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Getting a college degree can improve your career and promotion opportunities, and more than double your annual income. But a college degree doesn't come cheap. Although there is great return on your investment, chances are you had some sticker shock when you learned the actual cost of earning a bachelor's or master's degree.

As a servicemember or veteran, you are likely eligible for the GI Bill, and in most cases these benefits will cover most of your expenses, however, there is a good chance that your college related fees and expenses may exceed your benefits and if it has been more than ten years since you left the military, your benefits may have already expired. So what can you do to cover these expenses?

Fortunately, there's Federal Student Aid (FSA), a program that offers cash grants (that you don't have to pay back) and low-interest student loans. This money can be used to supplement your GI Bill and ensure you have the money to get your degree.

The amount and type of FSA you get is based on your financial status and level of need. Since the pool of FSA money is limited, and available to every prospective student on a "first come, first served" basis.  The key to ensuring you get one of these grants is to apply early. 

Correctly filling out the FAFSA as early as possible is critical. Your place in line is determined by the date stamped on your accepted application. If your application is incomplete or incorrect, it will be returned for corrections and your re-submitted application will go to the bottom of the pile. So, when you fill out the FAFSA make sure you fill it out correctly the first time.

Watch a 5-Minute FAFSA video clip to find out what the FAFSA is all about and how to correctly fill it out.

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GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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