Returning to the civilian world after years of military service can be a rocky path. For many former service members, higher education is an effective way to smooth out the bumps and make the transition easier. A college degree can open many doors, but securing the funds to pay for your education is a major obstacle. Read on to learn how you can find help in affording your education after serving in the military.
There are lots of scholarships available specifically for active duty military, veterans and their dependents. Scholarships are offered by many different organizations, including universities, clubs and memorial funds. The Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, awards a variety of scholarships for room and board, tuition or books and fees. These scholarships are very competitive and open to both students and enlisted military members.
The college or university you plan to attend may have special financial assistance programs available for members of the military. Ask your financial aid officer about grants, loans and military education finance options that you may qualify for because of your service. Financing programs for military members usually have much better terms and interest rates than those available to the general public.
Another effective way to find sources of funding for your post-military education is to speak with your military contacts. Networking can turn up possibilities that you may have not known about otherwise, such as scholarships and grants, as well as future opportunities for internships and employment. Don't have many contacts? It's not too late to start building your network. Get in touch with fellow personnel and superiors via email, phone or social media.
Finally, it's essential to advertise your military experience on your resume and applications when applying to colleges or universities. The financial aid department can't connect you with funding opportunities if they are unaware of your service. Applications listing military experience are sometimes funneled into a special department for processing in order to more effectively place qualified students with the funding they deserve.
If you can't come up with enough money to finance your college education, don't panic. There are many alternatives to consider, such as going to a more affordable school or pursuing a trade. You can also apply for private student loans or personal loans, but be careful because these sources usually have higher interest rates and less agreeable terms.