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Student Veterans

If you are a veteran, guardsman, or reservist, you should make your first contact with the UMass Amherst Veterans Services Office, which is a part of the Dean of Students Office. The Veterans Services Office will help with the process of applying for and maintaining educational benefits available through the Montgomery GI Bill and other programs, as well as navigating the bureaucracy of federal and state programs.

Certification

To receive GI Bill benefits, new student veterans must be certified. Through this process, the Veterans Services Office certifies that you have applied for benefits and that you will attend UMass Amherst. They then inform the federal VA office of your attendance and credit totals. You will find more details on certification at the Veterans Services Web site under Information for New Student Veterans.

Applying for Financial Aid

Although veterans apply for military education benefits through the federal and state VA Offices, you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for other forms of financial aid.

There are a few special circumstances that apply to veterans and service members applying for financial aid with the FAFSA. These include the way that financial aid takes into account your educational benefits, and other income like combat pay, when determining your financial need. It also includes the way that Financial Aid Services determines your status as a veteran and whether you are an independent or dependent student.

The FinAid! Web site provides a clear explanation of these circumstances. Visit this site to fully understand how to complete the FAFSA as a veteran and how your veteran status will affect your aid eligibility.

Tuition Waivers for Massachusetts Residents

Massachusetts residents who are veterans or active members of the armed forces are eligible for Categorical Tuition Waivers when they apply for financial aid. Tuition Waivers cover tuition at UMass Amherst, but not other costs, such as fees and room and board. To receive a waiver, you must bring your DD 214 (military separation papers) to the Veterans Services Office in 19 Dickinson Hall and complete paperwork. This process will notify Financial Aid Services of your status, which we will take into account in determining your financial aid package.

Visit the Web site of the Massachusetts' Office of Student Financial Assistance for more details about the Categorical Tuition Waivers, including eligibility.

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities For Students (HEROES)

The HEROES Act (Public Law 108-76) was passed in 2003 to ensure that a service member’s military status does not cause hardships in applying for and receiving federal student aid. The act allows the Department of Education to waive or modify certain regulations pertaining to financial aid during times of war, military operation, or national emergency. The HEROES act may affect service members and their spouses and dependents in many different ways, including the way that Financial Aid Services determines financial need, the process of verification, and the process of monitoring Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). It can also affect the grace period and the deferment period a service member has for loan repayment when called to active duty.

The FinAid! Web site provides an excellent explanation of the HEROES Act as well as links to the actual text.