The cost of higher education has been a major concern for many families in the United States. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 academic year was $10,560 for in-state students at public four-year colleges and $37,650 for private four-year colleges. These figures have been increasing steadily over the years, making it more difficult for families to afford a college education.
Fortunately, there are several ways that military personnel and their families can obtain higher education without having to bear the burden of these high costs. In this BrokeScholar article, we’re going to focus on how the US military can help with the cost of college. The military offers a variety of programs that can help service members, veterans, and their families pay for college.
Ways the Military Can Pay for College
The various branches of the US armed forces have several programs that can help prospective or current college students manage the cost to attend institutions of higher education. Here’s a look at the some of the more prominent military programs aimed at helping Americans pay for college:
Post-9/11 GI Bill
One such program is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides financial assistance to individuals who have served on active duty for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001. The program covers up to 100% of tuition and fees, provides a monthly housing allowance, and offers a stipend for books and supplies. The benefits can be used for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as vocational and technical training.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a significant improvement over the previous Montgomery GI Bill, which only provided a fixed monthly payment to veterans. The new bill covers a greater portion of tuition and fees, offers more flexible payment options, and provides more extensive benefits.
Tuition Assistance Program
Another program available to military personnel is the Tuition Assistance Program, which provides funding for active-duty service members to pursue higher education. The program covers up to 100% of tuition and fees, up to $250 per semester hour or $166 per quarter hour and has an annual cap of $4,500. The program can be used for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as vocational and technical training.
The Tuition Assistance Program is a valuable resource for active-duty service members who want to continue their education while serving in the military. It allows them to pursue their educational goals without having to worry about the financial burden of tuition and fees.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)
In addition to these programs, there are also scholarships available to military personnel and their families. The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program provides up to $4,000 in financial assistance to military spouses who want to pursue a degree, license, or certification in a portable career field. The program is designed to help military spouses overcome the challenges of frequent moves and deployments and to improve their earning potential.
Military Children's Scholarship Program
The Military Children's Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to children of military personnel who have been killed, wounded, or are missing in action. The program covers up to $2,500 per academic year and can be used for undergraduate degree programs at accredited colleges and universities.
Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)
The Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is another program that provides financial assistance to individuals who want to pursue a career in healthcare. The program covers tuition and fees, provides a monthly stipend, and offers other benefits such as reimbursement for books and supplies. In exchange for the financial assistance, participants agree to serve in the military as a healthcare professional after completing their education.
These programs are just a few examples of the many ways that military personnel and their families can obtain higher education without having to bear the burden of high costs. These programs are designed to help individuals pursue their educational goals while serving their country and improving their career prospects.
More Benefits Provided by the Military for College
On top of the financial benefits, obtaining higher education can also have other advantages for military personnel and their families. Studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of education tend to have higher earnings and better job prospects. This can be especially important for military personnel who may face challenges transitioning to civilian life after their service is complete.
Obtaining a college degree or other higher education can also provide individuals with valuable skills and knowledge that can be applied to a wide range of careers. For example, a degree in business or management can be beneficial for those interested in pursuing a career in logistics or supply chain management, while a degree in nursing can lead to a career in healthcare.
What’s more, pursuing higher education can be a way for military personnel and their families to build a sense of community and belonging. Many colleges and universities have programs specifically designed for military personnel and their families, including dedicated support services and resources.
Despite the many benefits of obtaining higher education through military programs, there are also some limitations and challenges to consider. For example, some programs have strict eligibility requirements, such as a minimum length of service or certain educational qualifications. Additionally, there may be limitations on the types of programs or schools that are covered by certain programs.
Another challenge can be balancing the demands of military service with the demands of pursuing higher education. Military personnel may have to balance their coursework with their duties and responsibilities, which can be challenging and time-consuming.
Moreover, not all military personnel may be interested in pursuing higher education, and that is perfectly fine. There are many different paths to success, and not all of them require a college degree.
The Bottom Line on the Military Paying for College
In the end, the military does provide options for individuals to obtain higher education without having to bear the burden of high costs. Programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Tuition Assistance Program, and various scholarships are available to help military personnel and their families pursue their educational goals. Obtaining higher education can provide valuable skills, knowledge, and opportunities for career advancement. However, it is important to consider the limitations and challenges of these programs, as well as the fact that higher education is not the only path to success.