Can military service save parents $300,000?
There was a story in the Boston Globe the other day that highlighted the fact that several private universities in New England now cost more than $70,000/year to attend. The lists include Trinity College, Dartmouth College, Tufts University and Harvard College. Even if these figures are inflated when accounting for financial aid that the majority of students receive, they are still astronomical numbers. I can’t imagine what family would be willing to spend close to $300,000 to send one of their children to college.
One strategy that parents should, but don’t often consider when trying to find a way to pay for college is talking to their children about joining the military as a viable option to get a free education. After only 3 years of active service, a veteran can get a free ride to any state college or university or a significant part of a private college or university tuition paid for (and in some cases all of it) plus a living stipend and book allowance. It’s such an amazing deal.
Note: The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays for all resident tuition & fees for a public school or the lower of the actual tuition & fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school ($22,805 in 2018). If you are attending a public college or university as a non-resident student or a private college or university that is more expensive than the annual cap you may be eligible for extra payment under the Yellow Ribbon Program which could cover the difference.
There are also a number of other education benefits that each service offers to currently serving members of the military. Servicemembers can complete college courses for free using tuition assistance and take classes online or where they are serving.
There are a lot of misconceptions about military service, specifically that everyone that joins the military is going to be “on the front lines” serving in the infantry. The truth is, new enlistees can choose the job that they want to do in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy. There are many jobs that aren’t combat related and that are easily transferred to the civilian world including Information Technology, Human Resources, Logistics, Finance, Ministry, Medical, Music, Engineering, and Marketing. Plus there are the additional benefits of getting paid while serving; leadership training; opportunities to travel the world; learning transferable skills for the future; doing something different; etc.
Of course, not everyone can qualify to be in the military – you have to be in relatively good shape without any major medical issues, and if you want to be able to choose your job, you have to score higher than average on the initial aptitude tests. But if you could save $300,000, it’s at least worth having the conversation with your kid.
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