Enlisted personnel in most branches of the U.S. Military, or students interested in serving in the military, have many options available to them to help pay for college. Branches of the U.S. Military make significant financial investments in their personnel, and coverage for college expenses is one of the most valuable benefits once can receive in the armed forces.
One of the most common programs through which students receive money for college and military training, and eventually become commissioned by a branch of the U.S. Military, is the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship Program. ROTC is available for students interested in the U.S. Army (AROTC), the U.S. Navy (NROTC), and the U.S. Air Force (AFROTC). The scholarship program covers all (or most) tuition fees, allowances for textbooks and equipment fees, and provides monthly living stipends. Students accepting an ROTC scholarship are required to fulfill a service commitment after graduation, usually with service on active duty. For more information about ROTC scholarships, what they provide, who is eligible, and what the service commitments entail, read our ROTC article.
Students interested in attending the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, or the U.S. Coast Guard Academy may qualify for Service Academy Scholarships. These competitive awards are based on several factors, including high school grades, SAT or ACT scores, proven leadership skills, or athletic talent. Students who receive Service Academy Scholarships receive their undergraduate education at one of the participating military academies, with all tuition and fees payed by their chosen military branch. Like ROTC scholarships, the Service Academy Scholarships also come with a service commitment after graduation.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill also provides education benefits to many members of the U.S. Military. Those who have served at least 90 days or more on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 are eligible for benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits at higher learning institutions. Benefits cover tuition, fees, monthly living stipends, books, and other supplies. In some cases, benefits may be transferable to a soldier's spouse or dependent children. To learn more about these benefits, read our article about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
In addition to ROTC, Service Academy Scholarships, and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, there are other means available to pay for college from the branches of the U.S. military. The information below will give you some insight into the many options available, but should not be taken as a complete list. Consult your local military recruiter to discuss all options available to you to pay for college, if you decide you are ready and able to undertake a commitment to a branch of the U.S. Military.