Veterans urged to look into college education benefits
State Senator Jay Costa, Jr. is urging military veterans to look into numerous programs aimed at helping them obtain a college education and other services.
“With so many service men and women overseas during this holiday season, it is important to recognize and support their service to our country,” Costa said. “Just as important, I believe we should work to help them succeed when they leave the service and return home.
“There are numerous educational grant and loan programs available to veterans. I urge these men and women to fully explore these options.”
To qualify for state grants from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), a veteran must be honorably discharged and have engaged in active service with the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, or have served as a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies.
Costa said that several of the options open to veterans for financing college education are:
• GI Bill – provides educational benefits for veterans, service members and other eligible persons;
• Federal Pell Grant – this grant depends upon the financial need of the student. To file for this grant, the student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Renewal FAFSA;
• Federal Stafford Loan – a long-term, low-cost loan;
• Federal PLUS Loan – a long-term loan secured by parents of dependent undergraduates;
• College-Based Aid – a financial aid package awarded directly through the financial aid office of a college or university.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) functions as the state grant application for all applicants, including veterans, and is available from college financial aid administrators, high school counselors, state legislators and the U.S. Department of Education.
Costa said veterans should also look into other available assistance agencies. Job centers can help veterans find employment. The Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs maintains county offices to assist veterans with federal, state, and local benefits. He said the nearest local outreach center is located in Greensburg.
“Through the POW-MIA program, special state grants are also available to the children of soldiers who were prisoners of war or reported missing in action,” Costa said. “I urge veterans to contact these agencies for assistance.
“In addition, my staff and I stand ready to help veterans obtain information or apply for these programs.”