Are you thinking about going to college, but don’t have the money? Of course there are scholarships and financial aid, but what about scoring the cash for college more patriotically?
By joining the Army National Guard, you can attend college full-time, often tuition-free, serve your country and community and train for a military occupational specialty (MOS).
Joining the Army National Guard is about “duty, honor and the privilege of serving your country and community,” says Sgt. Maj. Brian Forney. Of course, everyone joins for different reasons, but members of the Guard are brought together with the common goals of patriotism, duty, and often, education.
Enlisting in the Guard requires you to serve a minimum of one weekend a month and two weeks a year, usually during the summer. This means you can attend college full or part time, and even have time to work another part-time job on top of receiving your monthly Guard paychecks.
How to join
If you’re serious about joining the Army National Guard, you can start by contacting a local recruiter by calling 1-800-GO-GUARD, visiting nationalguard.com or asking your high school guidance counselor for more information.
Before enlisting, you must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to determine your qualifications and MOS. “The job you get is determined by your test scores,” Forney says. “Jobs include everything from aviation to mechanical to administrative duties.” No matter which MOS you qualify for, the skills you’ll develop will be important for a career outside of the military. It’s like getting paid to train for a career and receiving an education at the same time!
You must also pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. If you don’t have your diploma, the National Guard will pay and train you to get your GED with the GED Plus Program, provided you enlist and meet certain qualifications.
After you’ve passed your tests and met all qualifications, basic training begins. It’s a nine-week, physically intensive program that takes you from civilian to soldier. And you won’t have to miss any school, as it is often available during the summer.
The most significant benefit of joining the National Guard is eligibility for education benefits. These benefits include the Montgomery GI Bill, which will help with tuition, and the Montgomery GI Bill Kicker, which covers additional college expenses, such as books and housing.
Not only can the Guard help you attend college, but you’ll have access to free academic testing, health insurance, a 401(k)-type savings plan, and a military retirement in recognition of your part-time service. And did you know that many colleges and universities award academic credit for Guard service and training?
Whether you’re joining the Army National Guard to fund your college education, serve your country and community or both, it’s “one of the greatest opportunities you can imagine,” Forney says.
The National Guard is a great place to start planning for your future. No matter what your goals are, there is likely to be a Guard opportunity perfect for you.
For more information on joining the Army National Guard, call 1-800-GO-GUARD and ask to speak to your local recruiter today.