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Programs to help servicemembers earn a college degree


Thursday, April 19, 2012
Your desire to serve your country after completing high school does not mean you have to put off college until after you finish your military service. The U.S. Military’s education programs make it is easier than ever for military servicemembers to take college courses, no matter where they are stationed.

Once you realize that you can take courses either at the military post where you are stationed or online, you may still have concerns about money and time, two possible barriers standing between you and a college degree. However, you shouldn't worry, as there are several solutions to these problems.

Barrier #1: Money

As a member of the Armed Forces you are entitled to the same financial assistance and scholarships as any non-military student to lower the costs of attending college. In fact, your status as a servicemember means you have access to opportunities others do not.

Tuition assistance

No matter which branch of the Armed Forces you belong to, you may be able to receive help from the Tuition Assistance Program. According to Military.com, each service has the ability to pay up to 100 percent of its members' college tuition expenses. If you are eligible to receive this money, you do not have to repay it at a later date, as it is viewed as earned funding.

Scholarships

You may be eligible to receive a scholarship that would make your degree more affordable. For instance, each spring, active servicemembers can apply for the Pat Tillman Foundation's Tillman Military Scholars program, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Awards can be applied to tuition and other school fees, as well as costs related to housing and childcare.

Barrier #2: Time

Military service is a full-time job. Therefore, your college timeline will not be the same as that of a  typical student. However, there are ways for you to speed up the college process.

Take exams for credit

College courses take both time and money. If you are knowledgeable about a certain subject, you should see if you can take a test that will provide you with college credit. Such credit-by-exams exist in the form of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) and Excelsior College Exam (ECE).

Military.com reports that 2,900 colleges accept credits from these tests, so you may want to consider looking into them if it will reduce the amount of time it takes you to earn your degree, and make paying for college a little easier.ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800757121-ADNFCR

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