MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — With the recent freeze on the tuition assistance program, many Marines and Sailors aboard the air station are asking the same question, “What are my options to fund my education?”
The education office at the Jerry W. Marvel Training and Education Building hosted a seminar Tuesday and showcased several options available to Marines, Sailors and their families to help pay for college.
Options explained to those in attendance included the Post 9/11 GI Bill, TRIO, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, scholarships, grants and loans. Another program designed exclusively for dependents is the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program.
“While tuition assistance provided one avenue of funding for off-duty education, there are numerous alternatives designed to meet a variety of financial needs,” said Teresa H. Allen, educations services officer with the education office.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
In order to use this option, military members must apply for benefits online at http://www.gibill.va.gov/ or go to their local education office for assistance.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill covers tuition and fees up to the most expensive in-state undergraduate program at a public school with all funds going directly to the school. Students using the Post 9/11 GI Bill may be entitled to receive a yearly books and supplies allowance that cannot exceed $1,000 per 24-credit hour school year.
GI Bill beneficiaries may be eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing, at a rate equivalent to an E-5 with dependents living within the same zip code as your school. Active-duty military members or dependents receiving the benefit from an active-duty spouse are not eligible for BAH.
More than 90 days active-duty service after the completion of a military occupational school are required to use the GI Bill.
Although this is an option every military member can use, the education office advises people to explore other options before using this benefit.
Another option for military members looking to further their education without drowning in student loan debt is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
According to the FAFSA website, more than 15 million students receive grants, loans and work-study funds to pay for schooling each year.
To apply, go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/, and fill out the application.
If approved, the program will pay for tuition and fees and provide funding for required books and supplies.
The largest Federal Pell Grant in 2012 was $5,500 but varies based on financial status, cost of attendance, and number of credits taken.
Effective July 1, 2012, recipients may receive Pell Grants for no more than 12 semesters or the equivalent.
FAFSA offers other grants and loans in addition to Pell Grants. Last year, loans included a fixed interest rate of no more than 7.9 percent.
TRIO is a program created in the 1960’s to help cover schooling cost for low-income students already approved for the FASFA Pell Grant.
The program provides individual and group tutoring in math and English, personal, financial and academic advising, and grant aid to current participants who are receiving Pell Grant benefits.
The program can be used to earn up to a doctorate in any field of study.
The education office has many resources available to help Marines, Sailors and dependents seek options to fund their education through a variety of other scholarships, grants and loans.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts
The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program is a component of the Department of Defense’s spouse education and career opportunities program.
It is a career development and employment assistance program used to help military spouses pursue licenses, certificates, certifications and associate’s degrees.
Dependents using MyCAA are eligible to receive up to $4,000 total with an annual fiscal year cap of $2,000.
Spouses are ineligible for this program if married to a service member in pay grades E-6 and above, W-3 or above or O-3 and above. Spouses who are unable to complete courses prior to their sponsor’s end of active service or who are legally separated are ineligible.
The program pays for tuition cost for educational or technical courses and examinations excluding degrees in general studies, liberal arts or interdisciplinary studies.
For more information about any of these programs, contact the education office at 466-3500.
By Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom | Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point