Military Scholarships

The various branches of the military combine to offer scholarship assistance at levels as large as many other sources. There are several ways to look at this special area of financial assistance, depending on the individual’s status as a working person, the income of that person, the age of the applicant and so on. Scholarship assistance may be available to children of veterans, to high school students who will combine college and military service, and to veterans who want to attend college.

Many people are familiar with one of the first programs aimed at helping military veterans re-establish themselves in society after serving in armed forces. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill, was signed into law in 1944 by President Franklin Roosevelt and was meant to assist veterans of World War II. Under the guidelines of this law, many veterans attended college and trade school in addition to purchasing homes and starting families.

Through the decades since then, legislation for veterans has adjusted benefits. Men and women in uniform still earn education benefits but these benefits now are offered as an incentive to join the current all-volunteer military forces. The program still has home-loan guarantees as well.

For example, under the current federal legislation, individuals may qualify for money for college at any two or four-year college, vocational school, or correspondence course. A high school graduate may commit to full-time duty with one branch of the military. During the time of service, the individual can qualify for college assistance by contributing $100 per month for 12 months through payroll deduction. This simple plan then makes the individual eligible for $536 a month for 36 months for a total of $19,296 under the four-year program. This can be used as a part-time student while serving, or as a full-time student when service is completed.

But this active-duty program is just one method of getting help with college costs. Many colleges and universities have a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. During the first two years of college a student attends ROTC classes, such as military science, and participates in training activities. With this plan there is no obligation to the military after completing the basic program. In addition, the four-year Army ROTC scholarship program has these requirements: U.S. citizen between ages of 17 and 26; high school grade point average of 2.50 and above, with diploma or GED; minimum of 920 on SAT or 19 on ACT. The applicant must also meet certain physical standards and agree to serve either in active Army, Reserve or National Guard.

It may be a good idea to look into the College Fund programs of the various branches as well, if you are interested in combining education with military service. With the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard College Fund programs and individual could receive as much as $50,000 when combined with the Montgomery GI Bill.

Federal law governing this program allows the armed services to offer to increase G.I. Bill basic allowance at the time of entry onto active duty. The individual must have a particular skill or specialty and enter at a military rating where is a critical shortage. For example, the U.S. Navy exercises this option through the Navy College Fund (NCF).

The NCF Program is not offered to every recruit. Each branch of the armed services administers its own college fund program. The Navy funds the NCF and the offer is not up to the recruiter. To qualify for training in a selected Navy rating the individual must agree to serve on active duty for 3 or more years, depending on the program for which the individual is selected; graduate from high school; achieve an AFQT score of 50 or higher; be 17-35 years old; enroll in the MGIB Program and agree to pay the required $1,200 pay reduction; receive an “Honorable” Character of Service.

Another branch of the service offers a rather unique opportunity for those interested in scientific and technical fields. The Community College of the Air Force, an accredited two-year college, offers more than 70 associate degree programs in these scientific and technical fields. The community college program is free of charge for Air Force enlisted personnel. In addition, there are tuition assistance programs in which the individual may be reimbursed up to 75% of tuition. One of the great benefits of this program is that it may also apply to a spouse and/or children.

Military scholarship help does not just apply to the active duty person. The spouses of military personnel may be able to get college tuition assistance from groups that work with family members of active duty, reserve and retired military personnel as well as surviving veterans. Such scholarships can supply hundreds of dollars for tuition, fees, books, room and board. As with many scholarship programs, the deadline for this plan is in March so that the assistance can be applied to the next year’s costs. The application process can include a personal interview, written questions and an essay that explains the individual situation and financial need.

Children and other dependants of military personnel, living and deceased veterans may also qualify for college tuition assistance. These programs usually require that the child or dependant attend college full-time and are often administered by individual states under laws specific to that state. A good place to start might be with the local chapter of a veterans organization. Someone from this group should be able to put you in touch with staff members at the state level, who can guide you to a tuition program for children/dependants of veterans.

The various veterans organizations may also be a good source for some scholarship help. The amount of money available varies, with smaller amounts given by local chapters and larger amounts awarded on a more competitive basis when applicants reach the state, regional or national level.

No matter which avenue you take in pursuing college tuition help and scholarship funds, the assistance from branches of the military can give you the opportunity to learn that you might not have otherwise.