Is It Worth Going Dual Military to Pay for School?

Married Air Force Chief Master Sgts. Brian and Shannon Thomas. (U.S. Air Force/Melody Wolff)
Married Air Force Chief Master Sgts. Brian and Shannon Thomas. (U.S. Air Force/Melody Wolff)

I want to join the Navy. My husband is an active-duty E-6 and he supports my decision, but we have two kids.

The reason why I want to join is because I want to continue my education without worrying about loans and money. I don't want to have to be away from my kids, but it seems like I don't have many choices.

I can't find a job after almost four years of being a stay-at-home mom, and we can't afford college because we have just one income.

Is going dual military worth it?

Paying for school is expensive and frustrating, but I think there are better options for you than going dual military just for the tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits.

Consider this: If you do become dual military, you're far from guaranteed co-location with your husband. That means one of you will have to be essentially a single parent in addition to being active-duty Navy.

You'll be required to have a family care plan, which means long daycare hours for your kids or having them live away from you. Also, the Navy is unlikely to approve your tuition assistance request for at least a year, meaning that if you want to serve four years just for the education benefit, you won't even get to take advantage of it the whole time.

So what are some other options? Federal student aid and state aid may help, depending on your location. If your spouse is an E-6, he has probably been in the service long enough to qualify to transfer you his GI Bill. Although he would incur an additional service obligation by doing so, you could start using the benefit immediately and it would cover most, if not all, of your tuition costs, depending on the school.

Another option is to apply for other scholarships. Your on-base spouse club, for example, likely offers an annual scholarship, as do many other organizations. You can find information on those here.

There are plenty of great reasons to join the military, but doing so just for the education benefits may not be your best bet.

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