Higher Education - A Reality For Soldiers Email This Story Print This Story

Know Your Benefits, Make a plan: Higher Education A Reality For Service Members, Veterans

“Well, I joined so I could have a way to pay for college.”—Members of our military have been known to say this for years.

Reports vary, but generally reveal that for various reasons most eligible military service members and veterans never take advantage of the educational benefits available to them. In some cases they may discover they don’t have time, or don’t make the time in a busy schedule, to pursue college courses while simultaneously serving in the military. In other cases their goals may simply change over time or they perceive college as being outright cost prohibitive. In others it may simply be that the process and the information is all too confusing and they simply don’t want the hassle of trying to figure it all out.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that in school year 2003-04 the average cost of tuition, fees and room and board rates for all 4-year colleges (public and private combined) was $15, 504. It doesn’t take a math major to see that with those costs, attending a four year school until graduation can cost as much as $60,000 on average. With a little digging on the Internet one can discover that the Montgomery G.I. Bill will pay up to approximately $38,000 worth of education benefits, depending on individual duty status and eligibility. Right away, the same math major can come up with a predictable shortfall in financing a higher education.

The military student may have a bit of an advantage given the myriad of programs and benefits available to fund their education, but the best advice for active duty, reserve/Guard and veterans researching ways to pay for their education is to encourage them to seek out an education counselor. All services (Army, Navy, etc.) have counselors and programs with the sole purpose of assisting service members in reaching their educational goals and helping them identify the best sources of financing their dreams. These counselors and programs can help them identify all the other education benefit programs available for active duty, Guard/Reserve members and veterans through the various service education assistance agencies, the VA and state level programs.

In addition to these services and benefits available from the military there are Web sites for military personnel such as Army.com that have educational articles touching on a variety of options to pay for college including the GI Bill, Enlistment Bonuses, Private Student Loans, and Student Loan Debt Consolidation. Also included on this site is a number of forms to request additional information, have a military recruiter contact you, and to pre-qualify for a Private Student Loan or Student Debt Consolidation Loan.

The bottom line is typically this: a typical service member or veteran will have to muster some funding on his/her own to pay for their education at some point along the way. That’s where grants, scholarships and student loans fit into the equation.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study supports this statement. Data from the study shows that 63 percent of all undergraduate students in the nation received some type of financial aid in school year 2003-04 with approximately one-half receiving grants and another third taking out student loans. The average grant amount was less than the average loan amount at $4,000 and $5,800 respectively.

Military students like all other students must become savvy with all their options—veteran benefits, grants/scholarships, and student loans. By researching all the information and resources available, they will be better prepared to set goals for their education and develop sound financial plans to accomplish them.

Article Opinions

ramona muñoz wrote:

hello my name is ramona munoz I am dominican doctor graduated in the year of 2005.Actually I like to give my medical services to the military comunity and to be a member of the Army.
What can I do to be part of Army and to learn medecine in USA
Posted on 05/22/07 19:06:37

maximo guichardo wrote:

Hello I am dominican .I am 18 years old and I like to be member of army .
What can I do to be part of military army
Posted on 05/22/07 19:11:49

calvin.e.greene wrote:

I am a active resersist (TPU) soldier and I would like to find out does the military offer any type of tuition assistant to spouses. Could you like me up to the right source. Thank you
Posted on 06/28/07 10:10:56

D.L.Holt wrote:

I will be 18 in four months and it has been my dream for as long as I can remember to go to medical school and be a doctor or a P.A. I am interested in joining so I can get tuition to Emory School of Medicine paid. How can joining the Army help me do that?
Posted on 07/27/07 15:14:05

waltieria peterson wrote:

hi i am 20 and i have always wanted to attend college to major in psychology or nursing and i heard that the army can help with the tuition.how can joining the army help me and what field can i sign up for.
Posted on 08/01/07 14:08:17

jessica siedlik wrote:

my name is jessica siedlik iweat be in the army call me at 4783333417 now
thing you by now
Posted on 09/06/07 16:42:34

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Posted on 09/15/07 23:22:08

Khoa Tran wrote:

hi my name is Khoa, i am attending college right now, if i join the army can i still finishing with my career while serving the army? and is the army will help me with my tuition for the school
Posted on 11/19/07 01:56:14

James wrote:

what of prior enlisted veterans that want to re-enlist and wants to continue their education? Can eligibility for the Montgomery GI Bill be waived?
Posted on 11/27/07 17:38:48

Jacob wrote:

Hi I am in college right now and interested in serving in the Army. I am wondering what is the policy of the Army paying for privated student loans through a lender such as Citibank. So, if I apply for an CitiAssit Loan of $5000 through Citibank, when I join the Army will they pay for this or not? Thanks. God Bless America!
Posted on 12/06/07 14:01:26

Gaurav Kumar wrote:

Hi I am in college right now and interested in army quta(for management). So, if I apply for an
Posted on 01/17/08 04:26:19

Jonathan Wilks wrote:

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Posted on 03/28/08 15:17:09

roshod gaines wrote:

i want to join the army so i could be somthing in life to soupport mt troops in also to my state
Posted on 04/17/08 16:13:47

Anel Vásquez wrote:

i am dominican, i really want to be a member of the Army. my goal is to study Aviation Engineer and help in anything i can.
Posted on 06/24/08 17:22:22

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Posted on 09/27/08 03:27:34

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Posted on 09/30/08 02:30:53

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Posted on 10/01/08 12:35:24

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Posted on 10/06/08 16:56:09

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Posted on 10/06/08 23:31:33

Brianna Tekel wrote:

Next year I plan to go to UAB for a nursing career then would like to go into the army but as a nurse. How would I go about doing so?
Also, would the army plan for any of my college plans?
Posted on 01/15/10 13:26:03

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