15 facts about Active Duty & College
Let’s talk about Active Duty military and attending college. I have personal experience while helping my husband navigate the process of attending a military friendly college that I go to. I created a comprehensive list to make this comprehensive and simple.
1. A military friendly college means they:
accept the G.I. Bill or the transferability runs smoothly, they have extra scholarships and incentives for active duty, veterans and often times spouses. These colleges are known for being accessible online, however you can take classes in person. Did you know that various colleges participate at the Base Education Center and offer classes?
2. Attendance is practical. They have experience working with your schedule. You will be attending online classes with other active duty. A military friendly college caters to active duty personnel, veterans and their families.
3. Setting up T.A. (Tuition Assistance) is not a difficult process. Talk to your chain of command and then go to the career planner on base. Before every class you will get a T.A. waiver and you will need to fill it out and submit before classes start. Simple.
4. If you take classes as Active Duty, you are eligible for T.A meaning the military covers your entire tuition, limited to a certain amount of credits. To cover any spaces that T.A does not pay or, a grant or scholarship will.
5. Despite common belief, Active duty is eligible to fill out the FASFA. If you are found eligible for the federal Pell Grant, among other grants and scholarships (we have many in CA, but it defers upon states) that is extra cash in your pocket, books payed for, and separately your servicemember will have their classes paid for by the military. I urge all active duty to utilize these resources.
6. Only a small amount of Active Duty goes to college, so that means a lot of extra money in the federal bucket waiting for you-especially if you apply early.
7. Many servicemembers wait until they EAS to go to college. While this can have its perks if you already have a set living situation, it can be extremely hard in this economy.
8. You can save your GI Bill if you go to college during your enlistment
9. You have rights. Under the SCRA you are able to take a break from school when duty calls, while remaining enrolled and not suffering any consequences.
10. Military friendly schools are accommodating to servicemembers, especially even when they deploy. Let both your school counselor and your professors know that you’re deploying and they will accommodate to your schedule. Be sure to look up school reviews for this topic.
11. If you choose to stay in the military while earning your degree, you can then go to Officer Candidacy School after graduation. That means significantly bumping up your income and change of lifestyle.
12. Many military friendly schools are accelerated. This means you can earn a a bachelor’s degree in about 3 years or less with a lot of hard work, focus, and dedication. It typically takes a civilian 6 years on average to earn what was once known as a 4 year degree. Keep your eye on the prize.
13. There are 4 year military colleges as well. You do not have to choose an accelerated program
14. Research before you attend. Look at the graduation rate vs. dropout rate, and retention rate. These stats can be found while you’re working on your FAFSA application. These are very important statistics. Look up reviews online in any place you can find them. ASK ASK ASK questions. Ask students who attend, ask the school counselor any questions you have and even email the professor to see if they will work with you and your lifestyle.
15. The military does not last forever. Even if you become an officer and make a lot of money while making smart financial choices. Your education will always be the #1 thing you can fall back on. Always prepare for the unknown, and a good education is the place to start.