DECEMBER 23, 2022 – Future college students who want an effective way to cover some or all of their educational expenses should think military. That’s because there are several ways to get the armed services to foot at least a portion of a college, grad school, or Ph.D. degree. The good news is that there are multiple approaches for getting cash, stipends, scholarships, and grants from one of the service branches.
Millions have already done it, and the majority of government sponsored programs are ongoing. There are even a few new ones for special situations. In addition to attending an academy like West Point, young people who are willing to make a time commitment to serve in one of the branches can get a substantial portion of the schooling paid for. Besides the academies, how do high school grads and adults gain access to funding?
Some of the better-known avenues are ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps, enlisting in one of the service branches, joining the Army or other reserve units as an adult, and applying for a Defense Department (DOD) scholarship through the SMART program. While not every strategy listed below is connected to the DOD or any particular branch, it’s important for prospective students to consider all their options.
Use a Private Parent Loan
What if you’re currently serving as an officer or civilian working in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine and want to pay for your child’s education? While the child won’t get direct financial assistance from the armed services, you do have an equally good option. Many parents choose to take out Earnest private parent student loans in their own names to cover school costs for their children.
Sending your kids to college while you’re serving in active or reserve duty is much easier for you and them when you take advantage of low-rate PPL (Private Parent Loans) resources. That way, when the graduate enters the workforce, they won’t have an education debt to deal with. Parents can work out any kind of arrangement with their children, but the formal loan is in the name of the parents, not the student.
For generations, the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) has been helping young people get oriented in life, college, and service careers. The program requires some time commitment during school and summer but offers youngsters the chance to get stipends while attending college and helps them advance through the ranks of ROTC at the same time. While the reserve officer corps does not pay for tuition in most cases, it does give students a head start on getting into a full-time career immediately after graduation. From that point, they can earn graduate credit at the military’s expense while serving their country.
Enlist and Use Multiple Subsidies
While on active duty and immediately afterward, millions take advantage of generous educational subsidies that cover tuition, books, fees, and more. Enlistees who are yet to be discharged can take college-level and some graduate coursework at no cost. After separating from the service, there are various programs that pay for as much as 70% of school-related expenses, depending on what schools you attend and how long it takes you to earn a degree.
Join the Reserves
Large numbers of working adults join reserve units in their hometowns via the Army and other branches. Not only can members get cash for graduate degrees and collegiate-level courses, but they also get paid a salary for doing their reserve duties. Adults with varying amounts of education have used reserve status to finance their education in dozens of different ways. Some community colleges and universities offer special tuition rates on in-person and online credits for members of the reserves. Additionally, there are programs in which educational institutions work directly with the Department of Defense to subsidize reserve-duty members’ educational expenses, both at the college and graduate school levels.
Apply for Defense Department Scholarships
There are multiple opportunities for scholarships and grants through the US DOD (Department of Defense). One of the most popular ones is called the SMART program. It pays full tuition, fees, and a living stipend for undergrads, grad students, and Ph.D. candidates who pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees. Upon completion of studies, graduates work in an assigned DOD job for the same number of years they were in school.
What does it take to earn a SMART grant or scholarship? It’s necessary to have a GPA of at least 3.75 in most cases, but there are exceptions. Other than that, applicants must major in one of the STEM fields in order to be admitted to the pool of potential recipients and be willing to work at summer internships during college or grad-school years. The SMART program is one of the most generous and successful of all military-related education programs.