If you are interested in serving in the armed forces, you can both enlist for active duty, and gain a college education. There are a variety of financial aid options available that will assist you before, during, and after military service. Before you decide which path to take, you'll want to understand the financial aid options available to you, and how they may help you to meet your short- and long-term goals.
If you want to both serve your country and benefit from a college education, there are financial aid options that will help you to pay for college expenses if you commit to future military service. Funding is available to help offset the cost of college coursework while you participate in such military prep programs as Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTCS) and Officer Training Schools (OTS) as part of your college curriculum. Such programs will expose you to the fundamentals of military training while still giving you a traditional college experience.
Scholarships are available that provide full or partial payment of school tuition for the years in which you attend both college classes and participate in military prep programing. Available scholarships even help pay approved college fees, and some of the costs associated with textbooks.
Keep in Mind
Available scholarships will likely not cover all of the expenses associated with a four-year college. You may need to consider other student financial aid options to cover additional expenses. Your first source should be federal student aid and can be applied for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are many financial aid options available for current service members to help you earn a college degree while participating in active duty. One option includes federal funding for the reimbursement of college tuition credits and fees, such as through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and the Yellow Ribbon Program. Active military service members are also eligible for special financial assistance loans to help pay for the expenses associated with college.
Federal student aid programs offer extremely low interest loans and grant money to help you pay tuition, books, fees, and living expenses while serving active duty.
Keep in Mind
Some programs require a high school diploma or equivalency certificate, or 12 hours of college credit before you are eligible to apply for benefits. If you plan to attend a private or foreign school, tuition and fees are capped at a national maximum rate.
There are repayment programs available to discharged service members to help repay student loans and other debt associated with college tuition and enrollment. Some educational assistance programs provide cash and other funding for service members to repay college student loans, helping service members to eliminate debt associated with their college education.
Since 9/11 the federal government has passed important legislation to help service members repay college tuition. Now more than ever, service members are able to earn an education and serve their country without accumulating significant debt.
Keep in Mind
Some benefits are not available until after your discharge from active duty, and some require an honorable discharge.
Before deciding how and when to earn your college degree, consider all of the financial aid options available to eligible service members, and consider which option may best suit your needs and help you meet your long-term goals.