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Military Finances 201: Do GI Bill Benefits Affect Financial Aid and the FAFSA?

College Planning Military Pay and Benefits Veterans Benefits

If you've transferred GI Bill benefits to a child, how will that affect his or her ability to get needs-based financial aid for college? For many active or retired senior military officers and NCOs, the question may be moot, as family income may already severely limit the access to needs-based financial aid. But that may not always be the case. So, do GI Bill benefits affect financial aid?

The short answer is "No". You might think that at least the BAH portion would have to be reported as income, but it isn't. Tuition covered by the GI Bill isn't counted either.

So, use your GI Bill and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You never know what might happen

The Same Rules Don't Apply to All VA or Military Benefits

The same can't be said for some other VA or military benefits.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) does count as income when completing the FAFSA. Some other types of VA education benefits like work study programs also count as income and must be reported on the FAFSA. While likely not a factor if you've given your GI Bill benefits to a child, VA Disability Compensation needs to be reported on the FAFSA.

Combat pay is not reported when completing the FAFSA either. As you complete your FAFSA based on your income from two years prior, this could affect you or your child after your retire.

Military and Veteran Finances are Different

Just like a military career is different than a civilian career, military and veteran finances are different form civilian finances. If you're considering working with a financial advisor, we think you should work with one that deals with those differences every day. Give us a call if you'd like to chat.


If you found this article useful, you might like the following blog posts:

Coordinating GI Bill Benefits and Scholarships


VA Education Benefits for Spouses and Kids


Congress Provides "Guidance" to DoD on GI Bill Benefit Transfers




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