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Is military truly the best way to pay for college?

I have many friends who went to college and never been to the military, and vice versa many friends who were in the military and never attended college.

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Meighan’s Answer

Andre,

Joining the military is ONE way to pay for college, but NOT the only way. Joining the military is a major life decision that requires a lot of reflection on whether this lifestyle is right for you. There are a lot of stresses and demands on those in the military, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding profession. Speaking for myself, I love the people I serve with and they have become like a family to me. However, if you do not have a passion for service already, joining the military solely for college benefits will likely leave you unfulfilled.

If you do decide the military is right for you there is one major decision you would make right away-whether to enlist or pursue a commission. I will not speak to the education options available to you in the Navy for both paths.

If you enlist, you may use Tuition Assistance (TA) and Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE). These programs allow you to work on college credits in your off duty time, while still in the service.

If you pursue a commission, the Naval Academy or a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Program will allow you to pursue your college education concurrent with your military training, so that when you graduate college, you also commission in the Navy or Marine Corps. Depending how long you stay in, certain programs allow Officers to pursue graduate education.

After service (provided you meet requirements for time in service) as either an Enlisted service member or an Officer, you may be eligible for GI Bill Benefits. The GI Bill is an option if you want to pursue education after leaving service, either your college degree or graduate education.

These options are brief overview of education benefits for service members and by no means are the only options. I encourage you to continue researching on your own, and also discuss you options with a trusted adult or mentor.

Best of luck to you!

-Meighan



Meighan recommends the following next steps:

Read more about the difference between enlisting and becoming an Officer from one of my other answers here: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/320388/what-do-i-need-to-study-to-get-in-to-the-military
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Read an Op-Ed about becoming an Officer here: https://gcaptain.com/why-in-this-covid-ridden-world-would-you-ever-want-to-become-a-naval-officer/
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Learn more about TA and NCPACE here: https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/sailors/tuition-assistance-ncpace.htm
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Learn more about ROTC Programs here: https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/rotc-scholarships-navy.html
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Learn more about the US Naval Academy here: https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/index.php
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John’s Answer

I have three degrees including a Masters in Environmental Health and Safety. All paid for by the military. I will say that the military is A Way to pay for your degree. Ideally, you would have applied yourself and gotten good grades in at least the last two years of high school but even if you haven't there are grants and scholarship all over the place. Look them up, find someone who can help you look them up or even hire someone who can tell you the best ways to find them. Then, work your butt off filling them out and answer all questions completely. College isn't easy and working hard to find others to pay for it will be the first step to the future person you will be.


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David’s Answer

It is one of many options. You can pay for college just by the merits of your educational achievement. However, the military does offer great educational benefits that may be tied to your contract. They offer tuition assistance, scholarships, and even student loan repayment programs. If you do consider the military as an option to pay for school, consider every branch and look into the different career opportunties that may or may not be within your interests.


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Falesha’s Answer

The military is a great way to pay for college. It isn't always the best way to pay for college. Every persons situation is different. I would strongly weigh my options. After 20 years I was able to obtain a Masters, BA and AA. Now that I have retired with my degrees I have the option to continue college or transfer my benefits to my kids.


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Nicolas’s Answer

Andre S. , the military is one option in paying for college. Joining the military just for paying college would probably lead to some disappointment. If you enlist in the military or attend as an ROTC Cadet, you will be obligated to remain the military for a number of years, sort of paying back the military for assisting with paying for your college education. If you look at the military as a means to supplement your college education AND provide you with meaningful work experience, then this would be the route to take. When you enter the military you will be provided other experiences that many college students do not experience as well as many civilians. Talk to your family, friends, family members who have served in the military. I have served 27 years in the Army Reserves and currently still serving. Serving in the military has its risk of possible deployment to defend the Constitution, take a look at the issues in North Korea, Middle East, Europe. It is a sacrifice, but the rewards are high of serving and having the military assist you in obtaining your goal to graduate. The positive is that you will learn a possible skill(s) in the military that would be transferable to the civilian sector. For example, if you are interested in Cyber, the military trains you for this, the civilian sector is hiring cyber specialists. There are other military specialties that do that same. in the end, for my 27+ years of serving, I will be receiving a retirement from the military, my daughters will have some of their college education paid for as well. Good luck.

Nicolas recommends the following next steps:

talk to members of the military in your family, friends to discuss the commitment of serving in the military.
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Talk to a military recruiter about options for paying for college: (1) ROTC or (2) enlistment
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