Benefits of Military Service
Military service may not be the best option for every student, however, there are significant educational benefits available to students who have an interest in joining a branch of the United States Armed Forces. The information provided here is a summary of requirements published by each individual branch of the service.
Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB)
The MGIB may provide up to 36 months of educational benefits to eligible members. MGIB benefits can be used for degree courses, certificate programs, and other educational opportunities. Typically, the benefits can be used for up to 10 years after separation from the military. Students interested in participating in the MGIB must indicate so at the time of enlistment. A new enlistee is required to contribute $100 from his or her paycheck each month for the first year of service. Upon successful completion of the first year requirements, a service member may then be "vested" in the program.
In addition to the Montgomery G.I. Bill, each branch of the military also has a College Fund (or similarly named program for each branch). Listed below are typical program requirements.
- Students must be high school graduates.
- Recipients must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
- Specific job categories may be targeted.
- The program may pay up to 100% (per semester hour) of the cost of college courses.
- Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical.
- Courses can be taken from two- or four-year institutions, on- or off-base, or by correspondence.
- Military members are restricted to a maximum of $3,500 of tuition assistance per fiscal year.
For each branch of the service, there are differences in these types of programs. More details may be found through each branch’s Web site.
United States Air Force
United States Army
United States Marines
United States Navy
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
The guidelines listed here are for the Army ROTC program. Each branch of military service has its own ROTC program. The other branches of the military, the Air Force ROTC and the Navy ROTC (includes Marines) may have slightly different requirements.
ROTC is an elective course that students enroll in at participating colleges and universities. It is important to note that schools without an ROTC program of their own may allow their students to take ROTC courses at nearby schools that participate in the program.
- ROTC courses count as electives toward a student's degree.
- Students that successfully complete the ROTC courses and their degree will receive a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army.
- ROTC offers hundreds of merit-based scholarships each year, some as high as $70,000, including a monthly stipend. Guidelines for the scholarships include:
- the scholarships are based on merit only;
- tuition and fees are covered;
- a book allowance is provided; and
- recipients are eligible for a tax-free stipend of a minimum of $250/month (depending on the student’s academic level) for each academic month per year.
- ROTC scholarships are awarded in the following categories: 4-year, 3-year, Historically Black College or University (HBCU), and Active Duty.
- Each of the branches of service has its own special requirements, but generally, a high school applicant would need to meet these criteria:
- be a U.S. citizen;
- be 17 years of age before using the scholarship;
- be under 27 years old when graduating from college;
- receive a minimum ACT score of 19 or a minimum score of 920 on the SAT I; and
- have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
- The traditional ROTC program lasts four years. The Basic Course covers the first two years. Students who enroll in and complete the Basic Course but choose not to continue to the Advanced Course do not incur a future military obligation.
- Admission to the Advanced Course, which comprises the second two years of the program, is competitive and not automatic. The Advanced Course also includes attendance at a training camp during the summer between the student's junior and senior year of college.
- Throughout the four-year program all books, supplies, and uniforms needed for any aspect of ROTC are provided free of charge. In addition, students selected for the Advanced Course receive a living allowance of up to $2,000 per year.
- A student who is interested in the ROTC program and has missed the first two years may still possibly be eligible for the Advanced Course. There are several criteria for eligibility and there are additional requirements. Students in this situation should consult with a ROTC coordinator.
- Students who complete the program and receive a commission are required to serve as either active duty or reservists.
Illinois Air Force ROTC Schools