Few people join the military for the pay, they join for the benefits. World travel, three hearty meals a day for which there is no charge, and training in any number of vocational and technical skills make it the choice for many men and women. Service members and their immediate families also have access to some of the best educational assistance programs that exist today, whether they are on active duty, or have been discharged or are retired.

Exploring Your Options

Current service members have access to up to $4,500 annually in Tuition Assistance. This is assistance that is given directly to the school on a per class basis. Active service members can also use their GI Bill benefits, though it is not a good idea.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay for up to 4 years of college. It also pays for tuition at technical or vocational schools, flight training, and other job training. Benefits are based on time spent on active duty, and there are some limitations for those who are currently on active duty. These benefits can also be transferred to a spouse or immediate family member.

The Montgomery GI Bill is for both veterans and active duty service men and women. It also provides for up to 4 years of assistance with an education at college, technical or vocational schools, apprenticeships, and flight training. To be eligible for assistance with this GI Bill depends on when you enlisted and how long you served. This bill pays up to $1564 monthly for service members enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university.

To learn more about scholarships for spouses and children of military members, visit the Freedom is Not Free web site to find out about it.

There are also loan repayment programs available, provided that you are not in default. For most people these programs are a great help in paying for most of their needs while enrolled in college, but for most, you may need a loan to cover expenses that your military benefits do not cover.

The 411 On Federal Loans

Federal loans are an excellent way to bridge the gap between your military benefits, and other financial needs such as room and board, fees, books, and other living needs. The Stafford Loan is the most common federal loan used for undergraduate and graduate students, and these loans can either be subsidized or unsubsidized.

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans have many similarities, and one big difference. The government pays the interest on subsidized loans until such time as the student starts making monthly payments. Unsubsidized loans assign the interest to the student from the day the loan is issued.

Interest rates on subsidized loans tend to be about 50% lower on average than unsubsidized loans, are only available to undergraduates who can demonstrate financial need. Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Click here to get more information on the subject.

Use this information to make the right decision for you and your family.

Military Service: The Benefits Credit Picture License: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

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