March to college

How joining the military can help you pay for college.

Books? Bought. Tuition? Paid. Fees? Covered.

From fees to finance textbooks, how would you like the military to pick up your college tab? Serving in the military can entitle you to monthly stipends and tuition assistance for college.

But the money isn’t just forked over. You may have to take a qualifying test, serve several years of active duty and pick an accredited school. Here’s what you’d get for your service.


Tuition assistance

Each branch of the military offers tuition assistance to qualifying service members. Depending on the branch, tuition assistance can provide up to $4,500 per year for college. Service members can use tuition assistance while serving on active duty, but they must receive clearance from their superior officer.

Retired Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terry Howell is now the senior content manager for He says that tuition assistance is readily available as long as you avoid some common mistakes.

“Accreditation is the biggest issue,“ Howell says.

Servicemembers also need to make sure their academic program is approved by their superiors.

“I knew guys who would take the course and try to get the military to pay for their tuition. You can’t do it in that order. You have to get it pre-approved,” Howell says.

Active duty service members using tuition assistance shouldn’t expect to start classes right after boot camp. Howell says service members first need to learn their military job. The training and transition period could take up to two years.


Free college credit

Service members may be able to work toward an associate’s degree without even stepping into a classroom. Howell says students can earn credit for their military job experience.


Montgomery GI Bill

All service members can receive benefits from the Montgomery GI Bill.

To qualify for a monthly “kicker” stipend of up to $950 a month, servicemembers take placement tests and contribute $100 a month to the fund for 12 months and serve at least two years. After separation from active duty, students have 10 years to use the GI Bill.


Education benefits

Here’s how to find out more about the military’s education benefits.
• 1-888-GI BILL1: This hotline can tell a soldier if a college is accredited. Learn about education benefits and compare options between branches. Learn about Navy education benefits. Read about education options for reserve and active duty soldiers. This Web site has information about education benefits for active duty soldiers. Explains education benefits for both enlisted airmen and officers. Read about education options for reserve and active duty members.
• Get the details about the Army National Guard’s education benefits. Find the educational benefits of the Air National Guard at this Web site.


Sponsored by Army National Guard

For more information on joining the Army National Guard, call 1-800-GO-GUARD and ask to speak to your local recruiter today. Serve your country, learn a skill, and earn money for college with a career in the military. There are several options for students who are considering a military service career: the National Guard, several branches and jobs to choose from, even officer training through an ROTC program or a military college.

The best way to find out which military career path is right for you is to talk to a military recruiter in your area. Remember, military careers aren't limited to being a soldier. There are opportunities for doctors, engineers, pilots, computer specialists, communications professionals and more!


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