What You Should Know About Military-Friendly Colleges
While some military members wait to enroll until they’re on reserve duty or have completed their service, it’s possible to earn a degree at nearly any point in your military career. Some bases, such as Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington provide access to in-person classes through partnerships with major universities. Other colleges offer online degree programs that are specifically geared toward service members.
The government might pay for your education, but not all programs are the same. Active duty members can request Military Tuition Assistance, which will cover up to $4,500 per year. The Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill are intended to pay for college after your military service, but may require you to take a reduction in pay while in the military. Other assistance programs may be available for your spouse and other family members.
Colleges are required to readmit you if your education was interrupted by military service and you return within five years. This means that if you’re called into duty while enrolled in college, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. These readmission requirements only apply to the college where you were previously enrolled and don’t guarantee you admission elsewhere.
Choosing a college is difficult for everyone, but it can be especially stressful when trying to navigate a military career. To make it easier, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a military-friendly college:
- Find out if you can get college credit for your service. Some military-friendly colleges allow you to apply part of your military experience toward your degree. For example, the U.S. Marine Corps has a Voluntary Education Program that allows members to earn up to 20 college credits. This could include physical fitness credits earned during your recruit training or certain distance learning classes.
- Visit the Education Office on your base. Every base has its own Education Office, which can help you explore your options and determine what kind of program is right for you. If you plan to study while on active duty, ask about colleges that offer a flexible schedule and distance learning options that won’t conflict with your responsibilities.
- If you are a veteran, consider attending a Yellow Ribbon school. Depending on when you left the military, the GI Bill may not cover all of your expenses. Fortunately, some military-friendly colleges may cover the difference. The Yellow Ribbon Program is intended to offset the cost of private school or graduate school tuition. Keep in mind that all public universities offer in-state tuition rates to veterans for three years after their service.
- Access tutorial assistance if you need it. Veterans may be able to have the cost of a tutor covered by the tutorial assistance program. You can receive up to $100 per month, and you will need a letter from your instructor confirming that you’re having difficulty with classes. This can be helpful if you’re returning to college after your military service and need some extra support.