College Funds and the Armed Forces

I understand that the military has many opportunities regarding education and career goals. Is it a good step for my daughter?

--A Parent Soup member

Bruce Hammond

Bruce Hammond is an expert on college prep, applications and cost, and author of Discounts and Deals at the Nation's 360 Best Colleges and... Read more

Using the military can be a good step in paying for college so long as your daughter is comfortable with the idea of serving both during and after college. The services pay for an education through three primary vehicles.

The first is to enter one of the academies; for information about the requirements and admissions process, you could visit the Web site of one or more of them. Admission standards are high, with a premium on leadership and physical fitness.

A second option is Reserve Officer Training (ROTC), which can yield as much as $15,000 per year. Instead of attending an academy, the student would attend a participating college as a student with a normal major, though he or she would also complete an ROTC curriculum and agree to serve for a period after graduation. Standards for ROTC are high but not quite as difficult as the academies. You can visit the ARMY ROTC National Headquarters; the other services have similar sites.

The Montgomery G.I. Bill is the third possible source of college funds. It entails enlistment in the service before college. At the end of at least two years of service, the soldier can get a discharge and $10,000-plus for education.

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