So, you’d like to attend College, and you plan to use your GI-Bill? College Veteran Services representatives can help you navigate the application, enrollment and registration process to help you meet your academic and career goals. They can also put you in touch with the right resources at the college, as well and in your community. Veteran Services departments are usually located in Advising, Admissions, Financial Aid or the Registrar’s Office.
1. Apply for VA Benefits Early
It can take 6-8 weeks or longer for VA Benefits to be processed. This site helps you review and compare your benefit options. Ask the VA Advisor at your college campus for assistance if you have questions while applying. You’ll need your bank routing numbers and DD-214 to complete your VONAPP.
Remember, the VA operates on Eastern Standard Time, so call early in order to beat the rush of callers. Depending on the volume of calls, the VA might schedule a call back time to return your call. You may also email your question. Just type ‘ask a question’ in the search box.
2. Understand the Enrollment Process for Veterans
Visit the Veteran page on your preferred college’s website for the step-by-step application, registration and enrollment process. You can see ours here. Your Veteran Services representative will take you through the application process for that college, as well as for the VA. Your Veteran rep can even assist you with Academic Advising, if they are located in the Advising department. If not, you will need to seek advising for your particular program and get approval/certification from Veteran Services.
Most colleges list required documentation for each chapter of the military on their website. Make an appointment to meet with your Veteran Services Representative, who will walk you through the process. It is imperative that you meet with Veteran Services at your campus each semester, either by phone, email or in person, to make sure you are in compliance with VA regulations. This is especially important for Post 9-11 GI Bill students, as veteran payment holds are dependent upon compliance, and you don’t want your classes to be dropped!
3. Apply for Financial Aid/Tuition Assistance
Veteran Students are encouraged to apply for federal financial aid in addition to the GI Bill. The free application (FAFSA) can be submitted online using your school’s code. Financial aid is especially helpful for veteran students whose GI Bill benefits are still processing at payment deadline. Reservists are encouraged to apply for tuition assistance from the branch of the military for which they are currently serving. Tuition assistance contact information can usually be found on the college website, or ask at Veteran Services.
4. Connect with other veteran students at your campus and in your community
Check with your Veteran rep and fellow veteran students for veteran club and related information. To quote a current student, “Everything you need to know can be found on the veteran board, in the classroom or at your Veteran’s office!” All of our campuses at FRCC have services set up for veteran students, from open houses to transfer opportunities to special events. You will also find valuable community resources at your campus.
5. Explore career options early
Generally, VA benefits last 36 months, while a bachelor’s degree takes at least 48. So, your academic career can last longer than your VA benefits! Explore your career options early to get on the right path for you. All our FRCC campuses have a career office to help you match your interests, aptitudes and talents with specific majors and career options. We highly encourage new veteran students to do career exploration in their first or second semester. Contact the Advising and Career Services office at your college.
6. Transitioning from the military to the classroom is an exciting and challenging experience
Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be challenging. Add academics to the mix, and it can become downright overwhelming. Faculty is knowledgeable and appreciative of the challenges some veteran students face in the classroom. By law, all colleges offer accommodations for students with disabilities and can assist you in connecting with your instructors to get the assistance you need. Contact Disability Services at your campus. Some colleges also offer short-term crisis counseling. Your Veteran rep can connect you with the services and resources to meet your needs.
All of us in Veteran Services invite you to review these tips and get involved. We want to assist you with getting the logistics handled and focus on doing well in your classes and transferring on to a University, or working in your field. We value the experience and impact that veteran students have on our campuses and in our classrooms, and have put staff and resources in place to exclusively assist you with all your academic and career goals.
What did I miss? What advice do you have for veterans returning to college?