Many who leave the military decide to take advantage of the GI Bill and other education benefits in their post-military careers through enrollment in higher education degree or certificate programs. This transition to civilian life can be challenging, and adjusting to academic life — especially with a traumatic brain injury — can add additional challenges and stress. A major challenge for student veterans with TBI is their lack of knowledge of how to access services at college campuses, or that help is even available.
The following resources represent a sample of many resources that can help veterans with the financial aspects of transitioning from military to student life, while dealing with the symptoms of TBIs.
College Connection: This scholarship website includes a free Financial Aid Database that consists of private sector awards provided by corporations, non-profit organizations and associations that offer scholarships and grants. For information, go to www.collegescholarships.com.
CollegeScholarships.org:A searchable scholarship database that can be used to find scholarships based on many different search criteria, including: student type (for example, minority, female, disabled), sports, state of study, degree level and topic of study. For information, go to www.collegescholarships.org.
Fastweb.com: A scholarship database that matches applicants to scholarships and financial resources based on their profile. This site also provides advice on applying to college, accessing student life organizations and connecting with other students. For information, go to www.fastweb.com.
FinAid.org: A comprehensive and searchable database that offers financial aid information, advice and tools. This site also provides a list of veteran-specific scholarships. For information, go to www.finaid.org.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Through the Federal Student Aid program, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, this website provides the FAFSA along with information about application filing options and deadlines. For information, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
GI Bill: Chapter 36 Program: This VA program offers free one-on-one vocational and personal counseling to help you determine what educational and career opportunities are best suited for you. Services include counseling to help you decide between civilian or military occupations, develop a training program and overcome barriers that may affect your training or employment. For information about qualifications and how to apply, visit the VA’s GI Bill website at gibill.va.gov/support/counseling_services/index.html.
Military.com– This website connects service members, military families and veterans to a variety of benefits of service such as government benefits, scholarships, mentors and much more. For information about this free resource, go to www.military.com.
Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (Chapter 30): Enrolled active duty members pay $100 per month for 12 months and are then able to receive monthly educational benefits upon completing a minimum service obligation. More information is available at www.military.com/education/gi-bill/active-duty-gi-bill-users-guide.html.
Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606): Eligibility requires a reservist to be actively drilling and have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve. More information is available at: http://www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/montgomery_gibill/selected_reserve.html.
Post-Vietnam Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP, Chapter 32):This program provides education and training opportunities to those who contributed to the program while on active duty. Their contributions are matched on a 2-for-1 basis. For information, go to www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/other_programs/veap.html.
Post 9/11 GI Bill: The VA pays benefits to eligible veterans, reservists and active duty service members to support your continuing education goals, such as on-the-job training, apprenticeships and non-college degree programs. Learn more about the bill, how to choose a school and apply for benefits at www.gibill.va.gov.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program(REAP, Chapter 1607 of Title 10, U.S. Code): This program provides benefits to reservists who were activated in response to a war or national emergency. This allows reservists who were active for at least 90 days after Sept. 11, 2001 to be eligible for educational benefits or to receive an increase in current benefits. For information, go to www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/other_programs/reap.html.
The New GI Bill: This website is developed by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). It provides a user-friendly way to learn more about the Post 9/11 GI Bill and how to calculate benefits. For information, go to www.newgibill.org.
Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program): This is a part of the law that created the Post-9/11 GI Bill and is available for private or out-of-state public schools. This program allows approved organizations and the VA to help fund tuition and fees that are larger than what the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover. For information, go to gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/yellow_ribbon_program.html.
VR&E Chapter 31: If you have a disability rating of 20 percent or greater, you may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E, Chapter 21). For more information, go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/index.htm.