We understand that making the decision to attend college can be a daunting one. What classes do I need to take, when do they start, and how can I pay for them, are just a few of the questions that many students have. And if you’re a military veteran or dependent, chances are you have another set of questions as well. In this blog we dive into helping our service members answer some of their most pressing questions about paying for college and the options available to them. The great news is that there may be more options available than you thought!

Frequently Used Benefits

Montgomery GI Bill®

The Montgomery GI Bill® (MGIB) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1984. The bill aimed to provide education benefits to active-duty military personnel who had served at least two years of active duty. Under the MGIB, eligible service members can receive up to 36 months of education benefits that they can use to pay for tuition, books, and other education-related expenses. In exchange for these benefits, service members are required to make a $1,200 contribution towards the program during their first year of service.

Post-9/11 GI Bill®

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. The bill aimed to expand on the education benefits provided by the MGIB® by offering more comprehensive benefits to veterans who had served after September 11, 2001. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, eligible veterans could receive up to 36 months of education benefits that they can use to pay for tuition, books, and other education-related expenses at an institution of higher learning or to cover the costs of vocational training. In addition, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® provides a housing allowance to eligible veterans based on the location of their school and a stipend for books and supplies. Unlike the MGIB®, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® does not require service members to make a contribution toward the program.

Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

Established by Congress in 1943 the Veteran Readiness and Employment (Formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment) provides comprehensive services to veterans with service-related disabilities. You may receive VR&E services to help with job training, education, employment accommodations, resume development, and job-seeking skills coaching. Other services may be provided to assist Veterans and Service members in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment. 


Other Government Aid Sources

While the GI Bill® is a great resource for veterans, there may be other sources of aid from federal or state governments available to you. Some of these are need-based (frequently determined by the FAFSA) while others are academically competitive and some are open to all veterans. These are just a few of those additional options:

Federal Student Aid (FSA)

Federal Student Aid consists of grant and loan programs provided through the US Department of Education that are designed to help students and their families cover the costs of higher education. FSA can take the form of grants, such as the Pell Grant, or federally subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. 

  • Pell Grant - The Pell Grant is aid that does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are awarded to students who have a financial need as determined by the U.S. Department of Education standards. Annually, the U.S. Department of Education determines student eligibility for this grant. For the 2022-23 award year, the maximum Pell Grant for a full-time student attending three quarters in the award year is $6895.  Students who are eligible for a Pell Grant may qualify for less depending on their estimated family contribution and enrollment status (number of credits taken) each quarter. Not all students will qualify for a federal Pell Grant. 

  • Subsidized Loans - The Subsidized Federal Direct Loan program provides low-interest loans through the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program.  These loans are awarded on the basis of need and tend to have less interest than private loans.  The maximum annual loan amount for undergraduate students is $3,500 for the first academic year, $4,500 for the second academic year, and $5,500 for the third and fourth academic years. In addition, the Department of Education will remove origination and other fees (if applicable). Only undergraduate students are eligible for subsidized loan funding. The Federal government pays the interest while the student is in school, in grace, and during deferment periods. Interest begins accruing on these loans when the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment status. Repayment typically begins six months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half-time although at the time of writing this blog the Department of Education has paused student loan repayments.

  • Unsubsidized Loans - Unsubsidized Student Loans are federally guaranteed loans that are available for students who desire to pursue education but lack the financial resources to do so. These loans are not based on financial need. Interest on unsubsidized student loans starts to accrue as soon as the loan is disbursed to the school. The federal government does not pay the interest on the loan while the student is in school. These are fixed-interest loans and a student is not required to start making repayments while he or she is in school. Students are not required to make interest or principal payments until 6 months after graduation or dropping below half-time. These loans can be used to pay for the total expenses of your education: tuition, housing, reading materials, and other expenses related to studies. Student loan borrowers are responsible for all interest that accrues on the loan while in school, in grace, and during deferment periods. The student may elect to make interest payments while in school to avoid the capitalization of interest and to lower the overall repayment debt. 

State Benefits

In addition to the financial aid and military benefits mentioned above, your state may offer additional education benefits to veterans. To determine what benefits your state offers, please visit the Veterans Administration Website.

What documentation is needed to apply for aid?

The documentation needed to apply for the GI Bill® or Federal Student Aid may vary depending on the program and your specific situation. However, here are some common documents that are frequently required:

For the GI Bill®

  • Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • DD Form 214 or other discharge/separation papers to verify your military service and eligibility for the GI Bill.
  • Personal information, such as your Social Security number, address, and contact information.
  • School transcripts and records of prior education - generally official transcripts will need to be sent directly to the school from your previous institution or the military. 
  • Information about the school and program you plan to attend, including its name, location, and cost.
  • More information on what you’ll need to attend Lionel University

For Federal Student Aid

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. 
  • Social Security number or alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen.
  • Tax returns or W-2 forms for you and your parents, if you are a dependent student.
  • Records of untaxed income, such as child support, interest income, and veterans benefits.
  • Information about the school and program you plan to attend, including its name, location, and cost.
  • More information on what you’ll need to attend Lionel University

It is important to note that the documentation requirements may differ based on the program and your individual circumstances. It is recommended that you check with the program or school you plan to attend for specific requirements and instructions on how to apply for benefits.

Scholarships available to military veterans

Along with the aid sources listed above, there are numerous scholarships available for veterans, active service members and their families to help those who have served in the military pursue their educational goals. These scholarships can provide financial assistance for tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Many organizations offer scholarships specifically for veterans and their families, with eligibility criteria that may vary based on factors such as military service, financial need, academic merit, and field of study. That information should be provided by the organization presenting the scholarship and may vary among scholarships offered. It is also good practice to check with your school to make sure they can accept the scholarship if offered. To get you started, this list is just a few of the scholarships available to veterans:

Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship: “The Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship allows eligible Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill® or dependents using the Fry Scholarship to get added benefits. This scholarship provides up to 9 months (or $30,000) of benefits for training in high-demand fields. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.” https://www.va.gov/education/other-va-education-benefits/stem-scholarship/ 

The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is available to children of military personnel who died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. URL: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/iraq-afghanistan-service

Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship: The Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship is available to military veterans and their spouses who are pursuing a degree in any field. The scholarship can cover tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. URL: https://pattillmanfoundation.org/apply-to-be-a-scholar/ 

AMVETS National Scholarship Program: The AMVETS National Scholarship Programs are available to veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their children or grandchildren who are pursuing a degree in any field. URL: https://amvets.org/scholarships/ 

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation: The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is available to children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen who have served with the Marines. The scholarship is awarded based on financial need, academic merit, and community service. URL: https://www.mcsf.org/apply/ 

Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program: The Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program is available to women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, or Army National Guard, as well as their children and spouses. URL: https://www.awfdn.org/scholarships 

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Education Foundation Scholarships: The FRA Education Foundation Scholarships are available to active-duty, retired, and honorably discharged veterans, as well as their spouses, children, and grandchildren who are pursuing a degree in any field. URL: https://www.fra.org/fra/web/web/content/fra_scholarships.aspx 

Veterans United Foundation Scholarship Program: The Veterans United Foundation Scholarship Program is available to surviving spouse or a surviving child of a deceased service member or a deceased veteran of the U.S. Military, or a Veteran with a 100% service-connected disability. URL: https://www.veteransunited.com/about/scholarships/ 

The American Legion Legacy Scholarship: The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is available to children of U.S. military personnel who died while on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 or those who have a combined disability rating of 50% or higher. The scholarship is awarded based on financial need and academic merit. URL: https://www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy 

Air Force Aid Society General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program: The Air Force Aid Society General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program is available to children of U.S. Air Force members. The grant is awarded based on financial need. URL: https://www.afas.org/education-grants/ 

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance: The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance is available to spouses and children of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps members who are pursuing a degree. The assistance is awarded based on financial need. URL: https://www.nmcrs.org/pages/education-loans-and-scholarships 

Coast Guard Foundation Scholarships: The Coast Guard Foundation Scholarships are available to U.S. Coast Guard members and their children, who are pursuing a degree. URL: https://coastguardfoundation.org/scholarships 

Study.com Scholarship for Military Members & Veterans - “Study.com believes every student has the right to affordable and high-quality education, and that is especially true for members of our military. With this $1,000 scholarship, we hope to help support a current or former military member get a head start on a college degree.” https://study.com/resources/military-veterans-scholarship 

Lionel University Scholarship

Frederick C. Hatfield Memorial Scholarship - Frederick C. Hatfield, PhD, was co-founder of the International Sports Sciences Association and a world champion powerlifter. He embodied all of the qualities that we look for in our students. To honor his memory, we created the Frederick C. Hatfield Memorial Scholarship, open to all students, which is awarded to one applicant each year. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition* for the Lionel University associate degree program. https://www.lionel.edu/frederick-hatfield-memorial-scholarship

Bringing It All Together

Military benefits, financial aid, and scholarships can provide critical support for military veterans and their families as they pursue higher education and advance their careers. From the GI Bill® to federal student aid to private scholarships, there are many resources available to help veterans pay for college or vocational training. By taking advantage of these programs, veterans can gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the fitness, health, and wellness industry and build a better future for themselves and their families. We encourage students to explore the options available to them and understand the requirements for each program to maximize their benefits.

Knowing what financial aid options are available to you and how to manage your student aid makes earning your exercise science degree even more of a possibility. And there are so many fitness job opportunities that you’ll be able to explore once you have a degree in exercise science. This is the case for all of our degree programs. In fact, earning an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, will all put you in demand for jobs. Regardless of which degree you are pursuing, at Lionel, you earn multiple certificates and specializations along the way. This means you can start working as a fitness professional even before graduation day! 

For more information on the programs or financial aid options available at Lionel University, contact us at military@lionel.edu or 800-650-4772 x4. We’re here for your greatness!