The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill allows veterans to pursue an education after their service, providing financial assistance for those who want to purse graduate and undergraduate degrees, as well as vocational training or licensing training. It's important to consider the terms and requirements of G.I. Bill benefits when making decisions about education programs and degrees. The G.I. Bill covers all resident tuition and fees for public schools and up to $17,500 per year for private schools. Another source of funding for veterans is the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides school-sponsored grants and tuition waivers for qualified vets. There are also a variety of scholarships and grants for veterans that are provided by charities and private organizations. For more information about veteran scholarships, visit FinAid.org. If you're a veteran who's considering your education options, your first decision should center on the level of education or training that you want to pursue. Higher education should be a top priority. A college degree now plays the same role that a high school diploma played a few decades ago; it is difficult to achieve economic prosperity without one. Your next decision should focus on the type of job you'd like to pursue when you complete your education. If you don't already have a career in mind or are wondering how you can leverage your military training in a civilian career, visit My Next Move for Vets. This U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored website is designed to help veterans explore post-service career options. The site accesses a database that contains hundreds of occupation descriptions and provides search tools that link military classifications with civilian jobs. Once you've decided on a career and education level, the next step is finding a school that's the best fit for your requirements. This step should not be taken lightly, since your choice of school can determine your future career success. The vast majority of colleges and universities will recognize that your military service represents courage, commitment and discipline, so you can aim high when it comes to choosing a school. Look for a school that matches or exceeds your expectation and will provide you with an education that will ensure your future prosperity. U.S. News & World Report publishes an annual ranking of colleges, including a ranking by program. This means that if you've decided to major in business, you can find the top business programs in the nation. You can also check the ranking of schools in your area that you may be considering. You can find out which schools accept the G.I. Bill and search for schools using a wide range of criteria on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. As you begin the application process, make sure that any school you apply for is fully accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities provide standard levels of quality. You can check on a school's accreditation status by visiting the DOE's Accreditation Database website. As a veteran, you may feel more comfortable at a school that has veteran support services. Ask schools you're considering if they have a veterans affairs office and whether they provide counseling or housing services for veterans. Also find out if you can get college credits for courses taken at other schools as well as credit for relevant military training. Since you have only 36 months of G.I. Benefits (the equivalent of 4 academic years), it's important to use your time wisely. Make sure that any credits you earn in the school of your choice can be easily transferred to other schools. If you decide to change schools before you complete your degree, be sure that you get full credit for work completed.
July 20, 2013