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Will My GI Bill Benefits Affect My Eligibility for College Financial Aid?

Sep 02, 2016

Q: What impact do Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits that have been transferred from a veteran to a college-bound child have on our Expected Family Contribution? Is it mandatory to report to colleges, and will eligibility for these benefits affect the amount of aid offered to a student? —Peter, Bellevue, Wash.

A: The Post-9/11 GI Bill—enacted in 2009—is the first to allow veterans to transfer their benefits to their spouse or children if they meet certain criteria.

Veterans education benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, are considered an entitlement, much like Social Security. That means they will not affect your Expected Family Contribution on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. That includes both the tuition stipend and housing allowance that come with the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

You do not have to report GI Bill eligibility on the FAFSA, and in fact, there’s nowhere on the form to list it. Veterans and their dependents who receive their education benefits are eligible for the same menu of federal financial aid as other applicants, including need-based Pell Grants and subsidized student loans.

Derek Fronabarger, director of policy at Student Veterans of America, says colleges aren’t supposed to ask about your eligibility for GI Bill benefits, either. If they insist that you report it, Fronabarger recommends reaching out to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Note that the FAFSA does count noneducation benefits for veterans (such as Disability, Dependency & Indemnity Compensation, and/or VA Educational Work-Study allowances) as untaxed income. If either the parent or the student receives any of those, that will need to be reported on the FAFSA.

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