Active Duty Tuition Assistance (TA) is one of the many great benefits available to servicemembers, and it is one big reason many incoming recruits opt to join the Armed Forces. The rules and requirements are different depending on your specific service branch, but wherever you are TA will support you and the goals you’ve set for your education.
Your Education Service Officer (ESO) is your best resource for assistance in choosing a military-friendly school that meets your educational needs. He or she can provide you with information, advice and support in navigating the often complicated maze of the college-search process.
When you meet with your ESO to discuss your schooling options, use the following questions as a guide:
1. Is there anyone else on the military installation that attends this school?
Knowing someone else who attends the same school is helpful for several obvious reasons. It’s nice to have a “familiar face” on campus that can answer your questions about the college, and you may gain a study partner if you are in the same program.
2. Does this school currently or historically have any relationships with the military?
If the answer is yes, you’ll know you’ve found a reliable college that is familiar with and supports servicemembers’ needs and customs.
3. Do this school’s programs fit my goals?
- Find out about regional and national accreditation for the transferability of any credits.
- Does the school offer credit for military service? (Some schools that grant credit for service may also have higher required credit hours for graduation.)
- What are the attendance policies for this program, and will they fit into my schedule? It’s worth finding out what options there are for servicemembers, especially what the distance learning and online possibilities are.
- Will the program lead me in the direction I want to go either during my service or after I separate from the service?
4. Does the school’s reputation and history support the impression I expect from earning my degree?
Don’t go just by popularity of the school. Look at its reputation, history and alumni whereabouts. Study the school’s website and schedule a visit and tour if possible.
If your ESO can provide this information, ask him or her if they feel this school will stand strong under the scrutiny the government is placing over the nation’s higher education system.
The college selection process can be time-consuming and possibly overwhelming, but your future is riding on this choice, so it’s worth the effort to research your options and make an informed decisions. Take advantage of the support, resources, and advice your ESO can offer and work closely with him or her to find a reputable, military-friendly college that meets most, if not all, of your educational goals.
Make sure that you are satisfied with the answers to the questions above, and ask your ESO some of your own questions, too. Your college experience and degree will be with you forever, so you owe it to yourself and your future to find the best fit!