Strategies To Pay For College Today
This content is provided courtesy of USAA.
College costs are rising. The economy is down. But finding a way to pay for that degree is still worth it. Find out how you can foot the bill.
With high tuition and the tough job market, you may wonder if getting a college degree is still worth the cost. It is, according to recent research.
A U.S. Census Bureau study released in September 2011 shows your education level affects your paycheck: If you work full time and year-round, a bachelor’s degree can help you earn between $681,000 and $1.2 million more than a high school diploma.
To help streamline your college banking and find the cash to pay for an education in today’s economy, here are five methods and their pros and cons.
|How Much Should You Borrow?|
Experts recommend that student loan payments stay at or below 10% of the expected monthly gross income for new graduates in your field. For example, if an education major can expect to land a teaching job paying $30,000 a year, with a monthly gross income of $2,500, his or her maximum student loan payments should be around $250 a month.
So when you’re taking out student loans as an undergraduate, think about the terms of repayment after college and whether your likely monthly income will cover the cost, as well as your living expenses. And once you’ve graduated, budget so you make those loan payments by their due dates each month. A sure way to hurt your credit rating is to not pay bills on time.
Officer Track And Enlisted Track
Each branch of the militaryArmy, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guardare organized into Officer and Enlisted service members.
Strictly speaking, Officers outrank Enlisted but the two paths are designed to work side-by-side and each brings different skills and focus.
Enlisted military members do the hands-on work of the military. They often receive specialized training and become technical experts as they progress through their careers.
Senior Enlisted members are responsible for personnel management and mentorship of both Enlisted and Junior Officers.
A 4-year college degree is not required to enlist in the military, although there are numerous opportunities to get a degree once you are serving or after you complete your time obligation.
Military officers lead groups of enlisted and fellow officers, with size and level of responsibility increasing as they become more experienced.
Their training and job performance evaluation focus on leadership and increasingly complex decision-making to impact overall policy and mission direction.
To join as an officer, you must have a 4-year degree. Those in pursuit of a degree may be able to become part of an officer training program while they attend college, such as ROTC.
There are limited opportunities for senior Enlisted members to become Officers or to serve as Warrant Officers, Limited Duty Officers, or in another capacity.
National University Seeks Motivated Students
Advisors at NU look for military students who are motivated, focused, and want to do better in life. These students may not have been successful in the classroom before entering the military. But military service can change all that.
A lot of students go to different schools and dont do well because they dont know how to balance military commitments, Spittler says. But she explains when theyve been in the military for a while, theyve learned discipline and accountability, and have developed the motivation to move up in rank. So all of this makes a difference when they decide to return to the classroom. In the application process, their high school grade point average is not as important as their current level of motivation, according to Spittler.
While a student with a low high school GPA may be embarrassed when they first approach an advisor, Spittler says she and her colleagues are understanding and will ask: What is different now?
In an interview process, the advisor gathers information and asks questions that help the student determine their reason for seeking more education, and to help understand if they are ready.
She finds that, most often, prospective military students are usually ready and prepared for the challenge of college after serving in the military for a year or two. Additionally, the educational benefits theyve earned help ease the decision.
With all that lined up, Spittler adds, So why shouldnt they go to school?
Is A Military College Right For You
There are a number of factors to consider before you commit to attending a military college as opposed to going to a regular college. Most importantly, how motivated are you to get military training and serve in the military? If you’re not fully enthusiastic about serving, you should think twice before deciding to attend a school that requires you to spend years serving in the military after you graduate.
Also, can you handle the incredibly structured and disciplined environment of military colleges? Do you need more free time and a laid back environment, or are you excited by the thought of getting pushed physically and academically? Do you want to feel the unique camaraderie you’ll experience with fellow cadets?
Personally, I briefly considered attending West Point. I was recruited by the Army for gymnastics, and when the coach called me and sold the academy to me, I was intrigued. The financial and potential professional benefits of going to Army sounded great. However, I hadn’t ever considered joining the military previously and I was hesitant to commit to the five years after graduating. Also, I didn’t think I would thrive in such a strict environment I wanted more freedom to pursue my varied interests.
National Guard Vs Active Duty Military
There are many that may like to consider the thought of having the U.S. Military cover most, or all of their college tuition yet are hesitant to sign up for something that may put them on the front lines.
It is important to note that while the National Guard is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, it is starkly different from other types of active duty.
The National Guard is part of the U.S. Army Reserves. It is different from active duty military in that members are not committed full-time to their service.
In fact, most members of the National Guard hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time with a unit. They are able to carry on normal lives working, going to school, or helping raise a family while also serving their country.
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Online Degrees That Build Work Skills
Through a college education, active-duty students can enhance their existing job skills and even advance in rank as they apply what theyve learned to their positions. Spittler explains that a few of the more common National programs known to help military students advance in their careers include information technology management, cybersecurity, and leadership programs.
Some servicemembers choose programs that closely relate to what they are doing on active duty. For instance, many military medics or corpsmen pursue online or on-campus registered nursing programs. While you can serve as a Navy hospital corpsman without being a registered nurse, this educational experience can help you enter the nursing field after active duty.
Other students decide to pursue degrees that dont relate to their role in the military, opting for something that they might consider to be more marketable when they transition out of service, Spittler says. The variety of programs NU offers, more than 75 in all, gives them a lot of options to choose from and the one-month course format is very attractive to a servicemember who may need to pause for a month and then restart classes again.
Air Force Officer Positions
Here are possible officer positions within the Air Force:
- Weather Officer: A Weather Officer is responsible for the vital service of accurate weather forecasting for aircraft. Officers who earn an undergraduate degree in meteorology or a related field qualify for this position after completing the basic meteorology program.
- Combat Systems Officer: Combat Systems Officers act as mission commanders for electronic warfare, weapons systems and navigation. These officers utilize technical equipment to lead missions.
- Special Tactics Officer: This highly trained and elite group of officers provide a range of tactical operations including personnel recovery, fire support and battlefield trauma care.
- Airfield Operations Officer: These officers lead airfield operations, manage air traffic control and oversee airspace management. They provide leadership and technical assistance in their role as advisors to airfield commanders.
- Aircraft Maintenance Officer: An Aircraft Maintenance Officer is responsible for creating maintenance plans and directing essential maintenance operations. They also manage quality assurance and training in all aspects of aircraft repair and maintenance.
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Veterans Total And Permanent Disability Discharge
The Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge is available to release veterans of their loans. You need to have a service-related disability thats documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to qualify and be deemed permanently disabled. Most loans are eligible for forgiveness through this program.
How to Apply for Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge:
The Real Experience Is Not The Same As Movies And Videogames
Heres what you can expect from the military: you start off as a worthless bag of bones sent to basic training to be the punching bag of some of the more clever, mischievous, and dedicated troops on the planet. Some branches call them Drill Instructors, others call them Drill Sergeants.
I call them role models and the keepers of military tradition. Weve all seen the movies and the YouTube clips but I can tell you from personal experience its a whole lot different when youre the one living it.
Their mission is to break you, and they will. They will tear you down then build you into something new. Something that is fit to wear their uniform and be part of a bigger team, or theyll wash you out and send you home. You will get into the best shape of your life, you will push yourself to new heights, and you will be filled with pride and a feeling of accomplishment. You will also get to know exhaustion and pain on a physical, spiritual, and mental level.
I was. I spent fifteen months in western Iraq.
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A Final Note On An Army Career
The needs of the military always come first, so options for joining the Army after college can vary. The number of scholarships and commissions available depends on current and anticipated staffing levels. The economy, the national budget and the global political situation are important factors in determining how many officers the Army can train and retain. For information on current opportunities, schedule a visit to your local Army recruiting station.
Earn Your Degree Through Rotc
If you are interested in joining the Army as an Officer and you do not already have a college degree, then the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is for you.
ROTC is a scholarship program that allows you to complete all of the requirements of Army Officer training while attending college. In return for a service commitment after you graduate, the Army will pay for your college tuition, books, and other expenses.
ROTC programs are available at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the United States. You can join the ROTC after graduating high school or at any point during your first two years of college.
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Military Service And Your Ncaa Eligibility
Posted August 27, 2012. by Ken Lancaster
Its not uncommon for high school student-athletes to enlist in the U.S. military after graduation. There are many reasons they do this, whether it be an opportunity for a clean start, a need for direction and focus, or just the passion and dedication for their country. Whatever the case may be, it often requires the sacrifice of giving up the sport they have competed in for so long.
Because of the commitment enlisting in the military requires, plans for college often get delayed or affected somehow. This also means that a student-athlete who wants to compete in college cant compete until their service is over. This can cause problems in the . This rule stipulates that college student-athletes have five years to complete their four years of eligibility. In most college sports, athletes eligibility clocks start counting down only one year after their high school graduation. Obviously, those athletes who enlist in the military cant plan on being able to use their eligibility until they have finished their service.
The NCAA recognizes the sacrifice that soldiers make and have created exceptions to the Five-Year Rule for them. Here are the two most important rules for student-athletes who spend time in the military:
This rule basically stops an athletes five-year clock when they enlist in active duty in the military.
This rule allows athletes to play immediately if you transfer schools after leaving the military.
College Level Examination Program
Through independent study, distance learning, and credit-by-examination programs, you can earn college credit without stepping into a classroom.
Exams administered by the College Board allow you to receive credit for job experience or completing military training. This allows you to test out of many college prerequisites and earn college credit for your transcripts.
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Join The Air Force Out Of High School
When you join the United States Air Force with your high school diploma or GED, youre automatically enrolled in the Community College of the Air Force. So youll automatically begin working toward your associates degree in applied science in one of five career areas: aircraft and missile maintenance, electronics and telecommunications, allied health, logistics and resources or public and support services. With a unique combination of on-duty and voluntary off-duty courses, youll earn college credit just for reporting for duty, learning your job and getting started on your career.
GET YOUR DEGREE, LEARN TO LEAD
A Patriotic Way To Pay For School
Radio.comLooking for more military-related information?Contact a recruiterMilitary.comIf youre a military veteran, check out these Veteran Scholarships that will help you pay for school.Are you a spouse or child to a current or veteran military member?College Scholarships for Military Children & Spouses
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College In The Military
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What To Expect At The Recruiters Office
Anyone interested in joining the military will most likely start at the recruiters office. A recruiter is someone currently serving in the military whose job it is to educate the public and entice eligible candidates to serve.
There are separate Enlisted and Officer recruiters, so it is important to have an idea of which path you are interested in before you visit.
The recruiter will talk to you about what kind of future you want with the military.
Each branch has their own recruitment office and program, so they will only be able to tell you about paths within the branch of service they represent.
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How To Choose A College Or University While In The Military
Members of the military who attend online universities can take part in classes anywhere and anytime however, not all programs are equal. Finding an online degree program built to help service members succeed is essential for active-duty personnel, especially those serving overseas.
Even if your intention is to advance your career in the military, then pursuing a degree may still be beneficial. Furthermore, if becoming an officer interests you, then youll likely need to earn a bachelors degree.1
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- Up to $4,000 per year
- Up to 130 semester hours toward an undergraduate degree
- Up to 39 semester hours toward a graduate degree
- Up to 21 semester hours toward a certificate
As a first step, soldiers should establish a GoArmyEd account even if they arent quite ready to start school according to Pamela Raymer, chief of the Army Continuing Education System under Human Resources Command.
This account will give them access to an interactive tool with information about the careers they can pursue, the income they can expect from those careers, the degrees that support those careers and the colleges that offer those degrees, she said. Schools must be registered with GoArmyEd and accredited by agencies recognized by the Education Department to be included.
Recently, the Army ended a policy that required soldiers to delay using TA for one year from the time they complete Advanced Individual Training, for enlisted troops, or the initial Basic Officer Leader Course, for officers. This rule-change opened up the benefit to nearly 95,000 additional soldiers, Raymer said. The Army also recently waived a rule that required troops who used TA to earn a bachelors degree to wait 10 years before using the benefit toward a masters. Service members must complete advanced-level military training for that rule to be waived.
- Up to $4,500 per year
- No semester-hour limits
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Can I Afford To Go To School While Im On Active Duty
Active-duty servicemembers are eligible for Military Tuition Assistance, the most common form of military financial aid assistance. The program pays up to $4,500 each fiscal year for tuition and other school expenses, aid that can serve as an important motivator for students.
If someone in the military has served long enough, they may become eligible for GI Bill benefits. However, these benefits have a few limitations for those on active-duty. Spittler explains one caveat: the housing allowance isnt available to those still serving.
With the GI Bill, theyre not going to get the housing allowance because theyre already getting that in the military, Spittler says.
The GI Bill is more likely to come into play during active reserve duty when members of the military can use the GI Bill for on-site classes. The GI Bill is also popular among veteran students. In addition, all or part of any unused GI Bill education benefits can be gifted to a spouse as long as the request is completed while the servicemember is an active member of the armed forces.
These financial perks are motivators for active-duty servicemembers to enroll in college, Spittler says. Another financial boost can come from increased rank and pay. For example, Spittler explains if someone is moving closer to a bachelors degree, they do get points toward moving up in the ranks and being promoted to the next rank.