Monday, July 9, 2012

Join the Military today, leave tomorrow get free money?

I'm always looking for ways to exploit weaknesses in programs.  Whether it is a video game, or tax legislation...this is something I enjoy doing.  This personality trait probably stems from my dad who was a software tester.  From what his coworkers told us, he was one of the best their was.  As a software tester, it's your job to be sceptical.  To believe that the programmers didn't write their code correctly.  To debug the software.  All I really know was that he would bring home these reams of paper that had old code on one side.  We would use the other side as scrap paper.  After understanding what he did on a daily bases, I understood that I didn't want to do that.  Too much work I thought.


When I got out of the Army I applied for financial aid.  I went to the FAFSA website and filled it out.  I thought that because I was married I was considered as no longer under my parents "umbrella" and was able to get about $6,000 in Pell Grants each year I went to school.  This was a huge bonus for me.  I got to go to school for free using Pell Grants, and financial aid from my employer, and got the GI Bill that gave me $1,150 per month.  I was on easy street for about 3 years until...I finally graduated and had to grow up some more.

Today I was talking with one of my highly intelligent Military Millionaire readers.  He mentioned that his son who was recently discharged from the service was eligible for the Pell Grant as well.  This was news to me.  I thought you had to be married or over a certain age to no longer be considered supported by your parents.

However, by being a veteran this makes you eligible for Pell Grants right after you get discharged.  The FAFSA website states that you are a veteran if you:

"Have engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard), or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies, and

Were released under a condition other than dishonorable"

It doesn't state any time requirement to be a veteran.  My interpretation (which might be meaningless) means you could join active duty today, go to reception tomorrow, get injured or discharged and come back home to free higher education.  Obviously this can happen in two days, but it could very well occur.  I remember as clear as day that after about a week or two of basic training the drill sergeants had us all in a classroom.  They asked if anyone did not want to be here.  If anyone felt like they made a mistake.  If so, raise your hand and we will process you to be discharged.  A couple people raised their hands, and sure enough they were on the way to being outprocessed.  Did they go back home and get Pell Grants?  I have no idea.

This brings me to ethics.  Would this be ethical to do something like this?  Absolutely not.  Would it be worth all the pain and suffering to get accepted into the world's greatest military just to bail out for $20k in Pell Grants?  Some might be tempted.  However, rules can change in a heartbeat.  I'm positive if about several hundred people tried this, someone would figure it out.  Then the rules would be changed, and the loophole would be closed.

Disclosure:  Again, Military Millionaire does not condone using such practices as listed above.  However, for those who legitimately get discharged prematurely...at least this would be good news for you.






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