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Military Blogger Contest Entry: Doenne Brown

How to use Chapter 35 Dependents Educational Assistance.

This past fall was my third year in dealing with Chapter 35. So I’ve been around the block with this stuff, and there’s stuff I learned along the way that can help others. I had one child get an associates degree at a 2 year community college, and this past fall, transfer to a 4 year school to complete his bachelor’s degree. Youngest will graduate high school in May, and is already enrolled in tech school for the fall.

If I can offer some valuable advice to anyone wanting to use it, here goes:

  1. File ASAP. Get the application for DEA sent off for approval. Especially if your kid is a senior in high school. I filed for my youngest in October, got the award letter in December. It stated to take it to the school he plans to attend. I can’t stress this enough that the sooner you get it in, the better. Benefit here, even if you don’t know for sure your kid is going to do college, get an idea of where they are considering going. If they know for sure where they plan to go, have them get their application for enrollment sent to the school of their choice as early in their senior year as possible. If they get that sent in and are accepted, getting their enrollment done early is a snap.
  2. Do not forget to do your FASFA. If you have little or no other family income, get your taxes done and get the FASFA completed. You will find, especially if you depend solely on your VA income, that your child will get full Pell Grants. (No expected family contribution) Additionally, if you get your FASFA info sent in and the school is notified, Your child could possibly get the additional FSEOG grant which is another 500$ on top of the Pell Grant.
  3. Have your child apply for every scholarship you can find! SCHOLARSHIPS AND PELL GRANTS do not affect the Chapter 35 benefit, and the child receiving Chapter 35 benefit will not affect the eligibility for the Pell or FSEOG grants. This can actually just about cover ALL college costs except living expenses. Then that frees up that 925$ a month for the kid to live on without having to work.
  4. Go tour the school with your kid! Get with the school’s Financial Aid Department! Many MANY schools actually have someone in the financial aid department that specifically handles Chapter 31, 35, and GI bill (usually referred to as veterans counselor). Make it a point to stop in and talk to these folks, and ask if there are any additional items or info they may need or want. These people can steer you in the right direction. Put them on speed dial! This Person will also be the contact person to re-certify enrollment to be sent to CHAMPVA while the kid is enrolled in school. Each school is different, some re-certify by semester, some by school year. Pay attention to the dates on their CHAMPVA card. You need to make sure you keep on top of this.
  5. Check on immunizations, especially if your child is considering out of state. Some states require additional vaccinations. (Example, my son went first two years of college in Kansas, where he graduated high school. Transferred his Junior year of college to Oklahoma, and they required additional shots, specifically the Hep B.)
  6. They do not currently direct deposit Chapter 35 checks. Those will be sent to the dependant’s home address… might be wise to make sure you can get those checks deposited to a bank account for your kid.

If you have other questions about it, please drop me a line, I’ve been through just about all of it.

This past fall payments were slightly delayed due to the high volume of claims….. that’s why it’s important to get yours in early…. I know several of the students down here were still waiting for their first check in December.

And a final note… if you haven’t learned how to text… you might want to, it’s a great way to let your kid know you’re thinking about them that day! They will get homesick!

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