Military OneSource stands by your side with information and resources so you can support your child’s education. Military families have several options when it comes to financing your youth’s college or trade school education, including scholarships, Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits, education grants, loans and college savings programs. Your children’s goals are as important as your own, and Military OneSource has your back as you plan for this milestone.

Here are several ways to make college or trade school education possible for your youth:

Start saving early

Regardless of your child’s age, start saving now. It may seem daunting, but there are plenty of ways to put some money away now that will pay dividends to your child’s college education down the line. There are many savings plans available, including 529 Plans, which allow your savings to grow tax-free. The Office of Financial Readiness is available to help with your financial planning. Talk to a personal financial counselor at your installation. You can also arrange to speak with an education consultant through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment with an education consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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Scholarships for military children

There are numerous scholarships available to children of service members. Each scholarship has different eligibility requirements. Check carefully to find the scholarships right for your student’s educational goals, then apply, apply, apply. The wider the net you cast, the greater your chances of finding a financial partner to help pay for college. Contact your installation school liaison for scholarship opportunities in your community.

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Look into loans

If you’re taking out a loan, be sure to read the fine print. Colleges and universities will offer a host of financial aid packages, so research each carefully to make sure you’re signing up for the right one. You also have the option to borrow directly from the government. Create a personal financial aid spreadsheet to compare which loans and aid your student qualifies for. There are several loans available, including Direct Stafford Loans, PLUS loans and Federal Perkins Loans. A Military OneSource education consultant can also help answer your questions.

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Apply for grants

In addition to scholarships, there are plenty of education grants which families don’t have to repay, such as Federal Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant Program, or FSEOG. To begin the grant process, start with the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most colleges and universities use this form to determine students’ eligibilities for aid, grants and scholarships.

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Students with special needs

Most colleges and universities now offer in-person and distance learning options that allow for equal access to learning for students with disabilities. To find the right fit for your student seeking traditional learning, begin the search early for higher education. Visit the school virtually or in person, talk to the disability service offices on prospective campuses and reach out to current students with similar disabilities to better understand their learning and living experiences.

Your student may also decide a different career path might be a better fit. Many opportunities exist for additional learning and career growth, through internships and apprenticeships, adult education programs, job training programs and comprehensive postsecondary transition programs, or CPTs. PACER Center, and its Transitioning to Life After High School content, provides invaluable resources for families with exceptional family members.

If your teen has an individualized education program, or IEP, he or she can choose to receive additional educational support and assistance through age 21. While an IEP doesn’t extend to higher education institutions, students with 504 plans can take those plans with them to college.

Families with exceptional family members can explore postsecondary education with the help of their installation’s Exceptional Family Member Program and can find links to their state’s transition resources in the Education Directory for Children with Special Needs. Parents and guardians can also reach out to Military OneSource by phone at 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat to schedule an appointment to talk with a special needs consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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