U.S. Military Education Benefits

    The U.S. Military is a tremendous resource for college financial aid. Numerous scholarships and college grants are open to members of the military. Most are given out regardless of financial need, but you will be required to serve in the armed forces. The academic requirements vary from relatively easy to highly competitive. If you are considering a military career or if one of your parents has served, this can be a great way to pay for your education.

    The military academies are among the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the nation. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard all have schools with very high standards. Your GPA, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities will be key in gaining admission. Also, a nomination by a congressional representative or senator is usually necessary. If you gain admittance, then your tuition, room and board, medical care, and other expenses will be free. After you graduate, you will be required to serve in the military for up to five years.

    A ROTC scholarship (Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship) pays for tuition and includes a monthly allowance for other expenses. The Army ROTC scholarship, for example, can be used at more than 1,000 colleges that participate in the ROTC program. The Navy ROTC scholarship works similarly. Like the academies, these scholarships are awarded based on merit and require a commitment to the military after graduation. The length of your service obligation depends on which branch of the armed forces you choose.

    If you are already in the military, you are eligible for a number of other programs. Officers, for example, can have graduate school costs covered by the service. Off-Duty programs cover 75% of tuition at accredited universities. The Distance Learning Program makes it possible for military personnel to earn college credit even though they are stationed too far away to attend traditional classes.

    The Montgomery GI Bill and the Army College Fund provide a variety of benefits to members of the Reserves, National Guard, and students who have recently left the military. Depending on the length of your service and your position in the armed forces, the government will pay up to tens of thousands of dollars of college costs.

    Military dependents and military spouses are also eligible for a number of education benefits. Here are a few examples of scholarships for military children and military spouse scholarships:

    The Army Emergency Relief program provides military dependents scholarships. The unmarried children of soldiers (active duty, retired, or deceased) are eligible.

    The Air Force Aid Society distributes thousands of college grants to children of active duty, retired, or deceased members. Also, military spouses can apply for these grants. This is a need-based program.

    The Dependent’s Scholarship Program provides similar benefits for Marine, Navy, and Coast Guard families.

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