • Is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability
  • Died while on active duty, or as a result of a service-connected disability
  • Is missing in action (MIA) or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Was forcibly detained in the line of duty by a foreign entity
  • Is hospitalized for a service-connected disability that is permanent and total

Find out more about the eligibility requirements for spouses and dependent children of Veterans or service members who wish to use Chapter 35 assistance.

Next Steps for Using Chapter 35 Under the New Law

If you are eligible for Chapter 35 benefits and you plan to use them on or after August 1, 2022, make sure that you understand the in-state tuition rates for your institution.

You must be aware that not all schools may be tracking these changes, although they should be. If you’re still being charged out-of-state tuition rates after August 2022, let your School Certifying Official know. 

A course disapproval may impact your graduation timeline, but you should take full advantage of in-state tuition rates.

(Image courtesy of Andrey Popov via Shutterstock)

 

Find Scholarships and more for Military and Veterans

 

 

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There is a New Update to MyCAA

The NDAA 21’ expands the Department of Defense MyCAA scholarship

MyCAA has been around since 2010, and there have been several changes along the way. From who can qualify for the program to what you can use MyCAA for. MyCAA, which stands for My Career Advancement Account, is a scholarship that provides military spouses with $4,000 to pursue their education. MyCAA is offered through the DoD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program. 

The Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act expands the MyCAA scholarship. This update will allow military spouses to use MyCAA for national testing and certain continuing education credits. Military spouses will now be able to use MyCAA for continuing education credits and for national testing by the end of September. 

“These latest additions to the MyCAA Scholarship provide even greater opportunities and increased flexibility for military spouses to meet their education requirements,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Patricia “Patty” Montes Barron. “This expansion will help clear a new path for military spouses to advance in their careers while contributing to the financial stability of their families.”

The FY20 National Defense Authorization Act also expanded the MyCAA by opening up the program so that military spouses can pursue any license, certification, or associate’s degree to pursue any occupation or career.

In order to qualify for the MyCAA program, military spouses will need to be married to a service member in the pay grades of either E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2.

Military spouses, school, and a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) career coach will need to work together to define a clear career path for the military spouse. This plan is called an education and training plan and it will need to be completed in order to receive the funds from MyCAA.

MyCAA will give you up to $4,000 of tuition assistance for your education. However, this is broken up as $2,000 per year for two years.

You can read more about the MyCAA on our MyCAA page at CollegeRecon. 

 

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FAFSA Changes Coming: Good & Bad

Analysis of Changes Coming for FAFSA

On July 1, 2023, there will be big changes in the way FAFSA operates. These changes result from the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) 2021, which was passed in December 2020 to expand provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

While many policy changes were included in the CAA, one of the biggest changes happens to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a program used by students each year to determine their eligibility for federal college money. The 2022 FAFSA will first see the following changes.

From “EFC” to “SAI”

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a number used by colleges to determine someone’s eligibility for financial aid. Ambiguity surrounds the term, which could be taken to mean how much money a family can provide, or the amount of aid a student is eligible to receive. 

To eliminate that confusion, the term used on 2022’s FAFSA application will be the Student Aid Index (SAI). This term will do nothing except clarify the meaning of the number used by colleges in determining aid. It does not indicate how much aid a family can or will pay towards a student’s college.

A Shorter, Easier Application

Earlier this month, Kiplinger noted that there was cause for concern as “a decrease in the number of families completing the FAFSA”. Furthermore, in a report issued by The National College Attainment Network, there has been a 10% drop in financial aid applications since January 2020. The pandemic is obviously a major factor, but there is speculation that the sheer number of questions on the current FAFSA application has deterred many families from completing it.

The provision of the new bill will eliminate many questions, some of which did not apply to most students applying for financial aid. The result will likely be a reduction in the number of questions from over 100 to just under 40. It will also allow for applicants to transfer their income directly into the FAFSA application instead of manually entering it.

Single Parent Versus Two-Parent Households

As it stands now, either parent in a two-parent household can fill out the FAFSA application for their student. However, when in single parent households, especially those where divorce or separation are a factor, the custodial parent has traditionally been the one filling it out. In the cases where the custodial parent earned less than the non-custodial parent, it benefited the student’s potential eligibility.

However, the new legislation requires the parent who provides the most financial support to complete the FAFSA. Where the support provides is 50/50, the parent with the highest annual income will be required to complete the application.

This provision could result in less financial aid eligibility, especially if there is a significant difference between the both parents’ income.

Multiple Student Discount: GONE

Under the current provisions, families with more than one child in college at the same time receive an increase in financial aid eligibility. This is pertinent for families with multiples (twins. triplets), or those whose children are closely spaced. This was a great benefit.

The new legislation has killed that discount. Starting in 2023, the financial eligibility for these families will be reduced.

Pell Grant Made Easier

The federal government doles out vast sums of financial aid through the Pell Grant because it is the most accessible program to lower income families. In addition to a slight increase in the max amount ($6,345 + $150 = $6,495), the new legislation simplifies eligibility by requiring that families make less that 175% of the federal poverty level. The Pell Grant is usually awarded to those whose annual income is less than $60,000 per year.

Changes to Student Loans

With the CARES Act, interest and payments on federal student loans was waived until the end of January, 2021 – just a few weeks ago. The new CAA legislation did not extend those waivers as many had hoped. The bill is also devoid of any provisions relating to student loan forgiveness. However, employers can still contribute towards the student debt held by their employees, tax-free up to $5,250 until the first day of 2026.

The new administration did eventually extend the waivers until the end of September, 2020. 

Summary

The FAFSA will remain a required step in obtaining federal aid. The new bill has certainly disrupted the FAFSA environment, with some portions becoming easier. Although, it remains to be seen if those changes have the impact legislators believe. It can also be argued that the legislation may have complicated other aspects of financial aid that were never a problem. 

As more information becomes available, we will report it to you.

(Image courtesy of BDoss928 via Shutterstock)

 

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Air Force Restores the Cap on the Air Force Tuition Assistance

Tuition Assistance Program Restored by Air Force

Last week, the Department of the Air Force announced that it has restored the military tuition assistance cap back to $4,500 per fiscal year. They also announced that the Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) funding has been restored, effective immediately.

Air Force Previously Cut the Tuition Assistance Cap

We previously reported that the Air Force cut the TA cap in response to an increase in applications for the program, coupled with funding questions as the government transitioned into a new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020.

Previous TA Cap Restored

Now, as it was before, Airmen and Space Professionals are eligible for up to $4,500 per fiscal year, with a max allowance of $250 per semester hour or quarter hour equivalent. The Air Force COOL funding for preparatory courses or “boot camps” is also restored, with its previous funding limits being $4,500 per life-time.

This is a great day for all Air Force personnel who are motivated to advance their education. Lieutenant General Brian Kelley stated that his command was “excited that our members are taking advantage of their time under COVID-19 to improve themselves and pursue education.” He further noted that the Air Force had to reprioritize funding to restore the original program.

If you are a member of the Air Force / Space Force, here’s a link for more info on the Air Force’s Tuition Assistance Program page which gives you the information you need to get started. You may also wish to reference the Air Force Instruction 36-2670, “Total Force Development” publication.

Please visit this page for more information on Tuition Assistance for all services.

(Image courtesy of Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, DVIDS)

 

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Top Schools for Utilizing Military Tuition Assistance Benefits

Ranking Most Popular Schools for Military Tuition Assistance

Tuition Assistance for the military is a wonderful added benefit for active duty service members to utilize.  Military TA provides the ability to pay up to 100% of tuition. Each service does have its own criteria and restrictions, though. Regardless, there are a number of institutions that are very popular among the military community, for reasons such as ease of use, better understanding of TA rules, and ability to reach service members, to name a few.  Here are the most popular schools for military using their tuition assistance benefits.  These are ranked by the number of students utilizing their TA benefits.

RELATED: Schools Where Tuition is Fully Covered by Tuition Assistance

Around 220,000 service members from the four main services used Tuition Assistance benefits in 2019, totaling more than $492 million in tuition.

In terms of popularity based solely on enrollment, these are the top 15 schools chosen by service members to use their TA for the year 2019:

 

Rank Institution Type # of TA students  Total Spent
1st American Public Education, Inc. (APUS) For-Profit 39,812 $80,987,863
2nd University System of Maryland (UMGC) Public 28,569 $51,823,194
3rd Ashford For-Profit 10,967 $24,037,975
4th Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Private 8,829 $18,260,937
5th Central Texas College Public 8,792 $10,268,099
6th Columbia Southern & Waldorf University For-Profit 7,174 $13,884,528
7th Purdue University Campuses Public 6,825 $14,431,283
8th Liberty University Private 6,679 $14,873,918
9th Excelsior College Private 6,241 $12,368,674
10th Park University Private 4,521 $9,292,331
11th Southern New Hampshire University Private 4,515 $10,290,424
12th Trident University International For-Profit 4,498 $11,871,069
13th Columbia College Private 3,293 $6,680,686
14th Arizona State, NAU, & U of A Public 2,787 $6,619,034
15th Saint Leo University Private 2,769 $6,397,750

 

*Data for table credited to Military Times

“Popular” Doesn’t Equal “Best”

Popular doesn’t always mean it’s the best option for everyone, however. And the list above does not mean that the first ranked college is better than the last ranked college.

For example, while Embry-Riddle is 4th on the above list, its graduate cost per credit hour is almost $200 more than Park University’s graduate cost-per-credit hour, ranked 10th. In terms of getting the most out of your dollar, being offered the best incentives, and having the best support system, not every university is primed to be the best fit for every active duty member.

Schools Accepting TA That Also Provide Incentives for Military Students

Here are a few schools that offer military incentives.  This may help give you an idea of what to look for in any institution you may be interested in.

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

4-year, public college with in-state, undergraduate tuition of $6,380. Attending as an online undergraduate, the tuition is $3,876.

The biggest military benefits the university provides are:

  • Credit for military training
  • In-state tuition rates without residency
  • DOD Voluntary Education partner in tuition assistance

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

4-year, private non-profit college which has both in-state undergraduate tuition rates and online college tuition rates (that differ vastly).

However, their website states, “Active military personnel, veterans, National Guard, or Reserve, and their immediate families (including spouses, children and parents) are eligible for a 10–50% tuition reduction.”

The university also offers military scholarships, a military transition program, and is a DOD Voluntary Education partner in tuition assistance.

The University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

4-year, public college which also has both in-state and online tuition rates.

According to their website, “If you are a military member or a dependent, you may be eligible for tuition assistance and fee reimbursement.”

They are also have multiple ROTC programs and accept military transfer credits.

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK

4-year, public college that participates in the DOD Voluntary Education transition assistance program.

OSU:

  • Waives application fees for active duty and veterans
  • Has limited ROTC programs
  • Has various tuition rates based on online, in-person, in-state, or out-of-state
  • Accepts military transfer credits
  • Has contingencies in place for military leave and deployment situations

Also, numerous military scholarships are available for different circumstances.

 

Find schools approved for military tuition assistance with CollegeRecon today!

 

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List of Navy & Air Force Tuition Assistance Benefits Changes

Changes to Tuition Assistance Benefits for Navy and Air Force

Tuition Assistance (TA) is more popular now than ever thanks to COVID, with most service members having a little extra time on their hands to focus on higher education. Because of this increase in use, changes have been made to both Navy and Air Force Tuition Assistance benefits.

Navy Tuition Assistance Changes

In late September, the Navy announced plans to increase fiscal year 2021’s TA funding by nearly $20 million.

The TA fund was underbudgeted in 2019, which caused caps to be applied in 2020 to recoup the mistake. For 2020, the Navy imposed restrictions such as barring use in the first two years of service, limiting annual assistance to $3,000, and more. But that isn’t the trend that the Navy wants to continue.

“One of the greatest benefits of serving in uniform.” –  Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite

Navy Requests Additional Funding for TA Benefits

In his 100-Day Message, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite praised TA as “one of the greatest benefits of serving in uniform.” In an effort to continue the furthering of education to make the Naval Force more effective and well-rounded, Braithwaite said, “We have requested more funding for [this] program to prevent future funding shortages.”

Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel, said that while these additional provisions are slated to begin fiscal year 2021, “it appears we will be under a continuing resolution… [immediately] lifting the caps could result in a repeat of fiscal year 2019 when we exhausted TA funding in the middle of the 3rd quarter.”

Hecht said that reassessment of caps will occur throughout the fiscal year to determine when they can be removed. No specific deadline has been set.

RELATED: Colleges Fully Covered by Military Tuition Assistance

Air Force Tuition Assistance Changes

Similarly in September, the Air Force also released changes to their TA benefits. Officials announced a drop in TA caps, from $4,500 annually to $3,750 as a measure to ensure fiscal sustainability and program availability. However, only 2 months later, the Air Force decided to restore the original AF Cool limits and TA cap of $4,500.

RELATED: Air Force Restores Tuition Assistance

TA Usage Numbers Continue to Increase

Of the reversion, Lt. Gen Brian T. Kelly said, “We are excited our members are taking advantage of their time under COVID to improve themselves and pursue education. The Department of the Air Force was able to reprioritize funding to encourage our service members to maximize their development through these educational benefits.”

Just as highlighted by Braithwaite, Chief Master Sgt. Of the Air Force Joanne Bass said, “Voluntary education and military tuition assistance programs continue to be important to the development of our force.”

This trend in increased TA usage is also mimicked in other branches of service. For example, the Army saw a 10% increase in soldiers using benefits in fiscal year 2020. If the trends seen in the Navy and Air Force are any indication, we may be seeing a rise in funding for educational related benefits moving forward.

 

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12 States With the Most Unclaimed Veterans Education Benefits

Don’t Forget These Veterans Education Benefits in These 12 States

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs published information about the most underused benefits, as reported by each state’s veterans department. The following states reported that these education benefits were the most underused by veterans.

Florida

The Deputy Executive Director of Florida’s Department of Veterans Affairs, James S. Hartsell, explained that, “Florida waives undergraduate-level tuition at state universities and community colleges for Florida recipients of the Purple Heart and other combat-related decorations superior in precedence to the Purple Heart.” This benefit also applied to the state’s career and technical training facilities. Learn more about Florida’s education benefits for veterans.

For more info, please go here.

Iowa

The Brandstead-Reynolds Scholarship Program receives the least applications each year from this state. This program provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children of deceased military service members who died on active duty after September 11th, 2001. Another underused program is the War Orphan Tuition Assistance Program.

For more info, please go here.

Maine

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services reported that the most underused benefit offered by their state is the Veterans Dependent Education Benefit, which is only offered to those veterans who have received a 100% Permanent and Total Disability rating. David Richmond, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans’ Services, explained that “dependents and spouses of qualifying veterans are provided 100% waiver of tuition and all mandatory fees for spouses and dependents of veterans at all University of Maine System Schools, Maine Community Colleges, and Maine Maritime Academy.” He laments that many veterans who qualify do not use the benefit.

For more info, please go here.

Michigan

The Children of Veterans Tuition Grant, which provides undergraduate tuition assistance to students aged 17-25 who are the natural or adopted child of a Michigan veteran, is this state’s most underused benefit. The director of Michigan’s Veterans Affairs Agency, Zaneta Adams,  explained that a veteran must have died or have become permanently disabled as a result of their military service. “The families of our veterans are just as important to us as our veterans, which is why we want to ensure that they take advantage of all their benefits,” she said.

For more info, please go here.

Minnesota

Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs reported that the Minnesota GI Bill was among the least used benefits by veterans in his state. The program provides a maximum benefit of $10,000, up to age 62, for any eligible Minnesota veterans, currently serving military, National Guard and Reserve members who served after September 11, 2001, and eligible spouses and children. Participants can use the benefit at institutes of higher education, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or licensing and certification.

For more info, please go here.

Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs reported that their most underused state benefit is the Reservist Tuition Credit. Under this program, Nebraska residents who are enlisted members of the Nebraska-based unit of the Active Selected Reserve may be eligible for a 50% tuition credit to the University of Nebraska campuses, state colleges and community colleges.

For more info, please go here.

Ohio

Sean McCarthy, assistant director of Ohio’s Department of Veterans Services, explained that “[t]he Ohio National Guard offers tuition assistance at over 150 Ohio colleges and universities for Veterans who serve in an enlisted drilling status with the Guard – up to four semesters of full time tuition for a three year commitment, and up to eight semesters for a six-year commitment. If you’re transitioning out of the active service and join the Ohio National Guard, this benefit would net you some excellent college time!

For more info, please go here.

Rhode Island

This state’s Office of Veterans Services reported that the most underused benefit is for eligible active duty military and veterans to receive in-state tuition rates at University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College “immediately upon establishing residence in Rhode Island.” Wow! No waiting period. That’s fantastic!

For more info, please go here.

South Carolina

South Carolina provides free tuition or education assistance for qualified children of certain military veterans applying to or enrolled in a South Carolina state supported college, university, or post-secondary technical education program. This waiver can also apply to acceptance into dual enrollment/early college credit programs prior to graduating high school. Certain residency requirements must be met.

For more info, please go here.

South Dakota

Education benefits are the most underused portion of South Dakota’s suite of veterans benefits. Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages all veterans of the state to contact their local county or tribal veterans service officers, or the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs office (605-773-3269) to learn more about their benefits, or visit the link above to visit their benefits website.

For more info, please go here.

Tennessee

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has a goal of becoming the “most veteran friendly higher education system in the nation”. They believe that the military training you have endured should be appropriately recognized at the college level. Using their TN-SOP tool, Tennessee is providing a head start to veterans on obtaining college credentials.

This tool is actually pretty cool. First, I selected my branch of service. Then, I entered my MOS (11B Infantryman), then my highest pay grade, and finally the date of my initial training. With that information, the SOP tool populated a list of Tennessee colleges and universities with the amount of transfer credits I’d be eligible to receive. For example, Middle Tennessee University would grant me 18 credit hours with just my MOS. That six less classes I would need to take for a degree program. Please check this tool out!

For more info, please go here.

Wyoming

Tim Sheppard, executive director of the Wyoming Veterans Commission, said that the most underused benefit for his state is the honorary high school diploma. “We haven’t had a request in over three years.”

Here’s how it works: “The following personnel who have attended a Wyoming high school, entered military service on these specified dates (shown below) prior to completing necessary high school graduation requirements, and who did not receive a high school diploma, may apply to the state superintendent of public instruction for an honorary high school diploma.”

An honorably discharged veteran of:

  • World War II who served in the U.S. military between December 8, 1941 and August 14, 1945.
  • The Korean War, who served in the U.S. military between June 27, 1950 and July 28, 1953.
  • The Vietnam War, who served in the U.S. military between February 28, 1961 and August 15, 1973.

While this is not the typical education benefit, it is one of my favorites. It reminds us that there are citizens among us who stopped their whole lives to fight for our country. Some of them were only in high school when they made that choice. I commend Wyoming for this benefit.

Importance of Education Benefits

To sum up this piece, I want to make it clear that most states have tremendous benefits available to their veterans and service members. The ones listed above reported an underuse of their state’s education benefits. So, if you are veteran of any of these states, please take advantage of these amazing opportunities!

(Image courtesy of Hong Qi Zhang via 123rf.com)

 

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Air Force Cuts the Cap on the Air Force Tuition Assistance

Tuition Assistance Cap for Air Force Reduced

Beginning October 1, 2020, the Air Force will cut the cap for their Tuition Assistance (TA) program. The maximum amount of money airmen can receive in the next fiscal year will drop from $4,500 to $3,750, according to an announcement from the Department of the Air Force. These cuts apply to both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Tuition Assistance Cap Cuts Due to COVID-19

The cuts come as a result of a spike in applications for TA since this past spring, when many personnel were given stay-at-home orders. This second-order effect of the coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in airmen enrolling in college programs, which has also prompted an increase in requests for assistance.

How Many Service Members Are Impacted?

According to the AF Times, a total of 80,430 service members used the Air Force’s Tuition Assistance program, which is a fundamental tool for recruitment and retention. Based on those numbers, the Air Force projects a similar number for fiscal year 2021.

With that increase in the number of applicants, the Air Force is trying to ensure that every service member can get some assistance, even if that means cutting the cap available to each applicant. While extra funding was available for 2020’s increase in students, to the tune of nearly $18 million, the Air Force wants to avoid seeking extra funding for the next fiscal year.

The Air Force has no plans to change the credit-hour limits, which will remain at $250 per semester hour, and $166.66 per quarter hour.

Waivers Possible

As with anything in the military, there is the possibility of a waiver for exceeding the annual limit. Under extremely unique circumstances, like a degree program requiring a lab or non-traditional degree deadlines, waivers can be granted to exceed the $3,750 cap by one semester hour or two quarter hours. 

Lieutenant General Brian T. Kelly, the Air Force personnel chief, stated in yesterday’s new release that “tuition assistance aids in the development of a highly educated and skilled military force. By making these adjustments, we ensure this key benefit continues for all airmen and space professionals.” Indeed, tuition assistance is a tremendous benefit for today’s service members, especially when civilian students are struggling with excessive student loan debt.

Cuts Are The Best Option

Lieutenant General Kelley also noted, “In 2013, under sequestration, tuition assistance was suspended for some time and our service members were negatively impacted. As we go forward and budgets get tight, we want to prevent that from happening again and we made hard decisions in order to keep this program viable and accessible to our force.”

If the money dries up before the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2021, then those service members whose applications were not approved will have to wait until the following fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021.

Apply Now!

Air Force and Space Force members can apply for tuition assistance up to 45 days before the start of their classes by using the Air Force Virtual Education Center. For further guidance on this new policy, consult Air Force Instruction 36-2670 Total Force Development

Alternatives to TA

Ending his statement, Lt. General Kelly encouraged his personnel to examine the “several avenues members can use to get their degrees and minimize out-of-pocket expenses.” Those interested in other resources should research the Post-9/11 GI Bill (official site), Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) subject standardized tests (DSSTs), and the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). Air Force officials are also urging airmen to pursue degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.

These are certainly challenging times, and it is great that many institutes of higher learning are finding ways to adapt. The Air Force is the first to make such cuts, and it may not be long before the other services follow in their boot steps.

(Image courtesy of burdun via www.123rf.com

 

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MyCAA: Highest Paying Careers Without a 4-Year Degree

Hit the Ground Running on High Paying Careers with MyCAA

Not all careers require four-year degrees from expensive colleges. Military spouses who want to hit the ground running in a lucrative career field should take advantage of the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA) program.

MyCAA offers up to $4,000 of tuition assistance to military spouses. An expansion of the program announced at the beginning of 2020 approves the application of the scholarship to academic training in any field or career. This tuition assistance can be put toward the pursuit of:

  • Licenses
  • Certifications
  • Associate Degrees

MyCAA Eligibility Requirements

Eligible spouses must meet the below requirements:

  • Successfully completed high school, and be eligible to apply for tuition assistance.
  • Spouse’s service member must be on active duty in the Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Army
  • If spouse’s sponsor is in the National Guard or Reserves, they are only eligible while their spouse is activated on Title 10 orders.
  • Spouse’s service member must be in one of the following pay grades at the time of enrollment in the program:

E-1 to E-5

W-1 to W-2

O-1 to O-2

For further details on the MyCAA program, read College Recon’s article MyCAA: Everything You Need to Know.

We’ve put together some information on a number of the highest paying, portable, entry-level career positions which can be acquired with only one of the above academic accomplishments.

Radiation Therapist

Starting Salary: $56,000

Median Salary: $80,000

Requirements:

  • Associates Degree in Radiation Therapy
  • State License
  • Pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification exam

Find related associate’s degrees or certifications in the CollegeRecon search tool here.

Radiation Therapist Job Overview

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients via treatments of carefully calculated doses of radiation. Strong interpersonal skills and an empathetic personality are important traits when working with ill patients.

Real Estate Agent

Starting Salary: $32,000

Median Salary: $57,000

Requirement:

  • State License

Although a degree is not required, an associates degree or certification in finance or business might make you a more attractive applicant to real estate firms.

Find related associate’s degrees or certifications in the CollegeRecon search tool here.

Real Estate Agent Job Overview

This career is highly suited to a military spouse, in that in you typically set your own hours, it is highly portable, and a strong work ethic intrinsic to military life is a necessity in a commission-based career. A commission-based salary means that you get out of it what you put in, which means you could just as easily either maintain this career on a part-time basis, or grind to the top of your field.

Firefighter

Starting Salary: $30,000

Median Salary: $60,000

Requirements:

  • High School Diploma

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Become a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Obtain an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science

Firefighter Job Overview

Firefighters respond to fires, but that’s far from all that they do. They also dispatch to vehicle accidents, and other incidents where there is risk to life or property, for instance in the case of a bomb threat or a flood. Day-to-day tasks also include activities such as preventative building inspections and community involvement and education.

Funeral Director (or Mortician)

Starting Salary: $30,000

Median Salary: $58,000

Requirements:

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Associate’s Degree in Funeral Service or Mortuary Science
  • Pass State/ National Board Exam
  • An internship lasting 1-3 years

Funeral Director Job Overview

Funeral directors help plan and carry out funeral services, wakes, and memorial services. Most funeral directors are also practicing embalmers, which involves the preparation and preservation of the body before burial. Considering the intensely personal and emotional nature of this career, empathy, tact, and excellent customer service skills are paramount.

Electrocardiograph (EKG) Technician

Starting Salary: $30,000

Median Salary: $45,000

Requirements:

  • High School Diploma or GED
  • EKG training certification

Electrocardiograph (EKG) Technician Job Overview

Electrocardiograph Technicians perform testing on patients to determine their cardiovascular health. They administer diagnostic testing and monitor blood pressure, collecting data for doctors to analyze and translate into a diagnosis.

To find schools with programs in the above fields, visit the MyCAA website to use their search tool.

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College and Career Prep Programs for Military Connected High Schoolers

College and Career Prep Programs for Military Connected High Schoolers

The whirlwinds of military life and PCSs can make time seem to move in fast forward. This can feel especially true for active duty families with dependents on their way to high school or college.

Understanding the resources available can help with making decisions as to which school will best support students in success after high school. Choosing the right school district is one challenging aspect of PCSing.

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

Did you know, that most military children have changed schools 6-9 times by the time they complete high school?

In the works since 2006, an agreement between all 50 states and the District of Columbia has worked to address challenges related to education faced by children of military families. The compact only applies to public and DoDEA schools.

The goal is to develop consistent policies in every school district. The agreement addresses issues regarding:

  • Eligibility for enrollment and participation in extracurricular activities
  • Attendance and absence related to deployment activities
  • Placement flexibility in courses and educational programs
  • Graduation requirement flexibility including waiving requirements if comparable course work has been completed, alternative testing, and which school issues a diploma during a relocation

When a family with middle or high school students PCSs, it is important for these students to stay on track for graduation and this agreement supports just that.

DoDEA Resources for College and Career Readiness

Of the nearly 1 million military connected students, 70,000 are enrolled in DoDEA schools around the world. These schools are fully accredited and support students in learning necessary skills and knowledge to be college and career ready. Listed here are some of the programs that support success among DoDEA students.

College and Career Ready Standards

DoDEA schools support college and their career success by establishing clear and consistent standards. Consistency is key to supporting military connected students who relocate frequently.

As of 2018, these standards are assessed through an online Comprehensive Assessment System. While there are arguments for and against standardized testing, the value in these assessments is related to the information collected. This information informs parents, those who make decisions about improving educational programs, and supports student learning. Many of these tests are required for college admission and some can result in earning college credit.

Tests offered by DoDEA that prepare students for college include:

  • The ACT assesses English, math, reading, and science and (optional) writing. The test is administered by DoDEA, but paid for by families. It gauges general educational development and ability to complete college-level work.
  • Advanced Placement exams are taken in May after completing an AP course. Students can earn college credit after successfully completing these exams.
  • CCRS Summative Assessments measure mastery of College and Career Ready Standards.
  • International Baccalaureate programs, like AP exams, are taken in May. Students can earn college credit after successfully completing these exams.
  • PSAT tests are taken in the fall by middle school and early high school students. These tests help students identify areas where they need to improve to be successful on more advanced tests like the SAT.
  • The SAT Reasoning Test assesses how well students can apply their knowledge of reading, writing, and math. Like the ACT, this test is administered by DODEA, but paid for by families.

Test Prep

Test prep resources for ACT, SAT, PSAT and AP exams are available for free through MWR Library resources. These are available to any eligible student, even those not attending DoDEA schools.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

Offered by DoDEA and available at 6,000 other schools nationwide, AVID strives to support students in preparing for college. The program begins supporting students as early as 7th grade. AVID provides support through:

  • Equity – create opportunities among all demographic groups
  • Teacher Effectiveness – support inquiry-based and student-centered instruction
  • Leadership – develop students’ leadership skills that they can carry into college
  • Student Learning – inspires students to control their own learning

Choices360

Offered by both DoDEA and other schools, Choices360 is an online planning tool for students to set and achieve goals related to graduation, college, and career. Students can develop a portfolio to support them after high school.

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States Offering In-State Tuition for Veterans After 3 Years from Discharge

States that Offer Veterans In-State Tuition Benefits

The Choice Act requires schools to allow non-resident veterans to qualify for in-state tuition for up to 3 years after their military service has ended.

For veterans to qualify for in-state tuition, they must use their Post 9/11 GI Bill within 3 years of separation from active duty service.

Beyond the Choice Act

While all states meet the Choice Act requirement and 27 states have passed laws that make veteran students eligible for in-state tuition beyond the 3-year limit, confusing and inconsistent laws remain in multiple states.

It stands to reason that amending the Choice Act will ensure that veterans have full access to the GI Bill benefit.

States That Offer Resident Tuition Beyond 3 Years to Veterans

All schools provide in-state tuition beyond the 3-year cap for veterans unless otherwise specified.

  • Florida – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Maine
  • Maryland – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • New Jersey – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • New Mexico – veterans, spouses and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio – provides additional in-state tuition option called “GI Promise.”  Requires one year of active duty.
  • Oregon – attend public university and show evidence of physical presence in state within 12 months of enrollment
  • Pennsylvania – veterans and dependents all eligible beyond 3-year cap at state-related and state-owned institutions of higher learning including community colleges
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota – provides free tuition for some veterans
  • Tennessee – at public university
  • Texas – requires proof of intent to live in Texas
  • Utah – for veterans and their immediate families attending USHE institution that live within the state or have proof of intent to live in Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

States Granting Tuition with Limits Beyond 3 Years

These states are Choice Act compliant, however while they exceed Choice Act requirements, they are still inconsistent with the Forever GI Bill.

  • Alabama – Eligible for in-state tuition up to 5 years. After 5 years, veterans may qualify for in-state tuition if they live within 90 miles of an Alabama campus or attend an individual university that allows in-state tuition for active duty service members or veterans.
  • Alaska – University of Alaska system provides waiver for veterans eligible for the VA education benefit, their spouses, and dependents.  However, other public schools in Alaska do not.
  • Colorado – GI Promise Act offers in-state tuition adjustments, but not all veterans may qualify.
  • Connecticut – Covers 100% of tuition costs for veterans beyond the 3 year limit.
  • Delaware – University of Delaware provides waivers for qualified veterans. Offers benefits to dependents of POW or those MIA/KIA.
  • Georgia – Veterans are eligible for in-state tuition for up to 10 years.
  • Idaho – Veterans who meet requirements outlined in state statutes are eligible for non-resident tuition rates. These requirements are not consistent with the Choice Act.
  • New York – Veterans using Chapter 31 or 33 qualify for in-state tuition.
  • Nevada – Veterans and dependents are eligible for in-state tuition up to 5 years after separation from active duty.
  • Oklahoma – Veterans are eligible for in-state tuition for up to 5 years after separation from active duty.
  • US Virgin Islands – University of the Virgin Islands Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Program provides free tuition to qualifying veterans.
  • Washington – State law lets individual institutions determine their own waiver program requirements and requires residency for in-state tuition.

States That Do Not Grant Resident Tuition Beyond 3 Years

These states are Choice Act compliant, but do not grant resident tuition beyond the Choice Act requirements.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas – Scholarships for spouses and dependents of POWs or those MIA/KIA.
  • California – Offers tuition waivers to active duty service members, those living in the state a year prior to discharge, and dependents
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana – Indiana University System provides in-state tuition to any veteran who enrolls and establishes residency within a year of separation from active duty.
  • Louisiana – Act 581 provides an alternative avenue for in-state tuition with more strict requirements than the Choice Act. Disabled veterans and dependents qualify for in-state tuition.
  • Massachusetts – Offers waivers for those who qualify as veterans and permanent legal residents under state law.
  • Missouri – Missouri Returning Heroes Act provides a $50 per credit hour cap on tuition rates for qualified combat veterans. Dependents of active duty service members and veterans are eligible for in-state tuition.
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • West Virginia – Only public universities comply with the Choice Act. Read West Virginia Veteran Benefits for more information.
  • South Carolina
  • New Hampshire – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • Vermont – Some programs exist for dependents.
  • Washington, DC
  • Wyoming

Choice Act Ready for an Upgrade

Legislation surrounding the GI Bill can be confusing and differ from state to state. Amending the Choice Act can support congruence between this act and the Forever GI Bill.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (Forever GI Bill) of 2017 allows veterans to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at any time after separation from active duty service.

Section 702 of the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability (Choice) Act of 2014 requires schools to provide in-state tuition to eligible student veterans in order for the school to receive GI Bill funding.

 

For more detailed information on state-by-state benefits, refer to State Veterans Benefits for all 50 States and Territories.

 

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Maryland First State to Protect Veterans from College Profiteering

Maryland First State to Protect Veterans from College Profiteering

Effective July 1st, 2020, the Veteran’s Education Protection Act, which was passed in the Maryland General Assembly on May 7th, removes any incentive for an educational institution operating in Maryland to employ deceptive practices that defraud veterans.

What’s the Issue?

There has been a practice at some schools to use the GI Bill funds of their students to prop up their failing institutions’ revenue.

Due to the ambiguity of the federal regulations, which require at least 10% of a school’s revenue to come from non-federal sources, a demeaning practice has developed of enrolling as many veterans as possible to pad their revenue statements.

Maryland has become the first state in the union to close that negligent loophole. The state created a “90/10 rule” that forbids institutions based in Maryland from counting VA benefits as private revenue.

Community Response

This is a victory and one celebrated by veteran support organizations because the new law moves to stop institutions from using veterans as financial cattle.

Organizations like Veterans Education Success praised the new law and indicated that it was prompted by the inaction from the federal government. “As long as the federal government fails to close this loophole,” said Ramond Curtis, the state policy manager for Veterans Education Success, “the burden of protecting veterans from predatory for-profit schools will fall on the states.”

Curtis’ statement highlights an ugly truth between national and state legislation. Sometimes, a state will be more effective at protecting its citizens in matters such as these.

My Personal Experience

Many moons ago, I was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, and I decided to take some college courses. I wanted to improve my chances for promotion by showing initiative in personal and professional development.

One of the institutions I came across at Fort Meade’s education center was American Intercontinental University (AIU). They were an online school, and back then it was online learning was still fairly novel. I’d enrolled in a couple of courses, and in the middle of the semester, I PCS’d to Camp Casey, Korea.

Because of the move, I ended up failing one of my classes because I missed the final exam. I was using the Army’s tuition assistance program at the time, and the Army recouped the money from my paycheck over a twelve-month period.

At the same time, AIU contacted me and wanted to recoup the money as well. I faxed them a statement from the Camp Casey education center stating that I did not owe the school money because the Army had already taken measures to recoup the tuition they paid for. Done, right?

Wrong. Every couple of years, even as recent as 2018, AIU tries to collect the money from me via debt collectors. I send them all the statements I’ve collected from various education centers, all of them indicating that I am not liable for the tuition. When I call them and show them, again, that I already paid the Army back, they tell me again that it was a “mistake” in their system.

Forward Progress

While I haven’t suffered financially as a result of AIU, there are certainly students out there who have. The new legislation from Maryland is a promising step forward, ensuring that there is accountability in the for-profit education sector.

It is my hope that the rest of the states in our great union will follow Maryland’s lead and protect their veteran students.

(Image by succo from Pixabay)

 

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Psychology Scholarships List

Find College Scholarships For Psychology

There are many different ways you can go after getting your degree in Psychology, from getting your master’s to your doctorate and more. Here is a list of scholarships for those majoring in Psychology or going into the field in some way.

Predoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Fellowship (MHSAS)

Multiple recipients, Amount varies

The Details: This fellowship is to support the training of practitioners in behavioral health services and prevention. It is designed for students in clinical counseling and school psychology and other psychology doctoral students whose training prepares them for careers in behavioral health services. To be eligible, the student must have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services or policy. They also will need to sign a letter of commitment that they will work for a period of two years in a capacity that addresses the behavioral health needs of racial and ethnic minority populations. They also need to be enrolled in a full-time, APA-accredited doctoral program.

The Deadline: January

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

Lullelia W. Harrison Scholarship

Multiple recipients, Between $500-$1,000

The Details: This scholarship is provided by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority National Educational Foundation. It is for graduate or undergraduate level students enrolled in a degree program in counseling. Students need to be enrolled full-time.

The Deadline: February 1st

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: PDF

John and Polly Sparks Early Career Grant for Psychologists Investigating Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED)

Three recipients of up to $22,000 and one of up to $19,000

The Details: These grants are for research in the area of early intervention and treatment for serious emotional disturbance in children. Recipients must be an early career psychologists, with no more than 10 years post-doctoral with a degree from an accredited university.

The Deadline: April

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

JED’s Student Voice of Mental Health Award

One recipient, $3,000

The Details: This scholarship is for an undergraduate college student who is doing outstanding work on their campus to raise awareness for mental health issues, reduce prejudice around mental illness, and encourage help-seeking among their peers. The winner will receive $3,000, a trip to New York to accept the award at JED’s Annual Gala, and recognition on JED’s website and social channels.

The Deadline: The Spring

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

Elk River College Scholarship Program

One recipient, $500

The Details: This scholarship is awarded by the Elk River Teen Treatment Program to college juniors, seniors, and graduate students who are pursuing careers in counseling, psychology, sociology, social work, and other related fields. Students need to be enrolled full-time at accredited colleges or universities.

The Deadline: Students can apply during the year.

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

Stephen Mitchell Award

One recipient, $500 award, $500 for expenses

The Details: This award is by Psychoanalytic Psychology and the Board of the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology. They will offer a cash prize of $500, and $500 to cover expenses to attend and present at the Division Spring Meeting. The winner will also have a publication in Psychoanalytic Psychology. This award is for all current graduate students and graduates who have received their degree within the last three years.

The Deadline: October 1st

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship

Multiple recipients, $25,000 fellowships

The Details: This fellowship is for graduate students in child psychology. Eligibility requirements are to have completed doctoral candidacy at the time of application, have demonstrated research competence and area commitment, and have IRB approval that must be received from the host institution.

The Deadline: November 15th

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant

One recipient, Up to $7,500

The Details: This grant is to support innovative basic and clinical research on anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Students must be a graduate student or early-career researcher, no more than 10 years post-doctoral, and be affiliated with nonprofit charitable educational and scientific institutions or government entitles operating exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. They will need to have knowledge of anxiety and anxiety research.

The Deadline: September 15th

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

Psi Chi Undergraduate Scholarships

Eight recipients, $3,000 each

The Details: This scholarship is by Psi Chi. Psi Chi is a nationally recognized honor society for psychology students. This scholarship is to help defray the direct educational costs (e.g., tuition, institutional fees, required textbooks) of exceptional Psi Chi undergraduate students.

The Deadline: July 5th

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

AP-LS Award for Best Undergraduate Paper

Multiple recipients, $150-$500

The Details: This scholarship recognizes an outstanding undergraduate research paper that is focused on the interdisciplinary study of psychology and law. Students must be the major contributor to a project on a topic relevant to psychology and law. There will be a 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place winner.

The Deadline: June

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

We also have scholarships specifically for veterans, military spouses, and military children at CollegeRecon. Make sure to check those out as well.

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Education Savings Act for Military Families

Did you know that by the time most military children complete secondary school, they will have switched schools between six to nine times? According to the DoDEA, this is true, and it is three times more frequently than non-military families. You can probably relate to this with your own military children.

This Education Savings Act Would Help Military Families

Because of this, there can be a lot of stress on military families when it comes to their children’s education. From having to leave a good school district in the middle of the year to struggling socially and academically because the environment, as well as standards, are different from where they were stationed before.

A survey of Military Times readers, from January 12-24, 2017, sponsored by the Collaborative for Student Success, polled over 200 respondents from all branches of the US military. In the survey, they found that over a third of the members of the US military have dissatisfaction with their children’s education and that it is a big factor in leaving the service. So beyond quality of life, this is also a military retention issue.

The Education Savings Account Act For Military Families

What can be done to help military families with this? Is there anything that can make these transitions a little easier? The Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 can. But it has been sitting in committee since March.

If this bill is passed, things could change for the better. This bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  The bill would allow parents of eligible military dependent children to establish military education savings accounts.

Military families could apply for up to $6,000 for each eligible military dependent child covered by the account through the Department of Education. This money could then be used on their child’s education. It could be used for the following:

  • Private school
  • Homeschooling
  • Tutoring
  • College-prep classes
  • Online courses

Basically, anything that could help keep their child’s education on track no matter where they have to go or be stationed. No matter how often they have to move and start over somewhere else.

The Choice Act

There is also the CHOICE Act, which is sponsored by Senator Tim Scott, R-SC. The CHOICE Act expands options for the approximately 200,000 children that live on domestic military installations.

The Choice Act would create a pilot program under the Department of Defense.  The program would be on at least 5 bases without DoD Education Activity schools.  The program would provide scholarships to students in military families on base.  Scholarship amounts would be up to $8,000 for elementary and $12,000 for high school.

However, this one is also in Committee. This act would allocate $10 million per year, vs the $1.2 billion for the Education Savings Act. Both acts would be funded through the Department of Education.

Although military children are a smaller demographic, they face a lot of challenges. By the time a child starts 7th grade, they could be on their 9th school. They could have had a range of educational experiences: a private school in New York state, a DONSA school in Germany, or a public school in Georgia.

Most parents want the best for their children when it comes to their education. However, military life can make this difficult. Sometimes you are left with only a few options, or options you wouldn’t want to send your kids to. Some families would benefit from homeschooling.  It makes moving, especially short term moves, a little easier on the kids. Other families can use private school or online options to help keep their kids on track.

This proposed legislation can help military families with these issues. They can give us more flexibility with our children’s education and allow them to stay grounded and more stable.  All this despite all the moving the military lifestyle requires.

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In-state Tuition for Military Veteran Children & Dependents

As a member of the military, you know you receive certain educational benefits for yourself and your family. Moving so often means you are changing states and locations and this could end up being an issue as your children reach college age. Where do they qualify for in-state tuition? What if you move to a new state in the middle of their college years? Are there any benefits for military children when it comes to this?

Where Military Dependents Receive In-State Tuition

The good news is, your military children getting ready to go to college do have some options, even more than civilian kids do when it comes to paying in-state tuition rates. You could say that military children are at an advantage here.

The first thing to keep in mind is that a student’s residence does depend on their parents. If any parent of a college-age student is a resident of Virginia, their kids could go to schools in Virginia and pay the in-state tuition. If a civilian family then moved to Florida, it would take a year for them to establish residency in the new state. Their children couldn’t just start at a college in Florida and then start paying in-state tuition right away.

Different Qualifications For Military Families

For military families, this is a bit different. Military students are not only eligible for in-state tuition where they have been living with their parents but also where their active duty parent’s state of legal residence or domicile is. Different states do have different requirements so that is also something to keep in mind.

Because of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, states need to offer in-state tuition to military family members who live in the state due to their active duty military service. This means that for any active duty service member, his or her spouse and dependents at any public college or university where they are stationed for 30+ days should be able to receive the in-state tuition rate. States do need to accept certain types of federal funding for this to qualify.

What if Military Parent is Then Stationed Somewhere Else?

Military family members can then continue using the in-state tuition rate as long as they are continuously enrolled in the school, even if their mom or dad gets stationed somewhere else. That means that if a child starts college in Virginia, getting the in-state tuition because their dad is stationed there, they can stay at that college with the in-state tuition even if dad gets stationed in another state during their college years. They could also transfer to a school in the same state that their parents move to and qualify for in-state there, instead of having to wait.

This gives the military child options and avoids the worry that a parent could get orders during their college years, making college more expensive to pay for. This also allows a military child to think about going to school in their parent’s home of record, which could be closer to other family members or even where the parents plan to end up after military life is over.

In addition to all of this, some schools offer in-state tuition to those who are using a transferred GI Bill. So, even if your child can’t receive in-state tuition somewhere, they might be able to do this if you have transferred your GI Bill to them.

Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

In 2014, Congress enacted the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The Choice Act as it is called, made it so that in order to remain approved for VA’s GI Bill programs, schools have to charge in-state tuition and fees to covered individuals.

Covered Individuals Under the Choice Act

A covered individual Under the Choice Act would be:

  • A veteran who lives in the state where the Institution of Higher Learning (IHL) is located (regardless of his/her formal state of residence) and enrolls in the school within 3 years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
  • An individual using transferred benefits who lives in the state where the IHL is located (regardless of his/her formal state of residence) and enrolls in the school within 3 years of the transferor’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
  • Anyone described above while he or she remains continuously enrolled (other than during regularly scheduled breaks between courses, semesters, or terms) at the same school. The person so described must have enrolled in the school prior to the expiration of the 3 year period following discharge or release as described above and must be using educational benefits under either chapter 30 or chapter 33, of title 38, United States Code.
  • Anyone using transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits who lives in the state where the IHL is located and the transferor is a member of the uniformed service who is serving on active duty.
  • Anyone using benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship who lives in the state where the IHL is located (regardless of his/her formal state of residence).

Some schools could also have additional requirements when it comes to who qualifies for in-state tuition and others might grant that rate to any current or former military member, regardless of if they are considered a “covered individual” or not.

It’s always important to know what the state your children want to go to college in offers, and what the school itself offers. There are also states that offer free tuition to veterans and their dependents so make sure to look into those when starting your child’s college search.

 

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Military Spouse’s College Guide to Going Back to School

Going back to college can be the right choice for a lot of military spouses, but there is a lot of information out there and you can become a little overwhelmed. Here is a military spouse’s guide to going back to school to help you on your way.

As a military spouse, you may have had to put your own career on hold. You got married to your service member, and found yourself far from home. A few years have gone by and your children are a little older.  Now you’re ready to figure out what you want to do.

Military Spouse’s Guide to Going Back To School

Here’s CollegeRecon’s helpful guide to determine if you should go back to school, what to study and the different ways you can pay for it.

Figure Out If Now Is The Time

You need to ask yourself if now is the time to go to school. Are you about to PCS somewhere new? Will you be going overseas in the near future? Will your service member be deployed sometime soon? There are a lot of factors that can go into your decision.

While a PCS or a deployment shouldn’t stop you from starting school, there are factors that can influence if now is the right time. If you want to start a nursing program but know you will PCS across the country in a year, you won’t be able to finish the program unless you stay behind. PCSing to Germany? Your options for school can be limited.

If you are really interested in going to school and it doesn’t feel like the right time, things can change and in a few months or even a few years, it might just be the right time to go. Doing research on what you want to do may still be a smart idea so you can form some type of a plan for your future.

Figure Out What You Want To Do

You also need to figure out what you want to do. Is there a particular career path you want to follow, or do you want to work on getting a degree, and are not sure what type yet? If you are starting college for the first time, you have time to figure out what you want to do as you work on your general education requirements.

When you are trying to figure out what direction to go in, think about what has interested you in the past. Can you see yourself as a nurse, or a teacher, or working with animals in some way? What school subjects have always interested you? Were you more a fan of science or writing? Did you struggle in math or did it come easy to you? Asking yourself these questions can help you figure out what you want to do.

Pick Your Program

Once you know what you want to do, you are going to have to figure out what program you will pursue to get that degree. For example, if you want to be a nurse, you will need to decide if you want to get your LPN, RN, BSN, or even a master’s. There are many different options. You would also need to decide where you are going to go to nursing school, and where to get your prerequisites done at.

There are certain certificate programs you could complete in a couple of months. Getting your associate’s degree will take you about two years if you go full-time and it will take you four years to earn your bachelor’s degree if you go full-time.

A master’s degree can be done in about a year but that depends on the program. For military spouses, taking on a longer program can be a risky thing to do because you don’t know how long you will be living in your current location.

Benefits of Going To School Online

Another option for military spouses is to attend school online. There are many benefits to going this route as then you can continue school if you move, or do school work around your children’s and service members’ schedules. There is a lot more flexibility in going to school online but it might not be a good option for every major.

Even if there isn’t a college or university in your exact area, you might be able to attend classes on your military post. Many schools offer this and can make for an easier road to getting your education when you are a military spouse. Check with your local education center to see what they offer there.

How Will You Pay

One of the biggest questions about going back to school is how you are going to pay for your schooling. As a military spouse, you do have some options:

MYCAA

MYCAA stands for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship and with this program, you would be able to receive $4,000 towards your education. This might be able to pay for an entire certificate program or get you started with your education.

In order to qualify you will need to be a spouse of an active duty service member with a rank of E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, O-1 to O-2, have completed high school, and your spouse needs to be on Title 10 orders. National guard and reserves spouses in these pay grades are also eligible while their spouse is on active duty.

MYCAA will pay for your tuition for associate’s degrees (excluding general studies, liberal arts, and interdisciplinary studies without a concentration,) obtaining a license, obtaining a certificate or certification, an approved testing organization that expands employment, or portable career opportunities for military spouses. MYCAA does not pay for bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Here is more information on MYCAA.

Scholarships for Military Spouses

Did you know there are scholarships just for military spouses? Winning a scholarship is a great way to pay for school. Some may be based on merit or financial need.  Others are based on an essay, or even on the fact that you are a military spouse.

It would be a good idea to research what scholarships you can apply for and start filling out the applications. Be aware of when the application is due and if you missed a deadline.  Make sure to keep an eye out for that scholarship the next year.

Here is a list of military spouse scholarships you can apply for:

FAFSA

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. With FAFSA you can find money for college with federal grants you don’t have to repay, work-study, and loans. You can apply for free and can do so online. Applying for FAFSA is a good idea even if you are going to be using money from other sources.

Here is more information on FAFSA.

Student Loans

Student loans are money for college that you will eventually have to pay back. The good news is that student loans typically have a lower interest rate. Additionally, you don’t have to start paying them until you are done with school.

Federal loans have a grace period of six months after you graduate. This gives you some time to look for a job before you have to start paying.

Through FAFSA you can qualify for Federal student loans.  Other options you can also go with are student loans through banks or other private companies. They can be a good idea if you have already filled out your FAFSA but still need additional funds.

Here is information on student loans for military spouses.

Transferring the Post 9/11 GI Bill

If your spouse is not going to use any or a portion of their Post 9/11 GI Bill, it can be transferred to you. That way, you can use it for your own schooling.

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You can use the GI Bill on almost anything a veteran can to include:

  • College-degree programs
  • Vocational/technical
  • On-the-job/apprenticeship training
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • National testing programs
  • Flight training

As a spouse with a transferred GI Bill, you can start to use the benefit immediately.  You may use the benefit while your spouse is actively serving or after separation.

You are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance or books and supplies stipend while your service member is serving.  However, you are eligible for the monthly housing allowance after your service member has separated.  You can use the GI Bill for up to 15 years after your spouse separates from active duty.

Please note that there will also be some changes to transferring a GI Bill in July of this year that you should be aware of.

Here is more information on transferring a GI Bill.

Making the decision to go back to school is a smart decision for many military spouses. If there is something you want to do, don’t be afraid to go for it.  This applies even if your spouse is serving on active duty.

While military life can make going to school a little more difficult, it shouldn’t keep you away from doing so. There are many options to getting your degree and furthering your career.

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Scholarships To Apply For This Fall For Military and Veterans

With school starting again soon, you might be worried that it is too late to apply for scholarships. The truth is, there are quite a few you can apply for this fall. Here is a list of scholarships for military, veterans and their families for Fall 2019.

Scholarships For Fall 2019

These scholarships are not just open to the military community.  They may still be of interest to those within the military community though.

These scholarships have due dates coming up in the next few weeks or months.  These require submission in Fall 2019.

The Bellhops $10,000 “Moving Forward” Scholarship Contest

$10,000, One Recipient

The Details: This scholarship is for either a current college student or an incoming freshman, to complete their education. They must be enrolled or planning to enroll at an accredited undergraduate college or university in 2019. They also must have a GPA of 3.0 or more and will need to write an essay that explains the importance of their major and how they plan to use it to make an impact.

The Deadline: September 15, 2019 by 11:59 pm EST, Winner will be announced September 25th, 2019.

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.getbellhops.com/scholarship/

Don’t Text and Drive Scholarship

$1,000, One Recipient

The Details: This scholarship is for high school freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors or current or entering college or graduate school students of any level. There is no age limit and homeschool students also qualify. They must be a US citizen or legal resident.

They will need to complete the application form on the website to include a 140-character message about texting while driving. The top 10 applicants will be selected as finalists. Then, the finalists will be asked to write a full length 500-1,000 word essay about texting while driving.

The Deadline: September 30th, 2019 to coincide with September’s No Texting While Driving Day.

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Website

The Annual Votacall Innovate | Communicate College Scholarship Essay Contest

$2,000, One Recipient

The Details: This scholarship is for students who are currently enrolled in or planning to attend an accredited US college or university during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Applicants must submit an essay addressing a technology-related topic provided by Votacall. In 2019, the essay question will be about technology and healthcare.

The Deadline: September 15th, 2019, the winner will be decided by December 15th, 2019.

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: http://www.votacall.com/scholarship

Global Teletherapy 2019 Academic Excellence Award

$1,000, One Recipient

The Details: This scholarship is for any current college or graduate school student who understands what it means to accept responsibility to improve his or her community. Students must be enrolled in a college, university, or graduate school during the 2019-2020 academic year. They need to be in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or higher. They will also need permission from his or her parents or legal guardian.

Students will need to write a 2,000 word essay on how to better oneself.

The Deadline: October 3, 2019

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://globalteletherapy.com/scholarship/

Build U. Scholarship
$2,500 per semester, One Recipient

The Details: To apply for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate degree program in the United States and Canada, majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM.) They must be 18 years old at the time of submission and in good academic standing with their college or university. They can not accept high school students no matter their age.

To apply for this scholarship, the student will need to talk about a company they admire that exemplifies any of these values: focuses on customers first, helpful and supportive, communicates openly and honestly, are nimble and flexible, takes initiative and work hard, and are passionate and have fun. The essay will need to be less than 1,000 words. In addition to the essay, students will need to submit a short video in response to, “What Would the Build U Scholarship Mean For Your Education?”

The Deadline: In October, for the fall semester

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.buildium.com/buildiums-build-u-scholarship/

Make Me Laugh Scholarship

$1,500, One Recipient

The Details: For this scholarship, the student needs to be at least 13 years of age or older, and a legal resident of one of the 50 states or Washington DC. They also must be currently enrolled or enrolled no later than the fall of 2025 in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher education.

They would need to submit an online written response to “OMG… finding and applying for scholarships is serious business, but it’s time to lighten things up a little. We don’t want to know why you deserve $1,500 or how great your grades are, we simply want to LOL. Describe an incident in your life, funny or embarrassing (fact or fiction), and make us laugh!” The response needs to be in 250 words or less.

The Deadline: August 31st, 2019, they should be notified around November 30th, 2019

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.unigo.com/scholarships/our-scholarships/make-me-laugh-scholarship

Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship

$1250 for Undergraduates, Three Recipients, $1750 for Graduates, Two Recipients

The Details: This scholarship is for undergraduate and graduate students who are a current member of SHAPE America, or they can become one at the time of application. They also need to be majoring in the field of health, physical education, recreation, or dance. For undergraduate applicants, they need to be in their junior or senior year at a baccalaureate granting college or university. For graduates, they need to be enrolled in a matriculated full-time masters or doctoral program. They will need to have a GPA of at least 3.5.

The criteria for this scholarship will be based on scholastic proficiency, evidence of leadership, school, community, and professional activity/service, and character attributes.

Winners will also be given a complimentary 3-year SHAPE America membership.

The Deadline: October 15th

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.shapeamerica.org/scholarships/abernathyscholarship.aspx

Military Affiliated Scholarships

These scholarships are specifically for military-affiliated individuals.  They also have due dates coming up for Fall 2019.

VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship
$5,000

The Details: This scholarship provides service members and veterans with the financial assistance they need to complete their educational goals. The scholarships are up to $5,000 and limited to one per family per semester.  The scholarships can only be used for tuition and fees. The money will be sent straight to the accredited school.

Applicants must be a citizen, be retried, have an honorable discharge, be active duty, or a member of the national guard or reserves. They must have completed Basic Training and any follow-up training. They also must have separated with or currently hold the military rank of E-5 or below, demonstrate a need for financial assistance, and be participating in, accepted to, or currently enrolled in a VA-approved program or school at an accredited post-secondary institution.

The Deadline: Applications are accepted between August 1st through November 15th for the spring semester. The awards will be given out in January.

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.vfw.org/scholarship/

America’s Gold Star Families Scholarship

$1,000

The Details: This scholarship is available to Illinois family members who have lost a loved one in service to the US. This is a non-renewable scholarship to be used at a college/university, junior college, or trade/vocational school.

To apply, students will need to maintain a C+ average. They will need to write a paragraph stating what they did in school and where they see themselves in the future. The check will be made out to the school.

The Deadline: September 15th, 2019

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://www.americasgoldstarfamilies.org/what-we-do/

National Military Family Association Scholarship

$500-$1,000

The Details: This scholarship is for military spouses of:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Public Health Service service members

Their service member will need to be a Post-9/11 service member that is either:

  • Active duty
  • Retiree
  • 100% disabled veteran
  • In the National Guard
  • Reserves
  • Fallen service member

20/20/20 spouses can also apply as well. They do have to be eligible to have a valid military/uniformed services ID.

This scholarship has a rolling application, so it is open year-round. However, 2019 applications end on September 30th, 2019. While 2020 applications will open October 1st, 2019. They do recommend that applicants wait until they are accepted and enrolled in a school before they apply.

The applicants will be picked based on their short answers and essay responses. The funds can be used for tuition, course or lab fees, program costs, program fees of exam costs/fees. The funds can be used for college courses or professional expenses.  Expenses such as licensure/certification, CEUs professional examinations, and other related fees. Reimbursement is possible for career or professional expenses and it can be renewed each year.

The Deadline: Ongoing

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: https://scholarships.militaryfamily.org/military-spouse-scholarship-faqs/

Scholarships for the Military Community

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Bill Would Erase Student Loans for 100% Disabled Veterans

Student debt has been in the news a lot recently and a new bill has been proposed to automatically erase student loan debt for veterans who are “totally and permanently” disabled.

US senators, Jack Reed (D-RI,) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA,) have introduced S.2049, a bill that would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Erase Student Loan Debt for Disabled Veterans Automatically

This bill was introduced on June 28, 2019, and is in the first stage of the legislation process. The bill now needs to be considered by committee before it can be sent on to the House or Senate as a whole.

What is the current law?

Under current law, veterans who are “totally and permanently” disabled are entitled to have their student loan debt canceled, however many do not even know about this benefit or take the steps to receive it.

In 2018, the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a data matching program where the VA would disclose data to the Department of Education concerning veterans who are 100% disabled or who are unemployable. The Department of Education planned to alert these veterans that there is an opportunity to apply for debt relief.

Problems are awareness and red tape

The problem is, the Department of Education reported that 40,000 veterans had been identified as eligible for loan forgiveness through the matching program. However, fewer than half have submitted the required paperwork and haven’t had their loans forgiven.

Some disabled veterans defaulting on student loans as a result

Many veterans were even in default of their student loans. This is a big issue because defaulting on your student loans isn’t good for your financial future, and can lead to other problems.  This is especially troubling since there is a way to have the loans erased.

What will this new bill do?

This bill will help fix this issue by making it so those who identify as qualifying for the debt relief will have their loans automatically discharged.

With this legislation, the departments will need to conduct a computer matching program of those veterans with student loans and with a total disability rating or who are unemployable, at least twice a year.

Next, the departments will need to work together to address any minor discrepancies to make sure that no veterans will fall through the cracks because of a clerical error. The borrower should also be able to opt-out if the department has identified a potential state tax liability, which could be an issue.

Senators’ comments on the new bill

Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has said that, “Veterans who have become disabled during their service to our nation should have their student loans forgiven without delay and without cumbersome red tape. Our bill will require the Department of Education to automatically discharge student loans for eligible individuals and help to ensure that no veteran falls through the cracks due to a clerical error.  I’m pleased at the support we’ve received from numerous veterans organizations and I urge our colleagues to join us in pressing for swift passage of this bill to provide this overdue assistance for the courageous service members who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”

In addition, Senator Isakson, a member of the committee that oversees federal education matters and chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has said, “This is a commonsense way to make it easier for totally and permanently disabled veterans to receive the student loan relief they deserve, and I hope that we’re able to act quickly on it,”

This bill has the support of numerous veterans organizations and would be a great way to support disabled veterans and help them out financially.

 

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