Whether someone is still in the military or a veteran, attending college and finding financial aid is easier than ever thanks to the GI Bill and other forms of financial assistance.
Whether you choose to get an education online while you're on active duty or you'd prefer to live on campus after you're discharged, there are plenty of options for service members to get an education.
The days of believing that you have to pick between active military service and a college degree are over. Even while you're serving in the military, online college programs or classes at nearby campuses can allow you to get an education, and there are plenty of ways to pay for your degree as well.
The GI Bill is one of the most important components of any military member's financial aid plan, as it can cover some or all of the costs of your schooling. And finding a suitable college program shouldn't be difficult, whether you're on base, deployed or retired. Online programs are flexible choices for soldiers deployed overseas, and educational programs may also be offered through a particular branch of the military.
Often, service members and veterans will find that their military experience can help them get ahead in college or even earn college credits. The discipline that comes with being in the military is useful when forming study plans, managing class schedules and meeting deadlines in college.
In addition, relevant experience may be applied to your degree. For instance, if you were involved with journalism during your service, such as working for Stars and Stripes or AFN, you might be able to earn credit for communications classes. If you served as a medic, your hours of training may apply toward hours of coursework for a medical program.
Your college search will probably start as any traditional student's would. Do your research and find schools that interest you with programs that fit your educational goals. You'll also want to make sure that the colleges you choose to apply to have learning options that fit your situation. You may need to focus on schools near your base, or you might opt for an online-only program if you're stationed overseas.
If you're a veteran, you may also need to think about the availability of housing. Will you need to look at apartments nearby, or do you want to live on campus? Of course, you'll also want to look into the different types of financial assistance available, both traditional and from military-specific programs, before making your decision.
Paying for college is a big concern for most students, but it's much less of an issue for service members, thanks to a variety of assistance programs available to both active-duty and retired soldiers, sailors and aviators.
The GI Bill is perhaps the largest and most well-known source of funding for college-bound military members. Tuition Assistance programs are also available through each service branch for those on active duty. Colleges may also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which can make additional funds available for your schooling.
Other organizations, such as AMVETS and the Disabled American Veterans, offer scholarships that can help cover your educational costs. No matter which type of academic program you choose, financial assistance is available to help you complete it.