THE BASICS

Before You Start

Here are some options that can help you lessen the expense of going to college.
  1. Finish School Sooner: High school students can take the College Board's Advanced Placement examinations and/or concurrent enrollment courses and earn college credit. 

    Advanced Placement
    Concurrent Enrollment
  2. The Military: Educational benefits and scholarships are available to those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. In some programs, enlistees receive an education first, and serve an equivalent amount of military time after graduation. Other programs allow you to accumulate money for an education while completing an initial enlistment period. Some scholarships pay full tuition and all instructional fees, and may include a living allowance. Loan repayment is also available to Army service personnel. For more information, contact your local Armed Forces recruiting office.
  3. AmeriCorps: It is a service program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Servicenew_window and allows people of all ages and backgrounds to earn help paying for education in exchange for a year of service.
  4. Work While You Learn: It may not be possible to earn all your own college costs, but a part-time or summer job can help reduce the amount you'll need to borrow. School employment offices can help you find a job on or off campus. On some campuses, work-study or student assistant programs help students find career-related jobs. Jobs funded through need-based work-study programs can also have additional financial aid advantages.

You may also be eligible for additional financial aid if you fall into some of the categories below:

Native American
Disabled
Veterans and Their Dependents
Athlete

Native American

Native American students who can prove membership in a federally recognized tribe may receive education grants from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairsnew_window (BIA). Information about scholarship or grant programs available to members of your tribe may be available in your tribe's education office.

Disabled

Disabled students who meet the academic qualifications for a college should apply for admission and, if needed, financial aid. By law, a qualified student cannot be excluded from college solely because of a disability.

All public schools and colleges and many independent schools provide disabled student services. Benefits may include counseling, tutoring, readers, interpreters, note takers, special parking zones and loan of special equipment. You may also request that a class be relocated to a more accessible place on campus.

Your student budget, as calculated by the colleges, should include all educational expenses necessary to accommodate your disability. Be sure to work with your financial aid offices if you apply, so they understand your particular circumstances.

For more information, contact the schools' disabled students' office, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Servicesnew_window, or the national organizations serving your particular disability.

You may want to download Planning Ahead: Financial Aid for Students with Disabilitiesnew_window, produced by the Heath Resource Centernew_window of the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, or you may call 202.973.0904 or 800.544.3284, write George Washington University, HEATH Resource Center, 2121 K St., NW, Suite 220, Washington, DC 20037, or email askheath@heath.gwu.edu.

For information on benefits for service-disabled veterans, call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 800.827.1000.

Veterans and Their Dependents

Federal Educational Benefits
The Montgomery GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve provide educational benefits for individuals entering military service or the reserves for the first time after June 30, 1985. Reservists who have enlisted for six or more years after July 1, 1985 may be eligible for the Selected Reserve Education Benefit.
Who is Eligible?

You may be an eligible veteran if you got an Honorable Discharge, AND you have a High School Diploma or GED or, in some cases 12 hours of college credit, AND you meet the requirements of one of the categories below:

Category I

  • Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985.
  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months.
  • Continuously served for three years OR two years if that is what you first enlisted for OR two years if you entered Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served four years ("2 by 4" Program).

Category II

  • Entered active duty before Jan. 1, 1977.
  • Served at least one day between Oct. 19, 1984, and June 30, 1985, and stayed on active duty through June 30, 1988, (or June 30, 1987, if you entered Selected Reserve within one year of leaving active duty and served four years).
  • On Dec. 31, 1989, had entitlement left from Vietnam Era GI Bill.

Category III

  • Not eligible for MGIB under Category I or II.
  • On active duty on Sept. 30, 1990, AND separated involuntarily after Feb. 2, 1991, OR involuntarily separated on or after Nov. 30, 1993, OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program.
  • Before separation, had military pay reduced by $1,200.

Category IV

  • On active duty on Oct. 9, 1996, AND had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date AND elected MGIB by Oct. 9, 1997, OR entered full-time National Guard duty under Title 32, USC, between July 1, 1985, and Nov. 28, 1989, AND elected MGIB during the period Oct. 9, 1996, through July 8, 1997.
  • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution.

VEAP is the post-Vietnam era Veterans Educational Assistance Program for those who entered active duty for the first time between Jan. 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985, and contributed to the VEAP fund while on active duty or had contributions made for them by the military.

To qualify you must meet the following requirements:

  • Entered service for the first time between Jan. 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985.
  • Opened a contribution account before April 1, 1987.
  • Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2,700.
  • Completed your first period of service.
  • Were discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.

If you are currently on active duty and wish to receive VEAP benefits, you must have at least three months of contributions available.

Service-disabled veterans may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Benefits may include education or training to qualify for employment, counseling, tutorial assistance, and medical services.

Educational benefits also are available to veterans' dependents if the veteran (spouse or parent) died in service, was totally disabled, or is listed as missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force or a foreign government power.

With the Veterans' Work-Study program, eligible veterans are paid for working at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. They earn the federal minimum or state minimum wage, whichever is lower. For more information, contact your college's Office of Veterans Affairs, the local office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (in the phone book under U.S. Government Offices), or call toll free 800.827.1000.

Athlete

Athletes considering a National Collegiate Athletic Association college should contact the NCAA for information on college recruiting rules, grade point average and testing requirements. Visit www.NCAA.orgnew_window or write to the NCAA at 700 W. Washington Ave., PO Box 6222, Indianapolis, IN, 46206-6222, or call 317.917.6222.