Pros and Cons of Joining the Military to Pay for College

Thursday, December 15, 2016, AM | Leave Comment

Deciding how you are going to finance college tuition is a major decision, especially in the case of medical school of law school, which could put you hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Taking on student loan debt can be risky, and that is one reason many prospective students consider joining the military to finance college.

If you are a soon-to-be college student and are considering taking the military route, here is a look at the pros and cons of joining the military to pay for college.

Pros and Cons of Joining the Military to Pay for College

Military Education.


  • Pro: You’ll graduate debt free

    Of course, the biggest pro here is the fact that you’ll graduate from college without student loans hanging over your head.

    The military G.I. Bill can offer over $40,000 for a college education, and you could even receiving funding for books and housing.

    There are a variety of programs you can apply for, including the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Montgomery G.I. Bill for Active Duty or Selected Reserve, and the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP).

  • Con: You may not owe money, but you do owe time

    You may not owe money upon graduation, but keep in mind that you will be indebted in a different way: by owing time.

    If you join the U.S. Air Force and receive funding for four years of medical school, for example, you will owe four years of active duty in the Air Force upon graduation.

    You may very well spend those four years working as a physician on a U.S. Air Force base, but it could mean being deployed (especially if you work in a high-demand specialty such as emergency medicine.)

    You may very well not have much say about where you will be sent or what work you will be asked to do in order to fulfill your contract.

  • Pro: There are additional perks

    Financial aid for education isn’t the only perk to enlisting in the military.

    This article, for example, discusses some debt forgiveness programs that the military offers.

    Other perks to joining the military include the enlistment bonus, health and dental care for you and your family, tax-free housing, food allowances, special deals on home loans, and pension. Don’t forget about the many military discounts that retailers offer as well.

  • Con: Navigating the system can be difficult

    Many people have a remarkably difficult time navigating the process. From the time you decide to enlist to when you actually receive financial aid from the military, you will have to fill out all kinds of paperwork and complete a variety of required medical examinations.

    You might find that recruiters are slow to get back to you and make you jump through a number of hoops. Sometimes the recruitment process can become nearly impossible to navigate.

    You might, for example, have health insurance in a particular area and use it to complete all of your necessary medical examinations before leaving town for college.

    You assume that you have wrapped things up and expect to receive your financial aid shortly after arriving at school.

    Soon after arriving at school, however, you come to find out that you need to complete one more medical exam.

    This would have been no big deal back at home, but once at school you no longer have access to in-network healthcare.

    Now you might have to purchase your school’s healthcare plan in order to complete that one medical examination.

    This is only an example, and you may not have this type of difficulty navigating the system. But for many people, this type of thing really happens. If you know someone who has successfully enlisted in the military and received financial aid, ask them about what their recruitment process was like.

  • Pro: You’ll be serving your country

    Of course, in addition to getting money for college tuition, you’ll also be serving your country. That in itself is something to take pride in, and for many people it is the primary reason they enlist in the military in the first place.

  • Con: You could be deployed abroad

    For many people, the prospect of getting deployed means valuable time away from family. It could even mean being put in danger (and possibly experiencing physical or emotional damage).

    In many situations there are ways to serve in the military right from a military base somewhere within the United States.

    Military doctors who work in specialties that are not in high demand abroad (urology, for example) often complete their service on a base in the U.S.

    But in many more situations, deployment abroad to fulfill a contract of service is a reality to expect.

Author BIO

This article is written By: Maurine Anderson.

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