Military Education Benefits: Join Military to Pay for School (2023)

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Financial Aid

Learn the four ways you can use military education benefits to help you pay for school.

Shawna Newman

November 09, 2022

Military Education Benefits: Join Military to Pay for School (1)

Join the military & drastically cut the cost of college!

The cost of college continues to rise and graduating college with too much student debt is a real concern for many students. According to Forbes, 56% of students need to borrow in order to pay for tuition and fees. Among those who do, the average balance is a hefty $28,950.Yet, the college degree payoff still prevails. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more education means lower unemployment rates and the highest earnings. Median weekly earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree were nearly twice as much as those with a high school education. While many students realize the importance and opportunity of attending college, they lack the resources. Fortunately, there are ways to pay for college without taking on student loan debt, like joining the military.

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The Benefits of Enlisting to Help Pay for College

If you enlist in the military, you’ll have similar career or job choices as you would in the civilian world and countless leadership opportunities. You can be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, data scientist, cyber security specialist, drone pilot and so much more. Whether you’re in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard or Space Force, you’ll have a specific job and develop a trade in the military branch you choose to serve. references the number of careers offered in each branch and you’ll find that there are more than 750 careers to choose from. As a service member, you'll learn what it means to be dedicated and respectable, and how to work as a team through basic training. You may even have the chance to see places you wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so otherwise. In a way, these diverse interactions and relocation possibilities could be compared to the college experience.

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The military service is more challenging than college, but the leadership, discipline, and real-world skills you will acquire are priceless. Joining the military is also a great way to ensure a steady income and access to housing and food while you go to school. For students seeking higher education and looking for big ways to get a degree without all the debt, enlisting in the military to pay for school is a great way to offset college costs. highlights, “Not only does the military pay up to 100 percent of college tuition while you serve on active duty,” but it “also offers the GI Bill (about $36,000) to use for college up to 10 years after leaving the service.” The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing, up to 36 months, for individuals with at least 90 days of active duty after September 11, 2001, or those with a service-connected disability after 30 days.

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Tuition assistance is also provided by each military branch and other military scholarships offered at colleges. You can get your degree for much less than you would as a civilian by enlisting in the military. These scholarships and grants are in addition to the Federal student aid you may receive after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are several paths to consider as you’re exploring joining the military to pay for college:1.) Join the armed forces after high school and work on your college degree while you’re on active duty. Most military bases have access to colleges and classes right on base. This close-to-home location makes it much easier to stay focused. Of course, you also have the option to enroll in online classes at most universities nationwide! Use your time in the service to nail down what jobs you dislike and what you prefer doing as a career. After your four-year military commitment is over, you could very well enter the civilian world with a college degree. Bonus: Your skill set will supersede other recent college graduates, giving you a serious advantage in the job market! 2.) Start college as a civilian (someone who is not enlisted in the military), graduate with your associate or bachelor’s degree and become a military officer. Many colleges have Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs designed to help students prepare for the military, while in college. These programs allow you to connect to other students that want to join the military too. You’ll be a United States Armed Forces reserve cadet, training to become a commissioned officer after college graduation. According to reports each armed force has their own ROTC program. You choose the service branch and the career path you prefer. Qualifying students can receive ROTC scholarships that cover the cost of their education! 3.) Serve in a military reserve branch or the National Guard while you’re in college. If you’re not ready to serve in the military full time, you can choose to join the reserves or the National Guard on an as-needed basis. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “The purpose of the Reserve is to provide and maintain trained units and qualified persons to be available for active duty in the armed forces when needed.” The National Guard includes the Army National Guard and the Air Force, Air National Guard. These are Federal programs organized and managed by the state. As a guard member, you’d help American communities in times of critical need, such as national disasters or state emergencies. Similar to the active duty military, you would be trained in a specific job role. The skills you learn will enhance your resume and help fund your college education. Military reservists and Guard members also have education assistance programs that help pay tuition and other educational expenses. 4.) Apply as a student (aka cadet) in a military academy. The cost to attend a military academy is $0. According to a CNBC, in addition to a zero cost of attendance, all five military colleges provide cadets with a yearly salary or stipend. You will not have to pay for room and board, food or your textbooks. There are, however, terms and conditions you'll need to consider. Admissions into any of these schools is a prestigious endeavor as most require a letter of congressional nomination as well as specific admissions requirements, fitness tests and more. The five military academies in America rank as some of the top universities in the nation and include: • U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York • U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland • U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado • U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut • United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York You will take college courses and graduate with an accredited college degree. Unlike the typical college experience, there are physical fitness standards you must meet, and you’ll be required to serve in the military after graduation. All five academies require a minimum five years of service commitment. The Merchant Marine Academy requires graduates to maintain an officer's license for six years and a service obligation.

A Patriotic Way to Pay for School

Considering military enlistment to help you pay for school is smart. The financial aid awards you'll qualify for will help you avoid taking out private student loans. Additionally, job prospects after your military service are great. HR departments are following an initiative to find and hire employees with military experience, including these 28 companies.

Military Recruitment Info and Scholarships for Veterans and Military Families

Whatever path you choose, if you enlist in the military, you’ll graduate with zero to little student debt and have numerous leadership experiences to showcase. Looking for more military-related information? Contact a recruiter to learn more about the educational benefits offered by the military or visit If you’re a military veteran, check out these Veterans Scholarships that will help you pay for school. Thank you for your service to our nation! Are you a spouse or child to a current or veteran military member? Look at this list of .


Military Education Benefits: Join Military to Pay for School? ›

Gi Bill. The GI Bill helps current and former Soldiers pay for college, trade school, technical school, licensing, certification programs, on-the-job training, online schooling, and more. Many Soldiers using the GI Bill receive full tuition for their service.

Does the military pay you to go to school? ›

Tuition Assistance pays for up to 100 percent of the cost of tuition or expenses, up to a maximum of $250 per credit and a personal maximum of $4,500 per fiscal year per student. This program is the same for full-time members in all Military Services.

Will the military pay for college if you join after? ›

Members of the U.S. military are eligible for a variety of government programs to pay for college—during school, while they are serving, and after they complete their service.

What are the educational benefits for enlisting in the military? ›

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers the GI Bill, a benefit that helps veterans pay for college or job training. The GI Bill can cover tuition, housing, fees, and books. Learn about the GI Bill, VA education programs, and your eligibility.

How many years do you need to be in the military to get free college? ›

You can get benefits through MGIB-AD if you served at least 2 years on active duty and you meet all of these requirements. All of these must be true: You were honorably discharged, and. You have a high school diploma, GED, or 12 hours of college credit, and.

Is it better to go to college before joining the military? ›

Joining the military after college is a quick way to advance in any branch of the armed forces . A college degree qualifies those who enlist to enter officer training immediately, bypassing the time required for general recruits.

When did the military start paying for college? ›

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, DOD Tuition Assistance began in the 1950s as a way to provide education benefits to active duty personnel. In the 1990s, DOD Tuition Assistance was excluded from requirements that schools receive funding outside of government funds.

Do you get free college after 4 years in the military? › highlights, “Not only does the military pay up to 100 percent of college tuition while you serve on active duty,” but it “also offers the GI Bill (about $36,000) to use for college up to 10 years after leaving the service.” The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing, up to ...

What happens if you go to college then join the military? ›

The benefits of joining the military after college

A guaranteed job after college. A leadership role at a young age. Higher pay than joining as an enlisted military member. Greater opportunities for promotion and training.

How long do you have to be in the military to get benefits for life? ›

Benefit Fact Sheet. In most cases, Soldiers who have completed 20 years of active service are eligible to receive Retired Pay at the end of their career. The Date of Initial Entry into Military Service (DIEMS) determines which of the three retirement systems a Soldier falls under.

What benefits do my parents get if I join the military? ›

If dependency is awarded, your parent will be eligible for a Uniformed Services ID card and may obtain primary medical care at a military treatment facility on a space-available basis under the TRICARE Plus program. You will be eligible for travel allowance for PCS moves and BAH at the with-dependents rate.

How much will military pay for college? ›

What it pays100% coverage for full tuition and fees based on merit and grades, and the option to cover room and board instead, for qualifying cases. $420 per month, per year, for personal expenses. $1,200 per year for books.
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May 23, 2023

Which military branch pays the best? ›

On average, however, the Air Force is the military branch that has the highest pay because, in the Air Force, there are more opportunities to be promoted to the next rank, which leads to many recruits becoming officers.

Can you do full time college in the military? ›

You'll be glad to know the answer is yes – you absolutely can. Not only can you go to college while serving in the military, all branches have tuition assistance programs that cover all or part of the cost, whether it's a community college or technical school program, four-year degree or graduate program.

Is military school free in USA? ›

Remember, there is one reason and one reason only that military academies are free: the US military wants to train the most capable military officers in the world. There's no need for financial aid at a military academy!

What branch of military is easiest to join? ›

The Air Force is reported to be the “easiest” branch when it comes to physical challenges and difficulties. Next to the Coast Guard, Air Force members are among the least likely to see combat.

How hard is it to go to college while in the military? ›

In many cases, attending in-person classes at a brick-and-mortar school is physically impossible for military service members on active duty. Even if you can find a way to get to campus, you may not be able to attend every class and finish every assignment on time.

Does the military pay for your house? ›

Generally, housing is provided for all active duty service members, whether they're living on or off base. There may be exceptions to this rule, which you can discuss with a recruiter.

Does the military pay for housing while in college? ›

The Post-9/11 GI Bill also pays a Monthly Housing Allowance based on the ZIP code of the location of the school you are attending - not your home ZIP code. This stipend currently averages $1,833.00, but can exceed $2,700 depending on where you go to school.

How much money do you get after 4 years in the military? ›

Rank<2 Years Experience4 Years Experience
Private (E2)$25,790.40$25,790.40
Private First Class (E3)$27,118.80$30,571.20
Specialist or Corporal (E4)$30,042.00$34,977.60
Sergeant (E5)$32,763.60$38,390.40
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Will the military pay off my student loans? ›

How Much of My Student Loan Will the Military Repay? Currently, the Army and Navy will repay up to $65,000 of your student loans, the Coast Guard will repay up to $30,000 with yearly limits and the National Guard will repay up to $50,000.

How long is military college? ›

In general, students attend these colleges for four years. They may receive financial aid through the standard channels, including federal financial aid, though some schools offer additional support for junior- and senior-level students. Admission requirements and programs for each of the senior military colleges vary.

How much is e4 pay? ›

Basic pay chart and raises
Years of Service
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What happens if you fail college in the military? ›

Yes, your training priority will be downgraded by one priority. Your command must fund your travel to retake the course you academically failed. For Acquisition workforce members, you will not be eligible to participate in any training or incentive programs offered by the USAASC.

Which degree is best for Army? ›

Find out which degree is right for you
  1. Strategic Intelligence. ...
  2. Criminal Justice. ...
  3. Management Information Systems (MIS) ...
  4. Political Science. ...
  5. Healthcare - Nursing, Biology, Radiology. ...
  6. Philosophy. ...
  7. Psychology. ...
  8. Theology (military chaplains)

Do children of military parents get free college? ›

The College Tuition Fee Waiver for the Dependents of Veterans -- sometimes called the CalVet Fee Waiver -- is a state benefit that provides a tuition-free education at the CSU and the other state public post-secondary colleges and universities.

Can my mom live with me on base? ›

Can my family live on base with me? Soldiers' spouses and dependents can live on-base with them in family housing. Parents, extended family, and friends cannot live on base but are welcome to visit.

Does military pay increase when you have a child? ›

Yes, but not in the way you're hoping. That BAH bump comes only once, when the service member gets married or, if they don't marry, when they have more than 50% custody of their first child. After that, the rate does not change per child or per dependent -- it's a one-time thing.

Will the military pay for Harvard? ›

Veterans Readiness and Employment (CH31)

VR&E is not an education benefit, but it can be used by eligible service members and veterans to pay for tuition and required fees. Individuals using VR&E to pay for their education at Harvard University will have their benefit managed as third-party billing.

Does military pay out of state tuition? ›

GI Bill recipients will not be charged out-of-state tuition, and are eligible for in-state tuition in all 50 states (or the school will lose GI Bill funding), according to the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, with a few stipulations.

What is a GI Bill benefits? ›

GI Bill benefits help you pay for college, graduate school, and training programs. Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped qualifying Veterans and their family members get money to cover all or some of the costs for school or training. Learn more about GI Bill benefits on this page—and how to apply for them.

How much is the GI Bill worth? ›

The Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay your full resident tuition at a public school. If you are attending a private or foreign school it will pay up to $26,381.37 per academic year. An academic year lasts from Aug. 1 - Jul.

How many college classes can you take in the military? ›

The number of classes you can take while on active duty will depend on your personal life and military obligations, but many students can take up to three classes per semester. You may have to pause classes while on Army Temporary Duty, deployments, or significant inspections.

How much does military school cost in USA? ›

There is no tuition to attend. Students (Cadets) accepted into West Point are members of the U.S Army, and each Cadet receives an annual salary, room, board, medical and dental care.

When should I send my child to military school? ›

This is because most military schools will have their own acceptance requirements. Broadly speaking, the average age for acceptance is between the ages of 12 and 15. This typically puts students between 6th and 8th grade. That said, some military schools can and do accept students as young as seven years of age.

How to apply for military school in USA? ›

  1. Confirm Eligibility. Applicants must meet the following basic eligibility requirements: ...
  2. Gather Personal Information. ...
  3. Apply Online. ...
  4. Connect with our Field Force. ...
  5. Apply for a Nomination. ...
  6. Get a Medical Examination. ...
  7. Take the Candidate Fitness Assessment. ...
  8. Take College Entrance Exams.

Can I go to school full time in the military? ›

Can You Go to College While in the Military, on Active Duty? Yes! Many individuals worry that they have to choose between the military and college, when deciding their future path. The truth is, you can pursue both—and there are even benefits to doing so.

What does the military pay for? ›

The military provides notable compensation benefits, ranging from paid vacation to retired-pay plans that beat those many private-sector employers offer. It also offers free or reduced-cost housing, a host of special and incentive pays, free financial and tax consultations and more.

How much does military pay for college? ›

The military pays up to 100% of your tuition if you qualify. You can use Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits alongside military tuition assistance to pay for school.

How do I get my Army to pay for college? ›

As a Soldier in the Army Reserve, you can take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill as a way to pay for your college education. Depending on how long you enlist, you can get over $13,000 to help pay for college. WHAT'S THE PAY LIKE? Up to $356 per month for 36 months for full-time students.

Does the military pay you after you leave? ›

In most cases, Soldiers who have completed 20 years of active service are eligible to receive Retired Pay at the end of their career. The Date of Initial Entry into Military Service (DIEMS) determines which of the three retirement systems a Soldier falls under.

How much does military pay a month? ›

The average U.S. Army salary ranges from approximately $30,646 per year for Corporal to $92,168 per year for Commander. The average U.S. Army monthly salary ranges from approximately $1,760 per month for Radio and Communications Security Repairer to $5,943 per month for First Sergeant.

Do you get a pension after 4 years in the military? ›

You must serve for at least 20 years to qualify for Army pension benefits. After 20 years, active-duty Soldiers can start pension pay at any age they chose.

What is the lowest paid military branch? ›

E-1: $20,340. E-1 is the lowest enlisted rank in the US military: Airman Basic (Air Force), Private (Army/Marine Corps), Seaman Recruit (Navy). Service members usually hold this rank through basic training, and automatically promote to the next rank after six months of service.

Which branch of military is hardest to get into? ›

The hardest military branch to get into in terms of education requirements is the Air Force. The military branch with the toughest basic training is the Marine Corps.

Who is the highest paid military member? ›

The highest-paid military job is a general or admiral.

Several of these special pay factors are not taxable, which can add a substantial amount to the paycheck. Officers are often skilled professionals in a specific area, or well seasoned in their position over time and trained to manage individuals.


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