Heading back to school can be an overwhelming task for any one, no doubt. Student veterans attending colleges today have even more school responsibilities than those of their traditional classmates. This is mostly due to the fact that many veterans come home eligible for some sort of VA educational benefit. VA educational benefits provide a great opportunity to our service men and women to return to school to pursue degrees, certificates or trades, although getting these benefits and receiving money can be a process.

Transition Assistance Program

The Department of Defense requires active duty service men and women to go through a course called TAP, Transition Assistance Program, before they are released from their military contract. This is a good program; but sometimes there are still some unanswered questions pertaining to VA educational benefits when student veterans get ready to register for classes. To help veterans through this process, we’ve outlined  the steps new and potential veteran students need to take to ensure they receive their VA educational benefits.

1) Students should apply for their VA educational benefits first.

That could be the Montgomery GI Bill, or the Post 9/11 GI Bill, or even Survivors Dependent’s Assistance program. Whichever benefit the veteran is eligible for they can apply online through the VA’s website, www.eBenefits.va.gov . After veterans submit their application to VA, if approved, they will receive a letter of eligibility in the mail.

2) Apply to a college.

Student veterans can apply to FRCC here.

3) Apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Students could be eligible for free money! You can access the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov .

4) Request all official transcripts.

This includes transcripts from the military like JST or CCAF and any previously attending institution of higher learning. Transcripts should be sent directly to the school the veteran wishes to enroll in. The VA requires students to submit transcripts so failure to do so could prevent VA certification.

5) Meet with the college’s Veterans Services Advisor.

Student veterans should take their eligibility letter or certificate of eligibility (sometimes referred to a COE) to their Veterans Services Advisor or School Certifying Official. This informs the school official that the student is eligible for benefits and their schedule can be certified to the VA.

6) Register for classes.

Student veterans must notify their Advisor that they are registered and must request certification. At FRCC, we’ve designed an online certification request tool students can use to inform the Veterans Services Office that they want to use their benefits and have their schedule certified to the VA.

Veterans Services Advisors at FRCC encourage student veterans to ask questions and seek help if things seem unclear. Prepare and register early for classes so you ensure you get the best schedule possible. Enroll full time in courses that span the entire semester. Try to avoid short and condensed courses. Don’t register for remedial classes online. Make sure your transcripts and residency paperwork has been turned in. And join the veterans’ organization at your school. This could be a great opportunity to meet other student veterans and learn from each other.

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