Preparing for CollegeIf you are a veteran or currently in the military, there are programs to help you start or continue a college education. Many college campuses have dedicated counselors and advisors to help military personnel and veterans begin, transfer or transition to college.
Start at DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support), a Department of Defense agency that helps veterans and active duty military personnel get started on a college or vocational program. Here you will:
· Learn about available educational benefits, based on your branch of service and status
· Learn how to earn college credit for your military experience
· Access your official military educational transcript to use for applying to college
Paying for CollegeNew York State veterans, active-duty service members or members of their immediate families have higher education benefits that can help pay for college.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill provide funding for college degree and certificate programs for those who are:
- Active duty military
- Honorably discharged Veterans
- Discharged with a service-connected disability
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
A student who is not eligible for a Pell Grant, but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may be eligible to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
New York State Veterans and Families Benefits
Military and veterans education benefits may not cover all college expenses. Remember to apply for all the federal and state student aid you are eligible for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). If you are a New York State resident and plan to attend a college or university in New York, you may be eligible for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Learn more.
Provides awards for full- and part-time study to eligible veterans matriculated at an undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution or in an approved vocational program in New York State
Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) – also known as the Military Service Recognition Scholarship
Provides financial aid to children, spouses and financial dependents of those who, while New York State residents in service in the U.S. Armed Services or state organized militia, at any time on or after August 2, 1990, died, became severely and permanently disabled, or was classified as missing in action in a combat zone while engaged in or training for hostilities.
Provides $450 per year to students whose parent(s) served in the U.S. Armed Forces during specified periods of war or national emergency and, as a result of service, either died, suffered a 40% or more disability, was classified as missing in action, or was a prisoner of war. The veteran must currently be a New York State resident or have been a New York State resident at the time of death or classification as missing in action.
RIRP provides college financial aid, up to $4,350 per year, to any active service member who has successfully completed advanced individual training or commissioning and other requirements of the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Information and applications for this program may be obtained from the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
Military Residency Waiver
The New York State residency eligibility requirement for recipients of awards administered by HESC is waived for a member of, or for the spouse or dependent of a member of, the armed forces of the United States who is on full-time active duty and is stationed in this state.
Contact HESC’s Scholarship Unit at 1-888-NYSHESC (1-888-697-4372), or chat with us online.
Active duty military and veterans who have student loans have benefits and protections to help manage their student loan debt.
Student Loan Guidelines at Times of Military Mobilization
When you are called to active duty due to a military mobilization, there are steps you, your family member or your legal representative can take to manage your Direct and FFEL student loans.
If You Need to Withdraw from Classes
To withdraw, contact your school. The school may provide a full refund to you or provide a credit to be used toward the classes you take when you return. When you return, the school will assist in your program re-enrollment.
Loans that are in Grace Period
If your loans are in grace period, contact your lender. The grace period for your student loan begins the day after you are no longer enrolled in school at least half time, typically for six months. Your grace period can be extended for up to three years during the time you are on active duty, until you re-enroll in classes.
Loans in Repayment
- Forbearance – You, a member of your family, or your legal representative should contact your lender. You are eligible for a 15-month forbearance due to a military mobilization. During a forbearance period, no payments need to be made on your student loan. Interest that accrues on your loan during this period will be capitalized (added to the principal of the loan) unless you make arrangements with your lender to make interest-only payments.
- Deferment - All borrowers who serve on active duty are eligible for a military deferment. If you qualify for a military deferment, the government will pay interest accruing on your subsidized loan. Contact your lender for details.
Military Service DefermentA Military Service Deferment is available while you are serving on active duty during a war or other military operation, or national emergency, or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation, or national emergency, if you were serving on or after October 1, 2007, for an additional 180-day period following the demobilization date for the qualifying service.
If you have Direct or FFEL Loans, complete and return the Military Service Deferment request form.
Post Active Service Student DefermentIf you are a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (current or retired), and called or ordered to active duty while enrolled at least half time at an eligible school, or within six months of having been enrolled at least half time, you may be eligible for Post Active Service Student Deferment. You may be eligible for deferment during the 13 months following the conclusion of the active duty service, or until you return to enrolled student status on at least half-time basis, whichever is earlier.
If you have Direct or FFEL Loans, complete and return the Post Active Service Student Deferment request form.
Income-Based Repayment Plans
Depending on when and the type of federal student loan you have, you may qualify for reduced loan payments based on your income and family size. Learn more.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
SCRA reduces interest rates on federal and private student loans to six percent during active-duty service on pre-service loan obligations. Borrowers must submit interest rate reduction request in writing to loan servicer and provide copy of military orders calling into active duty. Learn more.
Loan Forgiveness, Repayment, Cancellation and Discharge
Under certain circumstances, eligible federal student loans may be forgiven, cancelled or discharged with qualifying military service. Learn more.
Loans in Default
If your student loans are in default, you or a member of your family should contact your loan holder. Collection activities will stop during your active duty service. Find out who services your student loans by visiting the National Student Loan Data Service (NSLDS) website.
For questions regarding Direct Loans, contact the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-FEDAID.
BENEFITS FOR SERVICEMEMBERS WITH STUDENT LOANSBelow is an overview of programs and special protections for active-duty service members with student loans.
|Loan Type||Option||Benefit||Requirements to Receive|
|Federal||Income-Based Repayment(IBR)||Can reduce monthly payments based on income and family size |
·After 20-25 years of payments, remaining balance forgiven
|Must apply and provide documentation to servicer |
· May need to “consolidate” older loans into a qualifying federal loan first
|Federal ||Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)||Forgives any remaining balance after 120 “qualifying” monthly payments||· Must maintain full-time employment with a “public service” employer when each payment is made |
· Must submit “certification of public service” to servicer
· May need to “consolidate” older loans into a qualifying federal loan first
|Federal||Annual Principal Reduction for Perkins Loans (Perkins)||Reduces a portion of principal for each year of service||· Must serve for 365 consecutive days in an “area of hostility” |
· Must apply and provide documentation to servicer
|Federal and Private||Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)||Reduces interest rate to six percent during active-duty service on pre-service obligations||Must submit request in writing to servicer & provide copy of military orders calling onto active duty|
|Federal||Military Deferment||· Defers monthly payments during certain active duty service |
· Interest may accrue, depending on loan type
|· Must be serving on active duty or on full-time National Guard duty during a war/other military operation/national emergency |
· Must submit request to servicer
|Private||Deferment and Forbearances||· Varies depending on lender |
· Does not suspend interest accrual
|May vary depending on lender|