If I Enlist in the Military, Will I Be Able to Get My College Education Paid For?

Because of the high cost of education, some individuals will choose to enlist in the military to get their college education paid for. Some students enroll in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in order to get a college education prior to entering the military. Others enlist in the military prior to completing a degree program and then take advantage of the GI Bill. Since ROTC generally requires enrollment prior to commencing a military career as well as a long-term commitment to the military, let’s take a closer look at the current GI Bill.

Who Is Eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

In order to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must have served a minimum of 90 days on active duty after September 10, 2001 or have been honorably discharged due to a service-related disability after serving a minimum of 30 continuous days following September 10, 2001. Some GI Bill benefits are also available to the children of service members killed in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.

What Expenses Does the GI Bill Cover?

Although merely enlisting for military service doesn’t guarantee tuition assistance, most military veterans will receive some help in paying for college. Expenses covered by the GI Bill include:

  • A percentage of tuitions and fees paid directly to the institution of higher learning
  • A monthly housing allowance for veterans who are enrolled in full-time schooling
  • A yearly stipend for books and supplies

The percentage of benefits paid depends on each individual’s total period of active duty service. For those who were discharged honorably due to a service-related disability after at least 30 days of continuous service, 100 percent of the maximum benefit is payable. The same is true for veterans with a minimum of 36 months total of active duty. Benefits are payable at lower rates for veterans with less active duty.

What Training or Schooling Does the GI Bill Cover?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers most types of colleges, trade schools and on-the-job training. Veterans can use it to receive a wide variety of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Depending on the amount of schooling required, the GI Bill may pay for some graduate school. It may also pay for tutoring, licensing and certification tests. It does not necessarily cover the cost of private education or out-of-state tuition. You can learn more about what the current GI Bill covers and whether or not you are eligible for it from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

A college education isn’t cheap. However, those who have sacrificed in order to serve our country deserve to have the best possible education provided to them. A college education isn’t guaranteed to everyone who enlists in the military. However, if you enlist in the military and complete your years of service, you should qualify to have at least a portion of your college education paid for. This is just one way that American taxpayers will thank you for your loyalty and service to the country.

For other ways to fund a college education, please see: How Do I Find Scholarships for College?