If you’re a veteran or active duty military service member, you could be eligible for benefits to help pay for college. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits offer GI Bills that cover tuition, and the Department of Defense provides the Tuition Assistance Program.
If you’re considering a degree program at UNC Greensboro, the Military-Affiliated Services Office can help you navigate the process.
Online Option for Military Students
In fall 2018, UNCG had 1,416 military-affiliated students, including spouses and dependents. While most are typically separated veterans, UNCG does see active military students. Online programs can be a feasible option for deployment, offering flexibility through convenient schedules and asynchronous courses.
“If you get deployed to an area with a pretty substantial Internet infrastructure in place, you shouldn't have trouble meeting your deadlines.” says Brad Wrenn, director of Military-Affiliated Services. “That said, if you end up not being able to be successful in your classes due to a deployment, we can help you navigate the military withdrawal process.”
Tuition Assistance Covers Online Programs
One way students can receive help with tuition costs for online programs is through Tuition Assistance. The program provides financial assistance to service members for courses that meet the requirements of an approved academic degree or certificate program. UNCG’s online programs fall below the monetary cap for Tuition Assistance, and a student’s military branch will repay him or her for any coursework taken.
“If a student is using Tuition Assistance, then they often don’t have to touch their VA benefits,” Wrenn says.
Types of GI Bills
Other types of benefits include VA GI Bills, which help qualifying military-affiliated students pay tuition for undergraduate, graduate, or training programs.
Three GI Bills UNCG students may be eligible for are:
- Chapter 30 — Montgomery GI Bill: Those enlisted or commissioned prior to 9/11 would qualify. Includes 36 monthly payments directly to the student to help offset the cost of attending college.
- Chapter 35 — Dependent Education Assistance Program (DEAP): Dependents of service members who are deceased or permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected condition would qualify. Includes monthly payments directly to the student to help offset the cost of attending college.
- Chapter 33 — Post 9/11 GI Bill: Must have served at least 90 days active duty post 9/11 or have benefits transferred to them by a sponsor. Benefits include tuition and fees paid directly to the school, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for books and supplies.
See If You’re Eligible
Students check their eligibility for GI Bills and apply for benefits through the VA, which provides a certificate of eligibility that tells their chapter, eligibility percentage, and the number of months that they are allotted.
“In most cases, the VA will only pay for courses that are working towards your degree,” Wrenn says. “They won’t pay for just any elective courses unless those elective courses are required for your graduation.”
Once schedules are finalized and coursework is certified by university officials, the VA should begin paying the student’s fees.
Apply for Scholarships
Students who receive VA education benefits are eligible to apply for scholarships, loans, and grants. All students should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) regardless of VA benefits, Wrenn says.
For some GI Bill chapters, students may not be able to use Tuition Assistance and their VA benefits at the same time to cover the same courses. However, this rule is different for each chapter, so if students have questions about using Tuition Assistance and VA benefits, they should contact the Military-Affiliated Services Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Military Friendly Reputation
UNCG has been consistently ranked as a Military Friendly School and is one of only a few UNC System institutions to be recognized with the Gold Award distinction by VIQTORY.
“If the students look to those publications to choose a program, then they would see our university listed fairly high in the rankings, particularly for a school that’s not co-located with a base,” Wrenn says.
Having a dedicated office on campus and a single point of contact provides support to military-affiliated students.
“One of the things folks typically have trouble with when they’re signing up for classes is the administrative stuff, how to get their benefits set up, how to set their tuition assistance up, and who to talk to about any questions or issues they have,” Wrenn says.
UNCG offers resources specific to military-affiliated students as well as those studying online. Military-Affiliated Services assists students with administrative issues, such as switching GI Bills or putting students in touch with the VA when necessary.
“We shy away from actually saying, ‘You’re eligible for this type of benefit,’ because at the end of the day it’s the VA’s call as to whether or not they’re going to receive it,” Wrenn says.
UNCG Online faculty and staff help students with academic issues, such as questions about coursework.
Students also have access to campus resources such as the Career Services Center, Library Resources, Counseling Center, Student Success Center, the Writing Center, and Math Help Center.
Want to Know More?
Learn more about military and veteran services here.
Photo by Benjamin Faust