Need Money for Higher Education?

Service member looking at brochures

Don’t think you can afford college? Think again. In addition to military tuition assistance and Department of Veterans Affairs education programs, numerous loans and opportunities are available to help you fund the next step in your education.

Federal grants and loans

Check out these grants and loans to help cover education expenses:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the required application from the Department of Education. It determines your eligibility for any form of federal financial aid.
  • Federal Pell Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. The grant is typically awarded to an undergraduate student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. In some cases, a student enrolled in a post-bachelor’s teacher certificate program may receive a Pell Grant.
  • Direct Stafford Loans are low-interest loans to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or a trade, career or technical school.
  • PLUS loans are federal loans that eligible graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for education expenses.
  • Federal Perkins Loans are low-interest loans for both undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant Program, or FSEOG, provides need-based grants to help low-income undergraduate students finance the cost of higher education. Priority is given to recipients of the Federal Pell Grant.

Colleges and universities

More than 2,600 colleges and universities worldwide offer educational opportunities to military members. Service Members Opportunity Colleges, or SOC, a group of more than 1,900 postsecondary schools, provides opportunities to service members and their families to complete college degrees as they live the mobile military life.

Here are some useful resources to help you plan your postsecondary education:

  • TA DECIDE, a new Department of Defense tool, allows you to compare information about education institutions and costs.
  • Financial Aid Shopping Sheet helps you compare higher education institutions to make informed decisions about where to attend school.
  • GI Bill® Comparison Tool helps you compare Veterans Affairs-approved institutions and review other information to choose the education program that works best for you.
  • College Navigator provides a search feature, builds a list of schools for comparison and pinpoints school locations to help you make the best decision about your postsecondary education.

Use the TA DECIDE tool to help you make informed decisions about your postsecondary education. For more information about financial assistance for higher education, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to set up an education specialty consultation.

The Healthy Base Initiative

Group of children skipping

Since 2013, the Healthy Base Initiative — part of the overarching Operation Live Well program — has brought healthy living initiatives to service members and their families at 14 pilot installations.

A fit and healthy fighting force is the foundation of a strong national defense. In the United States, poor nutrition, obesity, lack of physical fitness and tobacco use pose a growing threat to the military’s four “Rs”: recruitment, retention, readiness and resilience.

To help combat this problem, the Department of Defense implemented the Healthy Base Initiative to help create an environment that encourages good nutrition, active lifestyles and tobacco-free living — and make healthy living the easy choice.

Here are the components of the Healthy Base Initiative:

Physical Activity

  • Initiatives, Promising Practices and Tools
  • Physical Activity Policies

Children, Schools and Families

  • Initiatives, Promising Practices, Tools, Resources
  • Children, Schools and Families Policies

Healthy Food Options

  • Initiatives, Promising Practices, Tools, Resources
  • Healthy Food Option Policies

Physical Environment

  • Initiatives, Tools
  • Physical Environment Policies

Health and Wellness

  • Initiatives, Promising Practices
  • Health and Wellness Policies

Tobacco Cessation Programs

  • Initiatives, Promising Practices, Tools
  • Tobacco Cessation Policies

Farmers Market Guide — starting an on-installation farmers market

Recipe Book  — healthy recipes for foodservice operations.

Wounded Warrior Specialty Consultations: Health Care, Benefits and More

Doctor fixing injured knee

Military OneSource provides wounded warrior specialty consultation services to help eligible wounded, ill or injured service members, veterans and their families get immediate assistance for issues related to health care, resources, facilities and benefits.

What we do and who is eligible for consultation services

Consultations aren’t limited to just those service members with combat injuries or a military disability. Service members and veterans injured in accidents or battling serious illnesses are also eligible. Consultants are available to help with:

  • Questions about health care and benefits
  • Getting additional support
  • Reporting problems with military facilities
  • Support for non-medical issues like transportation needs, legal issues, respite care and much more

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

Working with your service branch and the Department of Veterans Affairs

Each service branch operates a wounded warrior program to help service members and their families with non-medical issues associated with transitioning back to duty or civilian life. Military OneSource specialty consultants work with these programs and the Department of Veterans Affairs to quickly connect you to the resources you need. Your eligibility to use the service doesn’t end when you leave a military treatment facility.

Response timelines after your call

Within an hour of your call, consultants will refer you to the right resources at the VA or the wounded warrior program specific to your service. Within 96 hours of calling, you will have a plan that addresses your issue. You’ll also have a personal consultant who will guide you through the entire process, no matter how complex.

What types of support do wounded warrior programs provide?

The wounded warrior programs work with the service member and his or her medical team to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses specific recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration goals. Typical non-medical support may include all these services and more:

  • Pay and personnel issues
  • Invitational travel orders
  • Lodging and housing adaptations
  • Child and youth care arrangements
  • Transportation needs
  • Legal and guardianship issues
  • Education and training benefits
  • Respite care
  • Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress support services

More about wounded warrior programs and services

The military’s wounded warrior programs provide help and support for severely wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. Eligibility for wounded warrior benefits isn’t limited to those with combat injuries. Other eligible military members include:

  • Service members battling serious illnesses
  • Service members injured in accidents and requiring long-term care

Support doesn’t stop just because the service member is no longer under military care. Wounded warrior programs provide lifetime support, even after the service member is discharged from a military treatment facility.

Additional resources for caregivers

Caregivers of wounded warriors can get additional support from Military OneSource beyond specialty consultations including: Personalized Experiences, Engagement and Resources — or PEER — forums, as well as webinars, caregiver-related events and specialized resources.

Also, check out Military OneSource’s wounded warrior page for information about independent living, caregiver support issues, living with a disability, and links to VA and TRICARE.

Military OneSource has more information about wounded warrior programs. If you or a family member is a wounded warrior who needs help understanding your benefits, contact Military OneSource for a free specialty consultation at 800-342-9647.

State Consultants Offer Local Support

A male Military OneSource state consultant speaks with a male Airman at an event.

Need to connect with financial, health, employment or other services in your local community? Military OneSource’s state consultants bring help directly to you, offering outreach services to support members of the military community when and where they need it most.

While many Military OneSource services are easily accessed with just a phone call or a click, state consultants can help if you need more in-depth information or support in your own backyard.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

What state consultants do

State consultants operate in every state and Puerto Rico. They work with service members, families, military leadership, and military and civilian service providers to make sure the needs of the military community are met. State consultants:

  • Provide need-based information and referral services to improve the quality of life and readiness of service members, their families and survivors.
  • Educate service members, their families and survivors on Military OneSource resources and services through small group informational sessions, which can be held in collaboration with other service providers.
  • Develop and execute state support plans to ensure broad awareness of Military OneSource and its resources including financial, behavioral health, education, employment, health and wellness, and support for deployment and military life. Network with local service providers to raise understanding of the military community’s needs.
  • Support local events with presentations and resource tables to educate on the services available through the Military OneSource call center and website.

How state consultants provide local support

State consultants provide information about Military OneSource’s services in many ways:

  • Event support such as deployment events, family days or other large-group activities for service and family members.
  • Presentations at community meetings such as Joining Community Forces.
  • Webinars and website tours for service providers, service members and/or family members.
  • Small-group meetings of fewer than 50 service and/or family members. This is great for an in-depth look at a specific topic.

Who is eligible to receive outreach services?

Outreach services support service members, their families, survivors and military leaders from all branches and components, as well as military and civilian service providers working within the military population. Military OneSource state consultants and outreach assistants are available in every state and territory.

Connect with your state consultant at 800-342-9647 to find out what resources and services are available through Military OneSource. OCONUS? Click here for calling options.

Free, Confidential Face-to-Face Non-medical Counseling

Two soldiers talk

Sometimes strength means asking for help. Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer free, confidential, face-to-face non-medical counseling to support you with military and family life challenges like preparing for and handling a move or nurturing a relationship with a deployed spouse.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

In-person, free counseling sessions are available to active-duty, National Guard and reserve members of any activation status, their immediate family members and survivors. All counselors have a master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health field and a license to practice independently.

Here’s what you need to know to begin your free, face-to-face counseling sessions.

How does face-to-face non-medical counseling work?

  • You can schedule face-to-face non-medical counseling by calling a consultant at Military OneSource (800-342-9647). OCONUS/International? View calling options.
  • If the consultant determines the service is right for you, you will be authorized for up to 12 counseling sessions.
  • The consultant can put you in touch with a counselor that best suits your needs.
  • Once you get authorization for a face-to-face session, you have 30 days to schedule it.
  • If you’re not able to start your sessions within those 30 days, you can call Military OneSource to start over.
  • To speak with a military and family life counselor (Military and Family Life Counseling Program) contact your installation’s Military and Family Support Center.

Are face-to-face sessions confidential?

  • Information disclosed during a non-medical counseling session is confidential. It will not impact your career or your spouse’s career in any way.
  • The only exceptions to confidentiality are legal and military requirements to report child abuse, spouse abuse, elder abuse, threats of harm to self or others, and any present or future illegal activity.
  • Eligible family members or a legal guardian of a service member’s dependents can use non-medical counseling sessions without the service member’s knowledge.

Are children and youth eligible for face-to-face counseling?

  • Military OneSource offers face-to-face non-medical counseling for children and youth ages 6 to 17.
  • The service includes help with issues such as family relationships, school issues, adjustment to deployment or separation, and grief and loss.
  • A parent must attend each session for military children ages 6 to 12, but only the first session for youths ages 13 to 17.
  • Children younger than age 18 are eligible for counseling with a child and youth behavioral military and family life counselor with parental consent.
  • All military and family life counseling with children occurs within line of sight of another adult.

What kinds of issues are addressed in face-to-face, confidential non-medical counseling?

  • Improving relationships at home and work
  • Stress management
  • Adjustment and deployment concerns
  • Marital problems
  • Parenting
  • Grief or loss

What kinds of issues are not addressed in face-to-face confidential, non-medical counseling?

  • Active suicidal or homicidal thoughts: Call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255.
  • Sexual assault: Call the Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247, or start an online chat. In case of immediate danger, call 911.
  • Child abuse: Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).
  • Domestic violence: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • Alcohol and substance abuse: Counseling services are available through your installation and are free to service members and their families. You may also refer to the Army Substance Abuse Program, Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, and Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Program.
  • Mental health conditions: Reach out to your military treatment facility, or contact TRICARE.

What if I need support for an issue that falls outside of non-medical counseling?

  • Military OneSource consultants can help you determine whether or not your issue falls under non-medical counseling.
  • If it doesn’t, they will help you find other resources, including community services, installation services or TRICARE, if appropriate.
  • You are strong and resilient. Now you need support. Learn how to better manage the stressors of military and family life by accessing confidential, face-to-face non-medical counseling sessions. Call 800-342-9647 or visit Military OneSource. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

Becoming a Caregiver for a Wounded, Ill or Injured Service Member

Wife’s hand on husbands back.

When your spouse or loved one suffers a severe injury or debilitating illness, it can feel as if your entire world has been turned upside down — and the goals and plans you had for yourself, your marriage and your family go on hold.

Your role is changing, and you’re about to become part of your loved one’s caregiving and recovery team. Remember, you have help and resources available. Learn all you can and reach out for all the support there for you.

Becoming an active member of the recovery team

Educate yourself. As a caretaker, you are an extremely important part of your loved one’s recovery team. You know them better than any doctor or nurse, and may notice things they do not. As a key advocate for your loved one’s health, educating yourself about their condition will enable you to ask health care providers the right questions and help you anticipate your loved one’s needs.

Get organized about care and treatment. Military OneSource’s Keeping It All Together notebook is a helpful way to organize your wounded warrior’s treatment and recovery in one place. Read about other resources to help here.

Watch for depression or combat stress. While these are often symptoms of a physical injury and/or illness, they have the potential to become a longer-term mental health concern. You may notice angry outbursts, being easily startled, loss of confidence, loss of interest in life, mounting sadness, and risky behavior — and may take weeks or months to surface. Be sure to communicate all worrisome behavior to your loved one’s doctor.

Taking care of yourself and your children

Caring for you. Allow yourself time to accept the changes in your life and relationship; be aware of the emotional and physical strains of caregiving. Grief, anxiety, isolation, fear, anger and even guilt are all common responses to this life change. While you may be consumed with helping your loved one, don’t forget your well-being is also an important part of their recovery. If you take care of yourself, you are better able to care for them. Connecting with other caregivers can provide much-needed support as well as some insight into ways to live with your situation. The Military Caregiver PEER Forum Initiative offers the opportunity for caregivers to share knowledge, expertise, resources and ongoing support. Read more on Military OneSource about caregiver stress and find caregiver resources.

Caring for your children. Helping children cope with a parent’s wound, injury or illness often depends on the child’s age and ability to understand the situation. How a child reacts to this “new normal” will vary, but there are a few strategies you can use to help them cope:

  • Tell your child that it’s normal to feel angry or sad.
  • Encourage your child to express his or her feelings through drawing, playing or writing. But don’t force your child to talk about feelings.
  • Maintain routines. Even if your child is staying with a friend or adult while you are helping your injured service member, write down your child’s routines and ask the caregiver to follow them.
  • When your child wants to talk, give them your full attention.

Finally, remember that Military OneSource and Child and Youth Behavioral Military Family and Life Counselors are available to help you and your children with non-medical counseling. Contact Military OneSource counselors through Confidential Help on this website. For children and youth, ask if there are counselors at these locations near you:

Remember, becoming a caregiver presents a unique set of challenges. It isn’t easy, but when you reach out for the right help and the right resources, you can make it work — for yourself, for your children, and your loved one.

Citizenship and Immigration – The Essentials

Sailor salutes American flag

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

As the diversity of the military changes, an increasing number of active-duty service members must address immigration legal matters within their immediate families. You may not be aware that lawful permanent residents may apply for naturalization based on their military service. Military OneSource is your guide for resources to assist with matters such as immigration, citizenship, and the naturalization process, as well as language interpretation and document translations.

Take advantage of these services:

American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program

The American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program provides free immigration legal services to service members and their family members whose legal matters may be complex and require the knowledge of experienced immigration attorneys.

Relevant Resources:

Language interpretation and document translation services

Military OneSource provides real-time language interpretation for military families, as well as free translation of legal documents such as leases, marriage licenses, adoption paperwork and school transcripts.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Legal assistance office

Your legal assistance office provides support and referrals for immigration, and citizenship and naturalization matters, such as alien registration, re-entry permits, passports, naturalization of a surviving spouse and citizenship of children born abroad to U.S. military parents.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

USCIS Contacts and Military Help Line

Support is available to service members and their families who have questions about applying for citizenship:

  • Call the USCIS toll-free Military Help Line: 877-247-4645, TTY (800) 877-8339, or see the Military Help Line webpage. USCIS representatives are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), excluding federal holidays. Members of the U.S. armed forces and their families stationed in the U.S. or overseas may access the help line using the toll-free number through their base telephone operator or using Defense Switched Network (DSN).
  • For service members, designated spouses, or children stationed in Asia- Pacific who have pending applications with USCIS, a specific e-mail has been provided for inquiries:
  • Contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for help with immigration, citizenship and the naturalization process. Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Important US naturalization information and resources for service members

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

Free Resources for Service Members to Gain Financial Security

Two service members work together on a manual task.

From budgeting and car buying to building a good credit score or getting a handle on student loans, your service member has access to several free benefits and protections to help them gain firm financial footing.

Four Money-Management Reminders to Share with Your Service Member

For your service member, being in the military may mean having a steady paycheck for the first time. However, they may need some help when it comes to budgeting and spending wisely. You can help them get on firm financial ground by sharing these four money-management tips.

  1. Set up a monthly budget. Your loved one receives a set amount of income each month, and they need to be sure it can cover their bills and expenses. They should make a list of their monthly expenses – such as rent, car insurance, cell phone, clothing and groceries – and then compare those expenses to their monthly income. This will determine how much they need to set aside for bills each month, and how much will be left over. Here are some other budgeting tips:
    • Create an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as when their car breaks down or for replacing a lost cell phone. They can choose a specific day and number of dollars to contribute to their emergency fund on a monthly basis.
    • Set aside a certain amount of “fun money” every month and use it to pay for things like entertainment and eating out.
  2. When buying a car, consider buying “used.” A shiny new car is nice, but the monthly payments and insurance may put a strain on their finances. A used and affordable car could more comfortably fit within their budget. Some additional car buying tips:
    • Save a bit of money to make a down payment, which can lower the monthly payment.
    • Shop around for an auto loan and insurance to make sure they are getting a good deal.
    • Avoid add-on products like service contracts, window etching, and tire, dent and paint protection packages – they increase payments.
  3. Bonuses: Spend some, save some. Enlistment bonuses and other special pay can amount to thousands of dollars, and it may be tempting for your service member to use it all on dream or impulse buys. Help them make the most of it by encouraging them to divide it – use part for something special and the rest to improve their financial standing by building up their emergency fund, paying down debt or contributing to their Thrift Savings Plan.
  4. Limit the use of credit. Using credit cards is one way to build a credit history, which is important for buying a home or taking out a loan. However, misusing credit can lead to mounting debt. Encourage your service member to use credit responsibly, for convenience – not as a lifestyle. Also let them know that paying off cards quickly to prevent a growing balance can help them avoid paying even more in interest. Other tips:
    • Shop around to find the credit card with the lowest interest rate and with no annual fee.
    • Look for cards that offer low introductory interest rates or allow users to transfer balances from high-interest cards at 0% interest. (Military credit cards, such as the MILITARY STAR card offers a low interest rate, no annual fees, no late or over-limit fees, and can be used at commissaries and exchanges around the world.)

The military wants service members to make good financial decisions, which can only help them in their military careers. If the service member in your life doesn’t know where to start or has specific questions, Military OneSource is here to help them get answers and reach their financial goals.