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Financial Aid for Military Service

By Kay Peterson, Ph.D.

September 04, 2008

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard can offer a lot of assistance for students heading to college. Whether you’re a veteran, a child or spouse of a veteran, or a student planning a career in the military, there are programs that can help fund your college career.

Funding for Veterans and Veterans’ Dependents

To repay service in the military, the federal government offers educational support for those who have served and those whose parents have served. These funds require no additional military service. Programs include

  • Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
    Contribute to your college costs out of your military pay, and the government will match those contributions on a $2 for $1 basis. Your contributions come directly from your military pay. Funds can be used for degree, certificate, correspondence, apprenticeship/on-the-job training programs and vocational flight training programs.
  • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
    Assistance is also available to daughters, sons or spouses of permanently and totally disabled veterans, veterans who died from service-related disabilities and service members who were missing in action, captured or detained in the line of duty by a foreign power.

To learn more about these programs, visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Web site.

Tuition in Exchange for Service

All branches of the military offer education funding programs to encourage students to enlist. If you are interested in a career in the military and want to combine that experience with your formal education, you should take advantage of one of these programs. You have two options: programs that allow you to earn college tuition while you serve, or programs that fund your education on the condition that you commit to serve after graduation.

Earn While You Serve

  • Montgomery GI Bill
    Earn money for college while serving your tour of duty. Active and Reserve duty programs are available. Apply for the Montgomery GI Bill when you enroll in any approved two- or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school. You’ll find the most current information about the GI Bill, including service requirements and payment rates, at http://www.gibill.va.gov.
  • College Funds
    Increase tuition support up to $50,000 when you combine the Montgomery GI Bill with funds from the Army, Navy, Marine or Coast Guard College Fund programs. Talk to your local recruiter to learn about qualification requirements.

Learn While You Serve
  • ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps)
    In ROTC, you receive college funding in exchange for a service commitment. Full ROTC scholarships pay for almost all tuition, fees, and books for four years of college. You must take one military science course along with your other college courses, and upon graduation, enter the service as a commissioned officer. ROTC scholarships also come in one, two, and three-year lengths. For more information, contact: Army ROTC
    http://www.goarmy.com/rotc
    1-800-USA-ROTC Navy ROTC
    http://www.nrotc.navy.mil
    1-800-NAV-ROTC Air Force ROTC
    http://www.afrotc.com
    1-866-423-7682
  • Service Academies
    Each branch of the service operates its own Service Academy offering four-year degrees. All students receive a full scholarship with a small monthly stipend. Upon graduation, you’ll start a career as a commissioned officer in the military. Admission is extremely competitive, so you need to excel in high school and apply early. For more information or applications, contact: The U.S. Military Academy (West Point, NY)
    http://www.usma.edu/
    1-800-822-8762 The U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
    http://www.usna.edu/
    (410)293-4361 The U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO)
    http://www.usafa.edu/
    1-800-443-9266 The U.S. Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)
    http://www.cga.edu
    1-800-883-8724

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