Guest post by Hugh Miller - Whether you have ever served in the military in any of its special branches or you are just interested in learning more about career opportunities that may include military service, it is important to learn as much as you can about how a formal degree program can further enhance your career in any walk of life.
The education of our troops, so that they can continue to share their passion for serving our country even as civilians, is critical, but many military service personnel are so involved in their military duties and family lives that finding time to pursue an advanced education both within or outside of the military can seem like almost too much. That is why it is important to provide the information they need in an easy to digest format.
Understanding the G.I. Bill
The G.I. Bill is a governmental program that falls under the Department of Veterans Affairs (or VA). The G.I. Bill itself is a bill that was passed to offer financial assistance to military personnel who meet certain service-based requirements. Because there are different versions of the G.I. Bill and different higher learning institutions handle the Bill differently (for instance, public versus for-profit private colleges and universities) it is important to research how the Bill applies to you if you have offered or are now involved in offering military service. The general provisions mandate that qualified public schools provide full tuition and fee reimbursement for military personnel or veterans who attend in-state public institutions.
These institutions are reimbursed directly through the VA office that handles the G.I. Bill. Reimbursement rates and requirements may vary for out-of-state public institutions, private institutions, and other types of education and certification programs. It is highly possible to obtain an online teaching certification or other type of advanced education under the G.I. Bill provided you first become educated about how the Bill applies to you and what institutions you are qualified to attend under the Bill. The VA can assist with this.
Watch Out for Scams
As with any popular and successful program, the G.I. Bill has had its share of problems as it has slowly outgrown its infancy. In April 2012, President Obama responded to scams that were designed to heavily market for-profit university degrees to vulnerable veterans, who would be required to pay higher tuition than they would have by attending a qualified in-state public institution. This scandal culminated in the Department of Veterans Affairs taking back the official G.I. Bill website and President Obama signed a federal mandate that required trademarking of the phrase “G.I. Bill” to ensure that no non-governmental entity could use it for its own profitable gain. This action underscores how vital it is to ensure that you contact the VA office to determine your eligibility for G.I. Bill tuition and fees reimbursement and make sure that you are getting the best financial package that is available to you.
Start Now to Plan for Your Higher Education Future
Plenty of active duty military are already engaged in earning an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, certification or other type of higher education while still serving in the military. By maximizing your time and military education benefits in this way, you are able to emerge from military service, if that is your desire, already on track to earn an advanced degree and qualify for financial assistance under the G.I. Bill. You can also continue your education while continuing your military service and have a rewarding career while obtaining specialized education and training that can help you advance as well. There are provisions in place to offer military service personnel and veterans special educational opportunities that civilians do not have access to, and in this it is recognized how important it is to educate our troops throughout their career. So be sure to take advantage of these special benefits to continue your education, whether as a career military employee or a private civilian who is also a veteran.
(image by sffoghorn at flikr creative commons)