Does Free College Threaten Our All
Throughout the current presidential campaign season, there have been repeated calls for free college. Channeling a long-held position by Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, said that families making under $125,000 per year should be able to send their kids to college tuition-free. As someone who graduated college tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I am inclined to sympathize with this proposal. Student debt is a critical issue.
Opponents to Clintons proposal rightly cite the immense expense that these policies would impose on the federal budget. To date, however, a serious potential implication of free college for lower and middle income students has been ignored: the impact on military recruiting.
Higher education is rightly hailed as the surest path to the middle class. Because of its cost both tuition and lost working hours a college education has not been possible for everyone across the income spectrum. In a defining moment of the last century, the federal government enacted the G.I. Bill in 1944, providing returning American soldiers with the financial wherewithal to pursue a degree. It was, perhaps, the keystone policy for expanding the U.S. economy and creating the modern American middle class.
Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Wiseman
As Biden Agrees To Cut Free College Elder Care Pentagon To Get More Funds Than It Wants
The newest defense appropriations bill, which will give the Pentagon $10 billion more than it asked for, was announced just as President Joe Biden promised he’d nix programs like free community college and elder care from the reconciliation bill in an attempt to please all members of his party.
Senate appropriators supported a 5 percent increase in defense spending for fiscal 2022 and unveiled plans for an additional $24 billion in military spending on Monday. In total, the defense appropriations bill is $725 billion$10 billion more than requested by Biden.
The announcement came as Biden and Democratic lawmakers worked to compromise on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that would expand social safety programs and infrastructure spending.
Congress is projected to spend more than $7 trillion on the Pentagon over the next 10 years, which is more than double the cost of the Build Back Better Act over the same timeframe.
Yet Biden and Democrats have been working to shrink their bill and reach a compromise between progressive and moderate lawmakers.
On Tuesday, the president met with nearly 20 lawmakers for legislative negotiations and the hope of reaching an agreement.
While the spending bill was initially anticipated to cost $3.5 trillion over 10 years, it may be reduced to between $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion, said Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives.
Montana Free College Tuition For Veterans
The State of Montana offers qualifying veterans free tuition at state schools for up to 12 semesters. The veteran must be classified as an in-state resident and have already used up all available federal GI Bill benefits.
To qualify for free tuition, you must have:
- been honorably discharged, and
- performed military service in an approved war zone or campaign
How to Apply
To apply, complete the Honorably Discharged Veteran Tuition Waiver and provide all supporting documentation to your campus Financial Aid Office.
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The Gi Bill: Helping Military Veterans Pay For College
Originally known as the Servicemens Readjustment Act of 1944, the GI Bill was started after World War II to support military veterans in their return to civilian life. Years later, plenty of military service members still use the program to fund their college education.
Heres what you need to qualify for the GI Bill:
- Have served at least 90 days of active duty, or at least 30 days if youve been discharged with a service-related disability
- In most cases, you will need to sign up for eight years of military service. The most common arrangement involves four years of active duty, and four years of reserve duty
Military vets can choose between the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. Both paths offer a number of benefits, so its up to you to make your decision based on your educational goals and service history.
The Montgomery Gi Bill
The MGIB sends monthly checks directly to eligible students for their schooling however, students under this program do not qualify for housing allowance or book stipends. They cannot apply for additional funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program either.
MGIB Active Duty
For vets who have served at least two years of active duty, the military pays for college through the MGIB-AD. If you qualify, youll receive up to 36 months of education benefits. The amount you receive depends on:
- Length of service
- The amount paid into the $600 Buy-Up program
The $600 Buy-Up program is an opportunity for active-duty service members to increase the benefits from their MGIB-AD. You can make additional contributions in $20 increments, with each $20 increment resulting in a $180 increase to your total 36-month benefit. This could increase your total benefits by $5,400!
MGIB Selected Reserve
Vets who have chosen the MGIB-SR can receive up to $384 per month for tuition, up to 36 months. This path is open to members of the reserve and National Guard forces who have met the following criteria:
- Finished a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve or Guard
- If you are an officer, agree to serve six years in addition to your original obligation
- Complete your initial active duty for training
- Receive a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before completing the IADT
- Remain in good standing throughout your service in an active Selected Reserve unit
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How To Apply For Ta
Regardless of your branch in the armed forces, you will need information about your school, program, and courses in order to complete your application.
Create an account at GoArmyEd and apply online. You will receive an email notification if/when your request is approved.
NAVY, MARINES, AND, COAST GUARD
Create an account for the Air Force Virtual Education Center using the Air Force Portal. Complete the online application process. You will receive an email notifying you if/when your request is approved.
Using The Rotc Program To Pay For College
ROTC is a scholarship program in which you take elective courses in addition to the coursework required of your major. Candidates are awarded merit-based scholarships on a four-, three-, and two-year basis. These scholarships pay for tuition, room, and board.
In addition to the scholarship, you can also receive a monthly living stipend of up to $420 per month.
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Montgomery Gi Billactive Duty
To be eligible for college funding through the Montgomery GI BillActive Duty , veterans must have served at least two years of active duty during certain time periods and meet other criteria listed on the VA website. In most cases, they must also have paid a total of $1,200 into the education program while they were serving.
If they qualify, they can receive up to 36 months of financial assistance toward college. As of October 2020, the maximum monthly benefit was $2,122 a month for full-time students or a total of $76,392 over the three years.
Maximize Your Gi Benefits
There are several things you can do to ensure you receive the maximum benefit available:
- Calculate tuition and housing costs and benefits under each plan.
- Attend your program full-time if possible. Under the Montgomery GI Bill, your monthly payment will vary based on your credit load. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you only qualify for a housing allowance if you complete your program on more than a half-time basis.
- Enroll in at least one on-campus class if youâre claiming benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This will allow you to receive the entire standard housing allowance.
- Check to see if your state has educational programs for veterans, like the Illinois Veterans Grant. Often, you can receive benefits under both a GI Bill and your state program.
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Which Schools Waive Out
The University of Mississippi, known better for its sports and other co-curricular activities, encourages veterans to attend with its Military Non-Resident Tuition Scholarship, which pays for the extra tuition that out-of-state students automatically get.
This scholarship is also available to the spouses and children of veterans if they meet the eligibility requirements. Federal law advises all the states to waive off out-of-state tuition for veterans and their dependents. The tuition is waived off for those who have qualified for GI Bill. The scholarship at Mississippi university is provided for the whole stay of students at the campus.
Tennessee Free College Tuition For Veterans
The Helping Heroes Grant awards up to $1,000 per semester for up to eight full semesters for honorably-discharged veterans and service members in Tennessee. Current & former reserve or national guard members called into active duty are also eligible. Qualified members must have been a Tennessee resident for one year prior to completing the grant application. The amount of financial aid you may qualify for is dependent on the nature of your military service. Veterans must also complete 12 or more credits each semester.The Helping Heroes Grant is awarded to on average 375 veterans per year. Applicants must not hold a baccalaureate degree and be enrolled in a 2 or 4 year postsecondary institution.
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Connecticut Free College Tuition For Veterans
Connecticut offers college tuition waivers for qualified veterans attending any state university or one of the 12 Connecticut Community College/Technical Colleges. This benefit is only applicable for tuition expenses for undergraduate and graduate programs and excludes course fees, books, parking, and room/board.
You qualify if you have:
- served 90 days of active duty military service during wartime
- been honorably discharged
- were a Connecticut state resident for one year prior to applying to the college
- been admitted to a degree-seeking program
How to Apply
If attending the University of Connecticut, apply at their Veterans Affairs web page. For students attending Connecticut State University, visit their Veterans Admission webpage. If attending one of the 12 Connecticut community colleges, contact the schools admission office for details.
Here’s How To Make The Most Of These Programs To Improve Your Family’s Financial Future
Members of the military have a lot of special financial issues that most people dont experience: They have to move frequently — sometimes with very little notice — and they can be deployed to war zones for months or years. But they also have access to some valuable benefits that can help with their familys personal finances.
My husband has been an Army doctor for 17 years, and he recently returned from his third deployment, where he was stationed at a combat-support hospital in southern Afghanistan for seven months. Weve had firsthand experience with the financial challenges that military families face, but weve also been able to take advantage of some special benefits offered to service members. Here are three of the top financial benefits available to members of the military and how to make the most of them to improve your familys financial future.
Low-fee retirement savings. Service members can invest in the Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement-savings program for federal employees. Similar to a 401 plan, the TSP offers a low-cost, tax-advantaged way to save for the future. But surprisingly few members of the military take advantage of this opportunity — perhaps because they think the militarys pension will be all they will need.
For more information, see the Savings Deposit Program page at the Defense Finance and Accounting Web site.
For more information about the GI Bill, see the VAs GI Bill Web site.
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Becoming A Commissioned Officeris It Right For You
Commissioned Officers cover a wide breadth of roles and responsibilities from leading and training enlisted soldiers to planning missions and managing broad administrative duties. Commissioned Officers also include those in various specialized roles, which might include army medics, chaplains, pilots, and legal counsel. In fact, management and leadership positions are available in nearly every area where enlisted positions exist. This means that you can actually apply a fairly wide range of degrees and educational paths to leadership in the military.
A degree also gives you a strong starting point for moving up the chain of command. Your career advancement as a Commissioned Officer is generally marked by the size of your command responsibility, from oversight of platoons, companies, and battalions, to jurisdiction over entire bases and theaters of operation. Depending on your focus and level of education, this path could ultimately lead to a position working in the Pentagon or for the Department of Defense.
Once youve completed your commitments to the military, your record of leadership and advancement within the service can also provide a good stepping stone to a leadership career in another aspect of government or in the private sector.
If you think youd be interested in becoming a Commissioned Officer, take a look at Go Armys Interactive Tool and find out if this career path makes sense for you.
Can I Be In The Military And College At The Same Time
If youre on active duty and thinking about pursuing further education, you might find yourself wondering, Can I be in the military and college at the same time? Youll be interested to know that the answer to that question is a resounding, Yes! Thousands of servicemembers enroll in college during their military careers to boost professional goals, accelerate personal development, and gain increases in rank and pay. Success in college has increased with the growth of military-friendly colleges online. In addition to active military students, veterans and their family members are among the thousands who benefit by earning online degrees.
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Defer Your Payments While On Active Duty
You can defer your student loan payments while on active duty and for 13 months after you return. The government will pay the interest on your Direct Loans and Federal Stafford Loans . You wont have to worry about interest accruing while youre not making principal payments.
If you have an unsubsidized loan, then you wont be able to have your interest paid while in deferment.
Pursue Your Education With Flexibility
While you may be familiar with the GI Bill, its just the beginning of the education benefits available to you. Whether you want to pursue your education before you serve, while you serve, or youve already graduated college with student loan debt, the Army offers a wide range of education benefits throughout your service.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Military Dependents
According to the U.S. Army, spouses and children under age 21 qualify as military dependents. Other relatives, such as older children, parents, and siblings, may qualify if they are full-time students. However, they must be registered through the proper channels.
Military dependents can access several tuition assistance programs, including both grants and scholarships. For example, My Career Advancement Account runs a scholarship program that offers tuition assistance funding for military spouses.
According to MilitaryBenefits.info, many schools offer tuition waivers and no tuition costs for military professionals and their dependents. Prospective students should check out specifications for each school program, as many feature unique requirements that may not apply to every applicant.
Many military spouses qualify for FAFSA, though it depends on how much the applicant’s family earns. However, completing the form can prove worthwhile for all dependents regardless of eligibility, as the data can be transferred between scholarship applications and save applicants time in the long run.
Yes. Independent schools, external organizations, and state and federal governments offer scholarships for military spouses.
Dont Take Rejection Too Personally
Finally, McCarty stresses the point that veterans should not take rejection too personally.
A lot of factors go into an admissions decision, and a rejection may not be your fault, he says. Plenty of strong applicants are rejected during each enrollment cycle. Dont let one deter you from pursuing your degree somewhere else.
He recommends that students who had their hearts set on a particular institution inquire about other alternatives.
For example, does that university have a professional college for non-traditional students? Oftentimes, these colleges offer full/part-time programs that can help you build more of an academic history of success. This can be helpful if you decide to reapply for a future semester.
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Accelerated Promotion For Education Program
The Accelerated Promotion for Education Program allows college students to enter the Army at a higher rank and pay grade. A student with 24+ college semester hours may join as a Private instead of the usual entry rank of Private . A student with 48+ college semester hours may join as a Private First Class . A student with a bachelors degree may join as a Specialist . Each of these levels translates to a promotion with a higher pay grade.
Colleges You Can Attend For Free
Americans have more student debt than ever beforee. Currently, over 44 million Americans hold a total of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and it takes the average student debt borrower 20 years to pay off their loans. For-profit colleges and private loans can be particularly treacherous traps that can tie students to mountains of student loans.
But some schools are demonstrating a commitment to accessibility and affordability. In fact, these eight schools charge absolutely nothing for tuition.
Free tuition program:“Our Tuition Promise Scholarship guarantees no student pays tuition. Berea students pay an average of $1,000 toward housing, meals and fees, with financial assistance for books available.”
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