According to the latest data from the US Department of Education, only 52% of veterans have used their GI Bill benefits to fully fund their post-secondary education. Using this same data in a Pew analysis, 27% of independent * undergraduate veterans took out student loans averaging $ 8,000, $ 500 more than student loans taken out by non-former independent students. which averaged $ 7,500. So why are veterans taking out student loans?
Reasons for student loans
A few reasons are obvious. Everyone has different life circumstances that can lead to the decision to take out a student loan.
1. The right is exhausted
First, the student may have already exhausted their rights, but have not yet completed their degree. Many students start in a degree program and then move on to an entirely different program halfway. Usually, not all credits earned will be transferred to the new study plan, either in the same school or in a different school. If these non-transferable credits were paid through the GI Bill entitlement, that entitlement was wasted.
Veterans with at least three years of service are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and are allowed to be entitled to it for 36 months, which is sufficient for four 9-month academic years and an undergraduate degree. But this fee must be managed properly for the GI Bill to pay for the entire degree.
Veterans with less than three years of service still have 36 months of eligibility, but at a lower percentage of coverage. They either have to self-finance the difference out of their own pockets, use scholarships or grants, or take out student loans.
2. Undergraduate completed and now graduated
The student may have used their GI Bill benefits for an undergraduate degree and not have enough to fund their graduate degree. Or they can decide to take out a student loan to pay for the first two years of their undergraduate degree and save their right to the GI Bill to pay for the last two years of undergraduate studies and fund the more expensive two years of graduate school. .
3. Private or foreign school
Or they can attend a private or overseas school where the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays only $ 26,042.81 per year. For many schools, this is only half or less of the total bill, with the remaining difference payable by the student. Many seasoned students end up taking out student loans to pay the difference.
4. Benefits transferred
Another common reason is that the student no longer has any rights, or not enough, for their degree due to a transfer of benefits made during their service. Some soldiers at the time did not intend to use their education benefits, so they passed them on to their spouse or dependent children. But once out, things change and they decide to go to school, but no longer have the right to use.
5. Bad discharge
Another reason that has attracted more attention lately is the veterans who have “bad discharge”. This prevents them from using their GI Bill education benefits.
Get every penny of your right
If used correctly, the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays schools up to 100% of tuition and fees in public schools. Veteran students with post-9/11 GI Bill benefits receive a monthly housing allowance based on the school’s postal code; the national average is $ 1,900 per month. On top of that, they also receive up to $ 1,000 per year in book allowance.
* Note that an independent student is defined as a student who is generally an adult and is twice as likely to have dependents as students in the general population who are generally single and have no dependents.