According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education, there are currently more than 40 million student loan borrowers in the United States with over $1.1 trillion in outstanding debt, surpassing credit card debt. If you assume a large amount of student loan debt you may not qualify for home or auto loans and may have to delay saving for retirement, starting a family, or starting a business. The authoritative tool to help you determine how much tuition and fees your GI Bill benefits will cover and how much you will need to pay is VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool.
But as a Marine, you may not need to rely on a student loan to pay for your education. With access to Tuition Assistance, scholarships, grants, and your GI Bill education benefit, you have many options for financing your education.
It is essential to research options such as scholarships and grants before considering taking out a loan or using your GI Bill education benefit. Check out the Department of Education’s advice for finding and applying for scholarships as well as scholarship search tools, such as:
- CareerOneStop’s Scholarship Search
- MOAA Scholarships
- Military.com’s Scholarship Finder
- The College Board’s Scholarship Finder
If you do take out loans, make sure you understand capitalized interest and the repayment terms or you may become heavily indebted. Other questions to ask yourself:
- What is a reasonable amount to pay for my degree?
- What is my interest rate and when do I have to start paying the loan back?
- Will I make enough money to repay my student loan debt?
Check out the online tools available through the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Education’s Financial Aid Shopping Sheet and Aid for Military Families, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Paying For College.
To learn more about financing your education, contact your installation Voluntary Education personnel and Personal Financial Management Specialist.