Paying for College with Armed Forces Service

Since 1944, members of the United States Armed Forces have received help paying for their college education. Today, members of any branch of the armed forces have a number of government-sponsored financial aid options at their disposal. For many students, military service is a way to see their college goals funded and fulfilled.

Military financial aid programs allow you to attend college full-time. Students may choose to serve after they graduate or they may participate in a reserve (ROTC) or National Guard program during college. Both can qualify you to receive money for college.

Every branch of the military offers financial aid programs for active duty service members. Active duty means you have to sign up for military service for a specified period of time – the norm is 4 years but you can sign up for 2, 3, and 6-year programs if you prefer.

Montgomery G.I. Bill

The Montgomery G.I. Bill allows students to receive money for higher education. The money can be used for a traditional college or any other higher educational institution.

The amount a student can receive depends on how long you enlist, but, along with tuition assistance “kickers,” students can earn up to $73,836 for college. That’s a lot of cash. The money can be used after you finish serving active duty or for part-time enrollment during your service. There are also tuition assistance programs to help soldiers wishing to take classes while on active duty.

The G.I. Bill may also apply to those serving in the military reserves.

Reserve Officers Training Corps

Another option to consider is the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). This program is offered at hundreds of colleges across the country through the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Training Corps program allows students to attend ROTC classes and conduct training activities for two years with no obligation for service. Students that stay with the program must commit to serve as an officer for at least three years after graduation, but they may compete for full-tuition scholarships and even yearly stipends.

College Loan Repayment Program

The college loan repayment programs are for students who accumulated student loan debt. Those eligible may have already graduated from college, or taken only a few courses. But those who enlist may be eligible for thousands of dollars in student loan repayments.

Explore Your Options

Each branch of the military offers a variety of programs to help all types of students future, current and former pay for college. To see which programs you may be eligible for, and which may be right for you, visit,, or