As you know colleges and universities charge fees for tuition, admissions applications, enrollment, books, technical support, labs, transcripts - the list goes on. What you may not know is that if you don't use military tuition assistance, you, not DoD or VA, are responsible for paying all of these fees. The schools hold you responsible for paying these fees because the GI Bill is paid directly to you, the student, not the school. This means the school has no guarantee that they are going to be paid.
Note: Each school's policies differ on how this money is collected, but in most cases you will be asked to sign a promissory note, apply for student aid, or both.
That is why it is important for you the servicemember or veteran to apply for Federal Student Aid (FSA). FSA can help defer your out-of-pocket expenses until your GI Bill payments start coming in. In addition to low interest loans, FSA also offers grants that do not require repayment. You can see a list of available FSA options below.
The key here is to make sure you avoid long-term student debt and interest charges by paying off the FSA "Direct Loans" as soon as the GI Bill payments start hitting your bank account.