A lot of students (military and non-military) question whether or not they should apply for financial aid. You should always apply for federal and state financial aid every aid year.
As a military student, or dependent/spouse of a military service member, you may be entitled to federal and state financial aid - including both grants and loans. To determine this eligibility, you will need to fill out the FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each academic year at www.fafsa.ed.gov
At MCC, our academic year starts with the Summer semester, goes through the Fall semester, and ends with the completion of the Spring semester. Ideally, you will want to apply for financial aid months in advance of whichever semester you are looking to enroll in. Some students are required to provide extra paperwork (i.e. requests for special circumstances, verification, etc.), so giving yourself extra time to complete the process will hopefully provide you with more time to figure out your finances.
Under Chapter 30, Chapter 1606, Chapter 1607, Chapter 35, and VRAP educational benefits, since the VA does not pay your tuition directly, you may be eligible to receive both federal and state financial aid. This would include Pell (a grant given based on need by the Federal government); TAP (a grant given based on need by the NY state government); VTA (Veteran Tuition Award); and also student loans if needed.
Under Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 - at the 100% rate) and Chapter 31 (Voc Rehab) educational benefits, since the VA will directly pay your full tuition and fees, you may not use state financial aid such as TAP and VTA. However, if you are a student receiving Chapter 33 benefits at the 40%-90% rate, the VA will only cover that amount - so you may be eligible to use state awards to supplement some of what the VA does not cover.
It is also a good idea to find out what you may be eligible for in terms of financial aid because you may want to forgo using your VA benefits. You may want to save them for another time after you leave MCC where they can cover higher tuition amounts at four-year schools.