A Free College Education

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Dec 6, 2010 in , , , , , | No Comments

U.S. Military Education-Paid Program

At a recent job fair, I took the time to speak with a U.S. Military Recruiter. For some time now, I’ve heard the military pays for the college education of those enlisted. I wanted to know how their program worked. After speaking with the recruiter, I walked away with a better perspective of the military’s education-paid program.

The Specifics

What must someone do to qualify? How do you obtain an expensive education free of charge?

As with any program, an entry exam is taken to determine a persons ability–not only for military service–but for possible academic funding. When I questioned the recruiter regarding the exam, I asked what level it was gauged for, I was surprised it was at an 8th grade level. The math portion, the recruiter told me, was the most difficult for many taking the test. However, anyone can improve their chances of passing by simply reviewing, either taking a refresher course or using several resources at the local library.

College students are familiar with maintaining a certain grade point average to continue in good standing. The same applies to the military education-paid program, but it is lower than most colleges. If you maintain at least a “D” average, you are allowed to stay in their educational program. But, if you don’t maintain at least the minimum, you will lose all funding (which includes textbooks) and may even be liable to pay back the monies already spent on your education. This is fair to the American taxpayers, since it is their money that is footing the bill for those expensive educations.

While in the military people are able to earn a college degree, but also gain work experience, a paycheck and valuable skills. Basically, once enlisted you’re guaranteed a paid position for as long as you serve. For some people, this is welcome relief from months (or years) of unemployment, with no relief in sight, along with not having debt for a college education. After serving, you walk out with a college degree, skills and work experience which may be transferred to a civilian job.

If Money for College is Gone

The downturn in the economy wiped out many plans for the future. Given how expensive a college education is running, a free education may be what helps cash-poor high school students realize their dream.

A large number of college students are now unemployed or underemployed. Without the ability to continue paying for tuition, books, or housing, some are seeking alternatives which they would not have considered previously. Taking what credits they’ve already accumulated, they pick up where they left off through the education-paid program in the military.

Additionally, students and parents not wanting to incur massive debt for an education are considering this route too.

Read the Fine Print

As with anything that is given to you free of charge, it is wise to get all the facts–in writing–about the education program and fully understand the commitment involved. A military commitment requires a few years out of your civilian life that might be served in a war zone. It is certainly not a decision to take lightly or without sincere soul-searching.

Understand that military recruiters are doing a job, so keep that in mind when discussing the subject of enlistment with them. They may entice you with large signing bonuses worth thousands of dollars. Be sure you know exactly what they are promising, again, get it in writing.

If you feel this is an avenue you want to pursue, seek out people who have gone down this road. Ask them to be upfront with you about the pro’s and con’s, listen carefully. Discuss what you have learned with family and friends who have your best interest in mind. Then take time to make your final decision by weighing all of the options available.

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages. http://workforcedevelopment.edublogs.org/