Most students enjoy coming home for holidays and summer breaks while they attend college. But when a parent is stationed outside of the continental United States (OCONUS), the cost of travel can make that trip out of the question. Fortunately, there are specific regulations that cover the cost of travel for college students in these cases, and they apply not only to foreign countries but to Hawaii and Alaska as well.
How to qualify for travel benefits
The government will pay for one round trip each calendar year for college students if:
- The rest of the family is living OCONUS with the military member. In other words, the military parent is on an accompanied tour and the student is sponsored by the command.
- The service member has custody of the college student.
- The student is not married and is less than twenty-three years old, although there are some exceptions as to age.
- The student is attending an accredited college or school to obtain an undergraduate degree or post-secondary vocational or technical training.
- The student attends school full-time (at least twelve credit hours).
Before students receive this benefit, they must first travel to the military parent's home on permanent change of station (PCS) orders. For example, if a student's family moves to Hawaii in October while he or she is attending school at the University of Colorado, he or she can finish the semester and then fly to Hawaii for winter break on the PCS orders. After that, one round trip each calendar year will be paid for by the government. This means that the student's return to school and flight back to Hawaii would be covered. But the student would have to wait one calendar year after his or her return to school - the first leg of the round trip - before receiving military-paid travel again.
This travel benefit must be authorized through the service member's command and completed through the military travel office. For more information see the travel coordinator on your installation.