Many think that, after high school, they have to choose between going to college or joining the military, and that there is no overlap between the two. Yet, here are just a few ways joining the military can benefit both your college experience and your life afterwards.
Helps Pay for Your Schooling
A very well-known benefit for military service is getting help with paying for college. There are a few different ways this is done, and understanding your options can inform you on which colleges you can attend and how much the military will cover.
There are four major ways the military helps with college. Each of these approaches has its own benefits and conditions, so it’s important to plan ahead with the approach you want before joining the military.
- Montgomery G.I. Bill: With this bill, and depending how long a person is enlisted, an individual can get over $50,000 to help pay for college. A major condition to qualify for this bill, though, is you must give $100 a month for the first year of service.
- Post 9-11 G.I. Bill: This is a newer education bill available to people who have served actively in the military after September 11, 2009. With this bill, instead of getting just a flat amount of money, you get an amount of money matching the most expensive in-state tuition and some extra money for things like housing and books.
- College Fund Programs: These programs are commonly known as a “kicker,” where you are awarded extra funds for college. These programs are typically given to specialist occupations in the military and are not available to every member of the military.
- Loan Repayment Programs: This program is where the military will pay back a portion of a person’s student loan after they finish college. This acts as an incentive for college graduates to join the military after graduating.
Depending on where you go to school, it is possible that the military won’t cover all of your expenses, but every bit helps. There are other ways to pay for college that can help fill the gaps left by the military, like grants, scholarships and getting a job.
Discipline and Skills to Do Well
College is hard, and many students struggle to focus on school. One major benefit from serving in the military is being able to focus and dedicate to a task for a long time.
That means being able to balance school work with other time factors, like a personal life and a job, without letting your grades suffer. If you struggled doing this in high school, college can be much harder to balance. The military can teach skills like prioritizing tasks and time management.
This level of discipline can also help a lot if you decide to pursue going to college online. One of the many myths of online learning is that it is easier and has less deadlines, but it actually requires much more dedication and discipline. This is because there is often not a time set aside in the day for you to attend classes, forcing students to set their own schedule and plan ahead.
It’s likely that after you are done serving in the military, you might be further along in your life than the typical college student. That includes considering a serious relationship, having a child, and looking to purchase a home.
The military can help if owning a home is one of your goals, either during or after college. For veterans, there are VA loans available that offer unique benefits in buying a home. This includes features like: no down payment, lower closing costs, no mortgage insurance, and lower credit requirements. That final one can become very useful as joining the military can have a major impact on your credit.
If you aren’t looking to buy a home, there are some apartments that give preferential treatment to veterans. That can be extremely helpful in smaller college towns with competitive apartment markets.
Succeeding at School
The military gives and teaches people useful skills and habits that can directly translate to doing well at school. The financial help is also very powerful, which can allow students to graduate from college with little or no student debt. If this sounds like something you want, serving in the military could be a viable option.
This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.