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College Planning Center - Financing College

Military First, College Later

If you'd like to "Be All You Can Be," given your time to the military and you'll get something back when you're ready to start school. Thanks to financial programs like the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Army or Navy College Fund, you can earn up to $50,000 towards your school expenses to be used at the end of your active duty tour. Or you can serve part-time in the Reserves, receiving up to $24,500 during school if you commit to one weekend a month and two weeks a year for training.

For more information, visit these sites: The US Army, The US Navy, The US Marines, The US Coast Guard,
The US Air Force

College First, Military Later but you're looking to get your degree first and then wear a uniform full-time in the Armed Forces, you can also benefit.

If you participate in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at your college or university, you could be eligible for merit-based scholarships worth more than $50,000. The Armed Forces cover tuition and pay students a monthly allowance for living expenses. In return, you'll receive an officer's commission and be required to serve a minimum active duty obligation of 3 years for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, or 4 years for the Air Force.

For more information, visit these sites: Army ROTC, Navy ROTC,
Air Force ROTC

In addition, if you receive a Congressional appointment to one of the military academies, the federal government will pay 100% of the costs at a US military academy such as those at West Point and Annapolis. These competitive appointments consist of full 4-year scholarships, supplemental paychecks,4-year degrees, and a guaranteed job after graduation. But in return, you serve as a full-time member of the military during school and must commit to 5 years of service after graduation.

For more information, visit: The US Military Academy, The US Naval Academy, The US Air Force Academy, The US Coast Guard Academy,
The US Merchant Marine Academy

Community Service

AmeriCorps: Look into how you can volunteer in your community. Through AmeriCorps, you can receive money to help pay for school. If you serve full-time, usually for a term lasting 10 months to one year, you can be eligible for an educational award of up to $4,725. If you work part-time, you may be eligible for a partial award. For more information, visit www.americorps.org.

Learn & Serve America: This national service grant program combines school curriculum and community service. Grants are used to create new programs or provide training and development to staff, faculty, and volunteers. For more details, visit the Corporation for National Service.

Loan Forgiveness If loans are a part of your solution to paying for school, you will have to repay them in monthly installments after you leave school. The federal government may cancel all or part of an education loan under certain circumstances. Here are some examples of loan forgiveness programs. Some states offer similar programs.

Aerators: Serve for 12 months and you will receive up to $7,400 in stipends and $4,725 to be used toward your student loan. For more information, go to

Peace Corps: "The toughest job you'll ever love" will allow you to defer repayment of your Federal Stafford, Perkins, PLUS, or Direct Loans. You may also be eligible to have all or part of your Perkins Loan forgiven because of Peace Corps service. For more information, visit 

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA):. If you volunteer1,700 hours with private, non-profit groups that help eradicate hunger, homelessness, poverty, and illiteracy, you will receive $4,725 toward repayment of your student loans. For more information, see www.friendsofvista.org.

National Defense Education Act: If you become a full-time teacher in an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low income families you can have a portion of your Perkins Loans forgiven. You need to contact your school district's administration to see which schools qualify under this program.

Other Alternatives

Community College: Consider going to a community college to take advantage of lower tuition and additional savings by living at home. You can earn your associates degree after 2 years, but may be able to transfer to a 4-year school at any time.

Advanced Placement Courses: Think about taking college-level classes in high school. If you pass the placement exams with a high score, you could test out of some college courses. This might allow you to graduate early or give you the freedom to take additional courses in your major. Check with your school to find out if your scores will count toward college credits in your intended major. (One school may accept a certain score while another may require a higher score.) Talk with your high school guidance counselor for more information.