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Will My School Consider My Tuition Paid since They Know the Post 9/11 GI Bill Will Eventually Pay It?

Q: Hello Mr. Kness. I currently have the Post 9/11 GI Bill and I am due to separate from the military in about a month. I have everything setup at my school and I have also accepted financial aid that was offered to me at my University. I was informed by the Veterans Affairs office at the University that my GI Bill payments won’t be disbursed soon enough to pay my tuition until February or March. The semester begins in January. My concern is I don’t want my financial aid that I accepted from the school to pay the tuition before the GI Bill pays it mainly because I would like the extra money from the financial aid to go directly to me. Will the school consider the tuition paid since they know the GI Bill is eventually going to pay it? What will happen with my GI Bill if my financial aid pays off the tuition before the GI Bill does?

A: Both great questions, because many people using the Post 9/11 GI Bill don’t understand how scholarships can affect how much the VA pays towards their tuition. There are two types of scholarships- those that are specified to pay tuition and those that can be used for anything. If yours is a “fenced” scholarship – one that must be used to pay tuition, then you would not get any additional money because the VA would end up paying less in tuition (because your scholarship paid a good chunk of it). The VA is the last payer in cases where there are other forms of financial assistance dedicated to paying tuition.

If your scholarship is of the non-dedicated type, then it can be used for anything and you should get the additional money to spend as you wish. While your scholarship sounds like a non-dedicated type, your school may use it to pay your tuition unless you talk with them and explain you are under the Post 9/11 GI Bill which will pay your tuition.

Once you start under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it can take 8 to 10 weeks before you or your school see any money. With that said, they may pay your tuition with your scholarship right away and then bill the VA. If they do, that money is gone. However if they agree to wait for their money and bill the VA for the whole amount, then your scholarship money will come to you.

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