What Are Veteran Debt Relief Grants?

What Is a Government Debt Relief Program?
Erik J. MartinJune 2, 2022
Key Takeaways:
  • There are several veteran and military programs designed to help with finances and debt including VFW unmet needs grants.
  • However, there is no government program for consumer debt relief for veterans.
  • Debt consolidation, debt management, and debt settlement may offer relief.

Are you a military veteran, active-duty servicemember, or a military family member who is having trouble paying the bills and experiencing financial hardship? The good news is that there are veteran debt relief grants and other resources for which you may be eligible including disabled veteran debt relief grants. Learn more about how to get consumer debt relief and how to take advantage of veteran debt relief grants available.

Why Many Veterans Suffer Financial Challenges

Plenty of military veterans, active-duty military members, and loved ones in their households confront difficulties during or after military service. These troubles can make it tough to stay financially afloat and meet important goals in life, such as purchasing or keeping a home, remaining healthy, saving for retirement or a child’s college fund, orgetting out of debt.

The 2020 Military Financial Readiness Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that 54% of servicemembers are “just getting by financially,” up from 43% in 2019. Additionally, Active duty servicemembers are much more likely than the general population (86% versus 69%) to fret about personal finances. While 49% wish they had more information about financial resources tailored to veterans and 50% believe there aren’t enough financial resources available for veterans.

“Many of these individuals experience mental health challenges directly or indirectly related to their service, as well,” saysBrian Martucci, finance editor for Money Crashers in Minneapolis. “These difficulties may impact their ability to work full-time or at the same level of productivity as before.”

Servicemembers and their loved ones are typically more vulnerable to financial scams, too.

“They often move, they may not have robust social networks outside the military, and their financial lives can be more uncertain. Collectively, these conditions create an opening for financial predators,” Martucci cautions.

Military families may also be increasingly reliant on the veteran’s or servicemember’s income, which may not be sufficient to make ends meet.

“It’s difficult for military spouses to pursue lucrative careers, or the degrees necessary for those careers when they are moving every few years and taking on disproportionate duties at home,” he adds.

Government Consumer Debt Relief for Veterans?

Unfortunately, there is no official government program in place offering consumer debt relief for veterans, active-duty military members, or their families.

“The sense of urgency to create such a program may be dulled by the existence of other financial protections for this population and their families, such as the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act,” Martucci explains. “At the very least, servicemembers and their families would benefit from a government campaign to promote nonprofit credit counseling solutions, which aren’t as well-known as they should be.”

Thankfully, eligible applicants can take advantage of veteran debt relief grants and financial resources, including disabled veteran debt relief grants.

“There are many programs that offer services to active-duty military members, veterans, and their respective families,” says Bruce Mendelsohn, a US Army veteran and the resource development coordinator for the City of Worcester’s MassHire Central Region Workforce Board in Worcester, Massachusetts. “The gamut of legitimate programs runs from federal, state, and municipal government programs to foundation programs offered by corporate, private, or individual entities to nonprofits.”

Mendelsohn notes that eligibility for debt relief, financial assistance, and funding from these sources often depends on the veteran’s age, disability rating (if applicable), living status, geographic location, financial need, and other criteria that may or may not be related to the veteran’s military service.

“Some states offer more government assistance programs to veterans than others. For example, Massachusetts has numerous debt relief and financial assistance programs available for veterans,” he continues.

On the downside, navigating the landscape of available resources can be challenging, particularly when it comes to debt relief and financial assistance.

“Because many of the programs can be confusing, patience and persistence are required to navigate the various eligibility and application processes,” suggests Mendelsohn.

He recommends first asking your local veteran’s service officer or transition coordinator for resources and references. Next, do your due diligence by researching reputable organizations known for debt relief and/or financial assistance programs, including those offering grants and financial aid.

What are veteran debt relief grants? These grants often provide free money, with no repayment required, to eligible veterans and disabled veterans, servicemembers, and their families. Read on for veteran debt relief grant programs available and other helpful resources and financial protections in place that you can check out.

Grantwatch.com

Currently, 172 grants for veterans can be searched for at Grantwatch.com, including veteran grants for residences and home improvement, grants for disabled veterans, small business grants for veterans, and grants for individuals and organizations supporting veterans and their families.

Unmet Needs

Unmet Needs provides grants and referrals to veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and their immediate family members. The program offers financial aid grants of up to $1,500 to assist with basic life needs in the form of a grant (not a loan), so no repayment is needed. To further ease the financial burden, Unmet Needs pays the creditor directly.

Homeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem program

The Homeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program aid homeless veterans who need mental health and/or substance use treatment. Eligible vets can remain in this program at a participating facility for up to two years while striving for employment, recovery, and independent living skills. Additionally, the GPD program offers case management grants to support housing retention for veterans who were previously homeless and are transitioning to permanent housing. Operational costs of organizations participating in this program, including salaries, may be funded by the per diem component. For supportive housing, the maximum amount payable under the per diem is currently $58.55 per day. Veterans in supportive housing may be asked to pay rent if it does not exceed 30% of their adjusted monthly income.

Finaid.org

There are several student financial aid programs for veterans and their dependents. This portal at Finaid.org provides many helpful links to student aid-related resources that you and your eligible loved ones can research and apply for available from the government, as well as sources of educational assistance offered by outside organizations, including Army Emergency Relief, the Air Force Aid Society, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Coast Guard Mutual Aid, the ThanksUSA Scholarship Program, and Pell Grants for qualified applicants.

Grants.gov

Grants.gov, managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a wealth of information on various grants and sources where you can apply for them.

Veterans Housing Benefit program

VA housing assistance can help veterans, servicemembers, and their surviving spouses purchase a home or refinance a mortgage with aVA loan. It also offers benefits and services to help you build, improve, or keep your current home.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act’s (SCRA’s) benefits and protections include a 6% interest rate cap on financial obligations that were incurred before military service, the ability to stay civil court proceedings, protections in connection with default judgments, protections in connection with residential (apartment) lease terminations, and protections in connection with evictions, mortgage foreclosures, and installment contracts such as car loans.

Military Lending Act

TheMilitary Lending Act (MLA) applies to active-duty servicemembers (including those on active Guard or active Reserve duty), spouses, and certain dependents. It limits the interest rates that may be charged on many types of consumer loans to no more than 36% and provides other essential protections.

Veterans Cemetery Grants program

Through the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) offers grants to states, US territories, and tribes to help provide final resting places for eligible veterans and family members where VA national cemeteries cannot meet burial needs. Grants may be used to establish, expand, or improve veterans’ cemeteries.

Debt management help and nonprofit credit counseling

Need debt relief help and sound financial advice? If you have challenges paying your unsecured debts each month, a debt management plan (DMP) from a nonprofit credit counseling agency may be the best solution. A DMP program can combine your unsecured debts, such as credit card bills, payday loan payments, medical bills, and utility bills, into a single payment. This can reduce your interest rates significantly and provide a structured schedule for repaying your debt over three to five years.

You can research and find nonprofit credit counseling agencies online or visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) for advice and solutions you can pursue.

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