If you see yourself enlisting in the armed forces after you've earned a degree, know that there are many financial aid options available to help you pay for the expenses associated with college, as long as you make a commitment for future service. Such programs help students to limit college debt and help pay for such expenses as textbooks, and room and board, while preparing them for the time in which they will be enlisted. Financial aid is available to help you pay for enrollment in such programs as Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), Service Academies, Officer Training and Candidate Schools, Senior Military Colleges, and the National Call to Service Program.
ROTC offers college students an opportunity to earn a foundational experience of military training simultaneously while earning a college degree. Many colleges and universities across the country offer ROTC programs. Scholarships are available directly from the ROTC that will cover most of your college expenses in exchange for military training during school, as well as a commitment to active duty military service after graduation.
The U.S. Coast Guard does not offer a ROTC program, however they do offer a program called the College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative(CSPI).
If you are looking for an experience that will give you sense of what living in a military environment full-time is like, service academies offer students a college education within a formal military academy setting. Enrolled students become commissioned as officers and are required to serve a minimum of five years of active duty. Each branch of the armed forces manages a service academy and offers accepted students full four-year scholarships. During your four years, tuition, room and board, textbooks, and health care are paid in full.
- U.S. Air Force Academy - Colorado Springs, Colorado
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy - New London, Connecticut
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy - Kings Point, New York
- U.S. Military Academy (West Point) - West Point, New York
- U.S. Naval Academy - Annapolis, Maryland
Officer Candidate and Officer Training Schools
If your goal is to serve as an officer, officer training and candidate schools specifically work to prepare young men and women for military leadership positions. Scholarships and financial aid, including monthly stipends, are typically available to eligible candidates during their school enrollment.
- U.S. Air Force Officer Training School
- U.S. Army Officer Candidate School
- U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School
- U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School
- U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School
Senior Military Colleges
There are six senior military colleges in the United States that offer specific, focused military ROTC training in a military environment. Financial aid is available for enrolled cadets to help pay for textbooks, room and board, and health care. Upon graduation, any cadet that received financial aid is required to serve active duty.
- Norwich University - Northfield, Vermont
- Texas A&M University - College Station, Texas
- The Citadel - Charleston, South Carolina
- University of North Georgia - Dahlonega, Georgia
- Virginia Military Institute - Lexington, Virginia
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) - Blacksburg, Virginia
National Call to Service Program
The National Call to Service Program provides financial assistance to men and women before they perform national service as an incentive. Participants who receive an educational assistance incentive are not entitled to all other forms of financial aid, unless specific eligibility requirements are met. A variety of incentives are available, including a cash bonus, repayment of qualified student loans up to a maximum dollar amount, and entitlement to an allowance of funds. It is important to note that individuals who obtain financial aid through National Call to Service Program must commit to three tiers of service that takes about two years to complete, and that includes a 15-month tour of active duty.
The opportunity to experience military training before full enlistment, and while earning college credits, is an opportunity for many young men and women to accomplish two important goals: national service and personal education. With financial aid, scholarships, stipends, and incentive programs available, you have the opportunity to earn your degree without incurring significant student loan debt, setting you on a long-term path to success.