How The "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill" Can Help Fund Your Education
The Post 9/11 G.I Bill is one of the Federal Government’s student aid programs aimed at funding the educational needs of military service members. The benefits of this program depend upon the duration of serving in the military and can be availed by both active and retired servicemen.
What Is The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill?
As per this bill, servicemen who have been active in the service for 90 days or more can accept the benefits of educational aid. The members who have remained active in the service for 36 months or more are entitled to get 100% benefit of the bill. Those still on active duty will be able to benefit the most from this program. Any active or retired servicemen who joined duty on or after 9/11 (September 11, 2001) are eligible for this program.
In order to qualify for this educational fund, students must be enrolled in any recognized program. The benefits are equal to the cost of the program, with the exception that the amount may not increase the maximum amount charged by universities for in-state undergraduate programs.
In some cases, eligible students will receive the coverage for tuition costs and the additional funds to cover expenses of housing, supplies, and books. Some students will also be eligible for relocation payments. These benefits can also be transferred to the service holder’s spouse and children. Eligibility for this program expires at the end of a 15-year period from the date of release from active duty.
Interest Accrual Limits
As per the Higher Education Act, interest accrual is prohibited for eligible servicemen who are on active duty during a war, any kind of national emergency, or military mobilization. The benefit applies to servicemen with direct loans that have been disbursed on or after October 1, 2008. However, servicemen with FFEL loans have the option to consolidate it into a direct loan in order to receive this benefit.
Deferring Military Service
Deferring military service is available for Perkins, Direct, and FFEL loans. Those eligible for this benefit include military service members, members of the National Guard, and service members from the Armed Forces who are on active duty during a war, national emergency, or other military operation.
In order to use this benefit, the borrower or the representative has to fill out a deferment form and get it signed by the authorized official. Alternatively, they can even present a copy of the order or a written statement from the commanding officer proving that the applicant was serving on active duty.
Military deferments don’t have a time limit. However, the eligibility period expires after 180 days of the applicant’s demobilization from active service.
Student Deferment While On Active Duty
This deferment option is for borrowers who enrolled in school but had to join active duty. Additionally, they plan to re-enroll after they have completed their duty. Direct, perkins, and FFEL loans are covered under this program. Military service members, National Guard members, and service members from the Armed Forces who were called in to rejoin their duties within six months prior to their enrollment are eligible for the benefits.
To utilize this benefit, the borrower or the representative has to produce a deferment form duly signed by the authority. Alternatively, they can also provide a copy of the official order or a statement from their commanding officer validating that the applicant was indeed called for active duty.
Eligible borrowers can request deferments of up to 13 months after the completion of the service or after a grace period. The deferment period expires once the service member re-enrolls to the course or at the end of the 13th month.
Alternative Financial Aid Options
Here are some alternate financial aid options that you should consider:
- Grace Period - The grace period for the loan repayment can be increased to about three years
- In-School Deferment - This can be extended to three years during the service period, including the time needed to re-enroll for a new semester
- Forbearance - Borrowers are entitled to one year of forbearance without the need to provide any document
- Collection - Loan collection actions can be waived off for eligible service members if the lender is informed about their service
- Cancellation - Loans can be canceled partially or in full for eligible service members and veterans. All student loan debts are automatically discharged for veterans with total and permanent disability
- Rehabilitation - For rehabilitation, the borrower has to pay the monthly installments for nine consecutive months
- Loan Consolidation - Usually, if you miss three consecutive payments on a direct loan, your account gets marked as default. However, active duty service members are eligible for an interruption in this consecutive period
Some special provisions have been made to provide additional benefits for the borrowers who are serving during wars and emergencies.
The Post 9/11 Bill is a great educational aid program that benefits thousands of active duty and retired service members across America. Check with the VA office to see if you’re eligible for the program.