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How the Military Helps Pay for College and Job Training

The military is an honorable way for patriotic men and women to both serve their country and pursue a career. When it comes to education and career benefits, the military takes care of service members during, and after, their service. Of course, the military itself can be a rewarding career choice. But if they decide to move on, service members can access many tools, resources and benefits to successfully transition into civilian careers.

Job training during military service

An enlisted service member spends much of their first year training for their “military occupational specialty” – their military job. Many of these positions are similar to civilian jobs.

A wide range of trades and services – from electricians to nurses to musicians – is needed by the military. Many earn civilian job certifications as part of their regular military training. Air Force combat controllers, for example, get FAA certifications, just like civilian air traffic controllers.

Attending college during military service

There are a number of ways to earn higher education degrees while serving in the military.

  • The Military Tuition Assistance Program pays active-duty service members up to 100% of tuition expenses up to $250 per credit.
  • There are more than 1,900 colleges that offer service members and their families the chance to finish college degrees despite a mobile military life.
  • The Army and Marine Corps offer College Fund Programs to new service members as they join the military. These programs offer additional money on top of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Both the Army and the Navy offer loan repayment programs to help active-duty service members pay off student loans they took out before enlisting.
  • More than 1,700 colleges and universities offer Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. ROTC cadets commit to military service after graduation, and receive military officer training and tuition, fee and textbook scholarships during their time in college.
  • There are also several types of military schools: service academies, senior military colleges and maritime academies. The nature of the service required during and after attending these schools varies.

Education after military service

After a service member decides to leave the military, there are a number of opportunities for them to further their education. One of the biggest pluses for veterans is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which can cover up to 100% of college tuition expenses and up to $1,000 a month for rent. Veterans can use this program to get a college degree, vocational training or other certification. Current service members with between six and 16 years of service can also transfer this benefit to a spouse or child.

Veterans with at least two years of active-duty service can use the Montgomery GI Bill program to get up to $61,000 for college programs, flight training or apprenticeships.

Service members or their spouses can also reach out to Military OneSource education consultants while actively serving and for up to a year post-separation or retirement. These consultants can help service members and their family members figure out their education goals, find military-friendly colleges and professional programs, and apply for scholarships – all at no cost.

Career opportunities after military service

The positions that soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen hold in the military not only allow them to serve their country, but also help them collect years of experience in a trade or service. If they decide to leave the military, their service branch’s COOL program can translate their experience into a resume that civilian hiring managers can understand. Veterans can also get a leg up for many public service jobs in federal, state and local positions. Learn more about careers in the military.