Last year the average yearly expense for a private college in America was nearly $22,340. The cost for out-of-state residents attending public universities was over $21,629.
Even with financial aid or scholarships, finding ways to fund college without going bankrupt is becoming a bigger concern for the typical American family It has led people to examine new, unique ways to pay for school.
Will the National Guard pay for college?
The National Guard, like other branches of the military, has financial aid to help with higher education costs. In fact, more than any other branch in the U.S. Military, the National Guard consistently helps members get through college.
Are you looking to afford college without taking thousands of dollars out in loans? Is the school you really want to attend just outside your price range?
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The National Guard is a terrific option for those that do not have enough money, and also do not want to take on massive college loan debt.
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National Guard vs. Active Duty Military
There are many that may like to consider the thought of having the U.S. Military cover most, or all of their college tuition yet are hesitant to sign up for something that may put them on the front lines.
It is important to note that while the National Guard is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, it is starkly different from other types of active duty.
The National Guard is part of the U.S. Army Reserves. It is different from active duty military in that members are not committed full-time to their service.
In fact, most members of the National Guard hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time with a unit. They are able to carry on ‘normal’ lives working, going to school, or helping raise a family while also serving their country.
Ways The National Guard Can Help Pay For School
The National Guard is really sought after by some citizens because it allows you to continue to work or go to school, while also serving your country part-time.
The stations are almost always in the United States, or nearby in places like Guam or Puerto Rico, so members also do not need to worry about getting displaced.
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In addition to the traditional benefits of serving your country proudly and being a part of something bigger than yourself, the National Guard college pay programs are exceptional.
In short, the Guard will cover college tuition, room and board (housing), as well as graduate school in certain cases.
The National Guard supports tuition assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill, Army National Guard Kicker, and also hosts scholarships related to higher education learning.
The Guard has also helped many receive their GED or high school diploma.
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The organization has always been encouraging and supportive of those that wish to seek higher education.
Here is a quick breakdown of the different methods you can utilize to receive college tuition assistance, room and board, and graduate school or Medical school assistance.
100% College Tuition Assistance
The National Guard can potentially cover every single dollar of your college tuition.
It does depend on what school you decide upon, however, the National Guard will commit up to $18,000 over four years. It averages approximately $4,500 per year based on the commitment.
When you consider tuition expenses alone, the National Guard college pay program should cover your tuition in full as long as you are not attending an extremely prestigious, and expensive school.
You can learn more about the college tuition assistance program here.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill is offered to National Guard members in addition to the college tuition assistance they already provide.
The monthly allowance from the GI Bill can go up to $333 for general college expenses. It totals approximately $11,000 over a four-year period.
Unlike the college tuition assistance program, the GI Bill money is sent directly to your personal account so you can use the money on books, supplies, or whatever else you need covered.
Learn more about the Montgomery GI bill here.
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Post 9/11 GI Bill
Have you served in other branches of the U.S. Military for at least 90 days on or since September 11, 2001?
If so, you are entitled to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The legislation can provide up to 100 percent tuition coverage based on how long you served in active duty.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill also supports advanced secondary education like graduate school and Medical school. The Yellow Ribbon Program has separate funds for these types of students.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill also features an annual stipend of $1,000 for books and supplies in certain cases. It is also transferable to your dependents.
Learn more about the Post 9/11 GI Bill here.
Army National Guard Kicker
In addition to the Montgomery GI Bill, the Army National Guard Kicker pays up to $350 per month on living expenses. The kicker can last as long as 36 months and cover as much as $12,600.
It should be noted that you first need to qualify then apply for the Army National Guard Kicker.
Some of the pre-qualification requirements include:
- Must complete Initial Active Duty For Training (IADT). You actually can’t receive Kicker payments while on active duty.
- Be eligible to receive a basic Montgomery GI bill benefit. This includes having at least a high school diploma, and maintaining selected reserve status.
In order to be eligible to receive the Kicker bonus, here are some of the basic eligibility requirements:
Non-prior service applicants
- Enlist for a minimum of 6 years
- Minimum AFQT score of 50
- Meet the Tier 1 educational requirements. Tier 1 includes those members who are either working on their first bachelors degree, or have earned one without tuition assistance funds and want to get their masters degree.
- Enlist for a critical skill vacancy in the grade of E-4 or below
Prior service applicants
- Minimum AFQT score of 31
- Enlist for a minimum of 6 years
- Enlist into a qualifying vacant position in an MTOE unit only. An MTOE unit is considered a combat ready, deployable force.
There are a wide variety of other stipulations that need to be met as well. For more information you should consult a local recruiter.
They’ll be able to lay out everything for you in an easy-to-understand format.
Learn more about the National Guard kicker program here.
Other Types of National Guard College Pay Programs
The Army National Guard has additional financial assistance programs for its members.
The Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) scholarships can help finance your higher learning. There is a wide range of merit-based scholarships and additional funds available through the U.S. Armed Forces.
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Already attended college but still paying back student loans?
The National Guard supports a student loan repayment program known as SLRP. It directly supports soldiers and officers with existing student loan debt at the time of enlistment.
SLRP may pay for up to $50,000 in college debt for certain jobs, which is incredible. There are additional requirements so a local recruiter can help with the details regarding the obligation.
The Guard is particularly kind to those that extend their enlistment contracts for a minimum period of six years. The incentive can help cover previous undergraduate tuition, graduate school, medical school expenses.
What the National Guard Will NOT Pay For
The National Guard cannot guarantee 100 percent coverage of your college tuition. It can also not promise to help forgive 100 percent of existing student loan debt.
However, its college tuition assistance is outstanding. You would struggle to find any type of employer that could come close to matching this type of higher learning assistance.
Also, while room and board is usually not covered in full from the Army National Guard Kicker, or other stipends – it can help cover half or most of your living expenses, depending on where you are located.
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How to Get the National Guard to Pay for College:
In order to apply for college tuition assistance, please consider the following steps:
- Contact a local U.S. Army National Guard recruiter. Explain during your initial meeting that you are hoping to receive college tuition assistance during your time serving the U.S. Military. You can fill out a contact form online to get started.
- Take an eligibility test. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test helps determine what jobs in the Guard you qualify for.
- Enlist in the U.S. Army National Guard. By now you know the ship date of your Basic Combat Training as well as assignment and pay.
- Complete basic training. After you finish Basic Combat Training you will get recognized as a full-service member.
- Qualify and apply for college tuition assistance. Once you are a full-service member of the Guard you can start receiving college tuition assistance depending on the program and its qualifications. Contact a rep in the National Guard for more details.
Other Benefits of Joining the National Guard
In addition to the wonderful benefits provided by the National Guard in terms of achieving a college degree, or helping pay for existing student loans, the Guard has many other benefits.
Serving the National Guard is a special honor because it allows you to still live your life on your own terms. Young people can still pursue college full-time or continue to work a civilian job.
Family men and women can still remain close to their families for the vast majority of the year, yet also get some financial assistance.
It is a great alternative to active duty because the commitment is not nearly as demanding yet still offers the same self-fulfillment and pride that comes with any traditional type of military service.
You will learn things about your character you never envisioned, join a second family in the U.S. Military, help serve your country directly in it, and receive plenty of government benefits in the process.
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Will the National Guard pay for college?
Depending on the program you select and type of school, it is possible to have 100 percent of your tuition covered. The National Guard can also help cover books and supplies. Additionally, its stipends help support room and board related to college.
If you would like to avoid student loans, enlisting in the National Guard is one of the best things you could do for your higher learning.
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