Living off of the Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) GI Bill

The Post 9/11 GI benefits have definitely been a huge blessing in my life, however, they were also somewhat of a curse for a period of time, as well. For those of you that are unaware of these benefits, they’re college benefits offered to military members (or their dependents) attending college full or part-time. These benefits also allow for a monthly living stipend depending on the city, location, and cost-of-living for the residents in the college’s immediate area. This monthly stipend is also pro-rated and does not pay for the breaks in between terms, which can often be quite the hindrance to recipients (like myself) that depend entirely on their monthly stipend as their primary source of income.

As recipients, we receive anywhere up to 100% of these benefits depending on how long we served in the military, and these rates also cover the full cost of in-state tuition at most schools. In my case, however, as an out-of-state student that transferred to PSU in 2012, I can honestly tell you that I was hemorrhaging money when I began to take classes full-time. At PSU, in-state tuition is valued at $147 per credit, however, non-resident students must pay $485 per credit (with full-time being a minimum of 12 credits). At that time, I even took out student loans to cover the $1,200+ left for me to pay, every term. Although this left me with a diminishing savings account, I’m proud to say that things have turned for the better this year.

“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”

– Henry Ford

This year, I’ve not-only qualified for the Federal Pell Grant, but I’ve also received tuition-remissions as a resident of Clark County going to school at PSU, as well as benefits from the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover the costs. Now, instead of losing an exorbitant amount of money, I’m finally able to make up for all of the money I lost over the previous year and a half (and then some). I’m even contemplating paying off the rest of my car bill early (maybe sometime in May), as I will hopefully have more than enough to do so, come that time.

Now, I’m just relieved that I no longer have to worry about my finances as I begin the final home stretch of my life as an undergraduate student. This only means that for the next four months, all I have to do is focus on my classes. If you’re a military member (or even a dependent) deciding to go to school with hopes of having your primary source of income come from the Post 9/11 GI bill, I highly recommend that you look into other grants and scholarships. Although this can be enough for someone that doesn’t have rent, car payments, or various other bills to pay – for the majority of us that don’t have this kind of luxury, applying for these things will only help you in the long-run, so that you might be able to supplement your income during those payment gaps in between each term. Should you have any questions for me about these processes, please don’t hesitate to ask.