Veterans Affairs makes college affordable for veterans

Jozsef Papp

As tuition and fees continue to increase, people around the country continue to struggle to attend college and have to rely on student loans. The Veterans Affairs Educational Benefit Programs is trying to give veterans the opportunity to attend college and not worry about debt.

“I would say the sole purpose is to assist them with school, some type of monthly stipend, depending on their benefit, and books and supplies,” said Andrea Hagans, Veterans Affairs Administrative Coordinator. “The Post-9/11 [GI Bill] actually covers a percentage of their tuition and fees on top of a book stipend and a housing stipend that they will receive.” 

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an education benefit program open for any individual who has served on active duty after Sep. 10, 2001. In addition, dependents of service members who are veterans or died in duty are eligible for benefits. Veterans in the state of Georgia can receive the Georgia Hero Scholarship, which provides educational scholarship assistance to members of Georgia’s National Guard and U.S. Military service members as well as their dependents. 

“We have VA Educational Programs, so it’s the Post-9/11 benefit program. It’s the largest benefit program. It is available for servant members and their dependents, so spouse, children, and step-children, or anyone that is covered under their guardianship,” said Hagans. “We also have Dependence Assistance (DEA) that is for any service member that is 100 percent service disconnected from their dependent or anyone who has died during active duty.”

In order to receive benefits, veterans must apply online and receive a certificate of eligibility.

“If they are eligible for the benefits, they can apply online through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Affairs will process their application and send them a certificate of eligibility letter,” said Hagans. “All they have to do is bring that letter to the VA Educational Benefit Programs office, along with their school schedule, and we will certify their benefit to the VA.”

Currently about 700 students are receiving benefits including both veterans and dependents, according to Hagans.

Hagans encourages any veterans or dependents to take advantage of the educational benefits provided.

“I always encourage them to come to our office and reach-out to us that way we can help them work something out and help them get started,” said Hagans.

To apply and see if you are eligible for veterans benefits, please visit and contact the Veterans Affairs Office at Georgia Southern.