How to Pay for College

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army/C. Todd Lopez)
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army/C. Todd Lopez)

Have you been thinking about getting your degree, but just haven't gotten around to it yet? Why not? In most cases, procrastination is caused by one of 5 FACTORS. These barriers are:

  1. Confusion
  2. Money
  3. Time
  4. Fear
  5. Motivation

These 5 factors can block you from achieving your potential, but you can remove these barriers when you learn the terms, tricks, and tips that have helped thousands of other servicemembers and veteran's get their education. Let's focus on the next factor that can keep you from achieving your goals.

Overcoming the Money Factor!

Is the cost of getting your education delaying you from getting started on your degree? Do you want to start earning your degree, but are afraid of going deep into debt? No doubt you've heard there is a ton of college money available to you, but you just don't know where to start looking. Well, consider yourself fortunate! You are about to get all the information you need to overcome those money barriers!

There are several programs to help you deal with the money factor. They fall into two main areas of financial assistance: Direct and Indirect.

Direct Financial Assistance

Direct assistance comes in the form of cash or vouchers paid to either you or the school. As a servicemember you have many sources of direct assistance. Among these are the Armed Forces Tuition Assistance Program (TA), VA Benefits Programs (GI Bill), and Federal Student Aid (FSA).

Armed Forces Tuition Assistance

Armed Forces Tuition Assistance (TA) Programs are a benefit available to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Ready Reserve. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to $4,500 a year for 100% of your Tuition Expenses.

  • Each Service has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service requirements, application process' and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual services.
  • Additionally active duty members may elect to use the GI Bill "top-up" in addition to their service provided TA to cover high cost courses.
  • TA is not a loan; you should treat it like money you have earned just like your base pay!

Click here to get more details, and to learn how to apply.

VA Benefits

VA benefits, which include the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Active Duty & Reserve, and REAP are available for active duty, reserve, and veterans to help with education costs. You can use your GI Bill benefits for:

Click here to get more details, and learn how to apply.

Federal Student Aid

The Federal Government offers several Financial Student Aid Programs. These programs offer you extremely low interest loans, as well as grants (free money). Like the MGIB, Federal Student Aid is designed to assist you in meeting the cost of tuition, books, fees, and living expenses while you go to school. That means that once the school has taken its share, the remaining loan or grant balance goes to you.

See our Federal Student Aid page for details.

Indirect Financial Assistance

As a servicemember or veteran, you have a golden opportunity to avoid paying for college credit by applying your military experience and training, and by taking credit-by-exam tests. As you know, colleges charge tuition based on the number of credits a course is worth, so every time you apply your Military Experience or Credit-by-Exam it costs you nothing! Can you say free?

Military Experience and Training Credits

As a member or veteran of the armed forces you can use the American Council on Education's (ACE) recommendation to claim Academic Credit for your Military experience and training. Thousands of accredited schools throughout the country accept ACE recommendations for academic credit.

Click here to learn more about how to get the credit you have already earned.


"Credit-By-Exam" gives you the opportunity to earn college-level credits through a program of exams. Over 2,900 colleges grant credit for CLEP (College Level Examination Program), DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests), and ECE (Excelsior College Exam) tests.

Considering an average college course can cost you over $100 per credit, Credit-by-Exam can save you quite a bit. Civilian students pay more than $40 per exam for these tests, but DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) gives you these Credit-by-Exam tests for free. That's a great way to avoid paying for college!

Click here to learn more about taking the CLEP, DSST, and ECE exams.

By applying your ACE credits and CLEP tests you may in fact already have enough credits to have your Associate in Science degree without ever stepping into a college classroom or lecture hall.

There are many other sources of college money including Military Scholarships, Service Specific Grants, ROTC, and the Army/Navy College Funds, but the sources covered here should be enough to get you started on the path to higher education, and greater opportunity!

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