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Can My School Factor in My GI Bill Benefits as Scholarship Money?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My school factors in my VA benefits as if they are a scholarship and takes 100% of it even though my family has a 0 EFC according to the FAFSA. I having nothing to buy books with or live off of. Are they allowed to do that, or is that money supposed to be used at my discretion?

A: I’m not sure how your school is “taking” all of your VA benefits. If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school. The school is supposed to keep 100% of what they get.

However, monthly, you should get a Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance that averages around $1,300 per month. If you are a full-time student, then once each semester, you should also get around $500 in a book stipend. All of this money is slated for you to live off of and buy books. What is happening to this money?

The VA will either make a direct deposit into the account they have on file – the account information that was entered in Block 7 of VA Form 22-1990e – or send a hard copy check to the address listed on the same form, if Block 7 was left blank. So my question is whose account information or address is on your 22-1990e? If it is not yours, then that is where the money you are supposed to get is going.

If you are talking about any other GI Bill, the payment from the VA comes directly to you and you have to pay your own tuition, fees, books, etc. The school would not be in a position to “take” any of that money.

This may also help explain it – The GI Bill is not considered Financial Aid in the traditional sense. College and University financial aid departments do not consider the GI Bill financial aid because it is normally paid directly to you, not the school. Most schools will require you to sign a promissory note or apply for student loans to pay them upfront. You will then be required to pay on the loans – hopefully with your GI Bill payments.

This also means that you are eligible for student loans, scholarships, and Pell Grants along with the GI Bill, however GI Bill benefit payments reduces the amount of student financial aid you are eligible to receive.

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