A guide to understanding financial aid for military veterans

As military veterans return from active duty and transition to civilian life again, many are considering returning to college to earn an advanced degree to re-enter the workforce and/or advance their careers. However, returning to or starting school is not always a simple task – especially when it comes to applying for financial aid. Military veterans earn significant financial incentives for their education, but many are not aware of how to take advantage of these benefits. Some institutions, like National Louis University, also offer additional benefits to veterans, beyond those offered through the U.S. government.

Did you know that your experience in the military could earn you college credits that could help you graduate sooner, with GI Bill funding remaining that you can potentially transfer to a dependent or use with another degree or certificate? To help military veterans maximize benefits like this as they pursue a path to higher education, NLU, recently awarded the 2014 Military Friendly Schools  designation, has outlined a step-by-step process to help navigate any uncertainty in applying for university financial assistance.

  1. As mentioned, military veteran students might be eligible to receive academic credit for their military service. In order to maximize the use of your GI Bill, obtain military transcripts from your respective branch of service (prospective undergraduate students only).
  2. Complete the appropriate Veterans Affairs (VA) form.
  3. If veteran applicants never have used the GI Bill, which refers to any VA education benefit earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families, use form 22-1990, dependents use 22-5490 (Find form).
  4. If veterans have used their GI Bill elsewhere and wish to transfer, complete form 22-1995, dependents use 22-5495 (Find form).
  5. Make a copy of the completed form and send it to the future university’s Certifying Official.
  6. Provide a certificate of eligibility (COE) from the VA to the school’s certifying official. To note, the COE is a required document. However, as a student, you might not have the COE if it is your first time applying for VA educational benefits. If you apply for benefits in advance, you will receive a COE in the mail. If you apply for benefits at the same time as you begin classes, the VA will match your application for benefits with the certification sent by the school. You then receive an award letter from the VA, which outlines how many months of eligibility you have remaining.
  7. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as veterans might be eligible for federal or state grants and student loans that can assist with tuition and other educational costs.
    NOTE: Even if you are covered at 100 percent under the GI Bill, you still are eligible for Federal Financial Aid
  8. Contact the academic advisor to register for classes.*
  9. Consider joining the University’s student veteran organization, if they have one. Click here to learn more about National Louis University’s Student Veterans of America Chapter.

*A step that is specific to NLU and might vary at other universities.

Veterans’ enrollment, tuition and fees will be reported to the VA every term, unless they specifically request not to be certified. Military Veteran students should receive an award letter from the VA in the mail every term, which they should provide a copy of to their school’s certifying official.

NLU has a dedicated Veterans Program that helps veterans smoothly transfer from the military to academia — and eventually to a career in the civilian workplace. Among its many offerings, the program provides military students with a dedicated central point of contact to help them navigate financial aid, credit hours for military service, curriculum advising and academic support, as well as career development services. The University also partners with community organizations that specialize in mental health/social service support, physical and spiritual health, etc. to support veterans returning to earn their degree.

National Louis is proud to serve the educational needs of veterans, service members and their dependents. Our services are designed to simplify your transition into higher education and onward to a productive and meaningful career. To learn more about tuition assistance programs offered to the military community attending NLU, click here.

For more information about using veterans benefits and discounts at NLU specifically, contact Pauline DeGrazia, VA Certifying Official, at VAstudents@nl.edu or visit the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the Web site.