Online Education for Military Personnel

Planning to get your degree after you get out of the military? Why wait? Online education offers flexible degree programs that allow military personnel to study and even complete a degree while deployed or on reserve. This can allow you to hit the ground running when you get out of the military—you won’t have to spend four years after your tour of duty ends earning a degree instead of earning money. If you earn a degree while you’re serving, you could qualify for increased pay and promotions. In addition, military members can also study at the same school through multiple deployments when they’re enrolled in an online program—you don’t have to switch schools when you switch bases.

For these reasons, online education is often the best option for military personnel. Here are a few things you’ll need to know if you’re considering studying online while in the military.

Getting Military Tuition Assistance

The U.S. government offers extensive financial aid to military personnel and veterans, and this is often a big incentive for joining. The G.I. Bill, established after World War II to help returning vets make the transition to a civilian career, is the main grant program for returning vets. It offers tuition assistance for both traditional and online schools, for Bachelor’s, Masters and other advanced degrees.

The G.I. Bill doesn’t cover all tuition costs for online or traditional degrees, however; it pays for 100% of tuition costs only up to a certain amount. The amount varies depending on whether you’re active duty, reserve or a veteran, as well as whether you’re going to school part-time or full-time. Click here for more information about the GI Bill.

Where the G.I. Bill leaves off, other aid might kick in. The G.I. Bill Kicker, for example, provides additional aid that can increase your G.I. Bill grant by almost $1,000 a month. The Kicker is available via separate grant to personnel in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

In addition to your G.I. Bill aid, you may be eligible for special grants and scholarships for injured veterans, active-duty personnel, spouses and relatives of veterans, and others. These grants are available through Federal and state governments as well as specific schools.

Military personnel may also be able to score life experience credits with knowledge acquired while deployed. Your school may require you to take a CLEP test and demonstrate your knowledge via a portfolio, interviews, essays, and other materials before credits are granted.

Choosing a Military-Friendly School

Some schools are more accustomed to dealing with military students than others. When checking out online schools, there are a few signs you can look for that will indicate whether the school will know what you need and how to give you the best education possible as a member of the military.

Grants and scholarships specifically for military personnel. Some schools cater to the military through specific grants and loans. This indicates they’re used to dealing with military personnel and are seeking them out as students; it may also indicate better support for military members.

Flexibility in course scheduling. Does the school allow you to postpone or get a refund for course credits you’ve already signed up for if you can’t attend due to an unexpected deployment? These things are often par for the course for military students, but they can cause difficulty when trying to get an education. Talk to schools you’re considering to learn more about how they could assist you in such a situation.

Familiarity with your benefits. A military-friendly school should have staff members who are familiar with your benefits under the G.I. Bill, veterans’ programs, and other Federal, State and local programs to assist military members and vets. Your advisors should be able to counsel you on your options and help you get the best deal possible when it comes to tuition. Some schools are more knowledgeable than others, so be sure to ask about military benefits when talking to school representatives.

Online degree programs are often ideal for members of the military. They allow flexible scheduling, accept military benefits and are often more used to catering to military personnel than traditional schools are. Do your research and choose the right online school for your goals, and you should be able to leave the military with a degree already under your belt.