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Is applying for college during a military contract a good idea to save money, and have the ability to make more at the same time? ?

I would like to go into the Air Force after I am out of high school, and was wondering if going to college for Aviation Mechanizing and having the government pay for it was a good idea, especially on a fixed contract.

Thank you comment icon Hello Onyx If you are in the final years of your contract and you want to investigate colleges and apply to a few to start once you are out. My suggestion is to take college courses that will transfer to the university or college you wish to attend once you are out. I left the military in 98 with over 100 credit hours. Not everything transferred to my college but enough did so I never had more than 4 classes a semester and most semesters I had three classes. Between the old GI bill and work, I got an AS and a BS without having any student loans. So, yes apply to colleges but also do all you can to set yourself up for success before you leave the military. John Medeiros MS EHS

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Subject: Career question for you

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Jesse’s Answer

Hey Onyx,

I’m a Medic and moonlighted as one to make couple extra thousand a month on-top of my base pay. Ask your chain of command first, apply for approval and get a part time job even if it has nothing to do with your military occupation. However, need to recognize burn out and balance school in between. It’s hard but doable.

Depending on if you’re active duty, you can use tuition assistance, save the money and put it into investing or a Roth IRA. Think about a high-yield savings account and build credit. I’ve heard of people also taking out a $2,000 loan from their banks, not spending it on anything and pay it off in a reasonable time before the interest adds up….then do it again.

Don’t worry about impressing other people in your peer group. You don’t need a new car, fully furnished house, newest electronics etc. That will all come to you someday. Need to be patient. Nobody will care about your brand new Cummins Ram 2500.

Play your cards right and you can be debt free, great credit and transferable skills after your service.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Onyx
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Kiffany’s Answer

100% TAKE AS MANY CREDITS AS POSSIBLE WHILE YOU'RE ON ACTIVE DUTY.

Get as much free schooling as you possibly can. Even just getting your general ed out of the way. It's paid for 100%. Even if you choose a different path or degree when you're out, you'll build a base for free that you won't have to pay for later in loans. I did not take classes while I was on active-duty Air Force and regret it entirely. Yes, you have your GI Bill when you get out, but that doesn't cover nearly enough.

Regardless of your path, get as much free school as possible!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is amazing! I really needed it. Onyx
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Rorique’s Answer

I served as an aircraft mechanic (Electro/Environmental) in the US Air Force for 24 years. There is a balance to what you are looking for. In the military, you can offset a lot of the tuition by two paths: Tuition Assistance, which you can use while serving, and the GI Bill, normally used after service. To top that off, there are skills you can gather just by working which can be used as credits as certain colleges.

Here's the thing: it can be difficult to find the time to actually take courses. It takes longer than the traditional college path for many people, especially in the aircraft maintenance world. There will be long hours, shift changes, deployments, last minute TDYs, details, and even military based courses which come when they come, regardless of your personal schedule. Many people have to drop classes because of this. It is not impossible, but it is harder than other avenues. A big plus to going this route is the fact that you will have gained experience those simply taking the courses won't have.
Thank you comment icon Thanks, can't wait to put this advice into action! Onyx
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Murph,’s Answer

I believe having the military pay for your college is an excellent idea. Why? No loan debt afterwards! But here's the rub...sometimes you won't be able to start college until after you have completed your military obligations. There is a chance that you won't start college immediately. If that's not a problem, then go for it. But I would say have a long talk with whatever branch of the military you plan on going into, letting them know your plans and figure out a path where you can do both, create a timeline and maybe even have the military pay for a second degree, law degree, etc etc. But at the end of the day, the military will want to know how it will benefit them. Make the decision work for you both.
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david’s Answer

Getting an education in the military can be a wise choice; it's also an excellent preparation for becoming a confident adult. I spent four years in the military after HS and never regretted it, plus it helped me toward my degree. In making this decision, do stay aware of the fact that the military's needs come first. Talk openly with your recruiter so that you understand all the possibilities. Your first, and only, priority initially will be to become proficient in whatever career you learn. Only then should you take college courses while working. Remember also that you will be a member of the military, subject to being responsible for following all directives, such as reassignments. That is, you will not be 'just' an aviation mechanic; you will be a uniformed member of the military. Wear the uniform proudly.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, david! Onyx
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Jonny’s Answer

The military constantly encourages you to seek more education while on active duty. However, I recommend waiting until you've completed your basic training and any additional courses before applying. Don't worry, college will still be available after you finish your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) Schooling. Plus, you can't predict what your work life will be like just yet. So, it's best to wait until you're more comfortable in your job and surroundings before applying.
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Eric’s Answer

Onyx,

I think is a great idea. I’m a bit biased because I’m a Navy Recruiter, but taking advantage of the education benefits a service has to offer is just plain smart. Aside from receiving education benefits, you’ll be getting paid, trained, and working in a, hopefully relevant, job, acquiring experience to increase your prospects for job opportunities at the end of your contract in the Air Force. I would only caution you to become masterful in time management. The only reason I earned my bachelors and masters while operational in the Navy was because of a decent internet connection and time management.


Very Respectfully,
Eric E. Hopkins, MHA, RMA
HM2(FMF), USN
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. Do you have any tips for time management while enlisted? Onyx
Thank you comment icon Personal, work, fitness, sleep, eating, and school: these are going to be your biggest consumers of your time. 1) Work is going to be mostly out of your control, so I recommend combining with eating so you can make things more efficient. 2) only sacrifice sleep if you can manage it. 3) never sacrifice fitness. Your health is the glue that holds all elements of your life together. 4) put time limits on your personal time while you’re young to stay structured. Routines trend to break as you get older, especially when you have a family. Eric Hopkins, MHA
Thank you comment icon Alright, thank you again so much even for this second response, and I will keep everything from the answered questions in mind. Have a great night/day! Onyx
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Mark’s Answer

YES. I started as a Mess Management Specialist (USN-JFK-CV67 first Boat), Got Rated in 8 other MOS'S (USA,USN). Used by GI bill to get 2 Degrees. Volunteer to learn in other Dept./Shops. Example I had no clue how to do Aviation Electronic repairs. By volunteering, Called Striker in my day, I got rated in AE. So think about it. I got out on a Med-service connected & first job offer I had in the civilian world was from Boeing Corp.
So think about it strongly.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Onyx
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