Can You Attend University While on Active Duty?

Pursuing a university degree while on active duty has become an increasingly popular choice for many service members. Despite the demanding nature of military service, individuals recognize the importance of higher education in their personal and professional development.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of pursuing a university degree while on active duty and provide a clear answer to the question:

Can You Attend University While on Active Duty?

The answer is a resounding “yes,” and we will delve into why it is a worthwhile endeavor for active-duty military personnel.

Benefits of Pursuing a University Degree While on Active Duty

Pursuing a university degree while on active duty in the military offers several advantages and long-term benefits. Here are some of the key benefits:

Faster Career Advancement

Taking courses related to your military occupational specialty (MOS) can enhance your skills and make you a more desirable candidate for promotion within your specialty area. Additionally, the military awards promotion points for each college credit earned, which can help you rank up faster and advance in your military career.

Officer Opportunities

Pursuing a university degree is often a requirement if you aspire to become an officer. Enrolling in an officer training program typically requires a four-year degree, regardless of your initial career path in the military. Obtaining a degree while serving can open doors to officer positions and expand your career options.

Transition to Civilian Life

Earning a degree while serving gives you a head start when transitioning to civilian life. It helps bridge the gap between military service and civilian careers, ensuring that you do not have to start from scratch. Having a degree can make you more competitive in the job market and provide a smoother transition into civilian employment.

Increased Career Opportunities

Many job openings and career paths require a degree or some college education. Pursuing a university degree while on active duty positions you for a wider range of career opportunities.

Tuition Assistance and Education Benefits

The military provides several education benefits, such as Tuition Assistance (TA) and the GI Bill®, to support active-duty service members in pursuing higher education. Military Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses of its members, making education more affordable. The GI Bill® offers various programs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, Montgomery GI Bill®, and others, which provide financial assistance for education.

What is the Value of Education for Personal and Professional Development?

Education holds immense value for personal and professional development, especially if you are in the military. Here are some key reasons why education is valuable:

Expanded Knowledge and Skills

Pursuing a university degree exposes you to a broad range of subjects and deepens your knowledge in specific areas. It equips you with valuable skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and research abilities, transferable to various professional settings.

Enhanced Career Prospects

Higher education significantly improves your job prospects and increases your marketability. Many employers prefer candidates with a degree due to the advanced knowledge and skills acquired through higher education. A university degree can open doors to higher-level positions and provide a competitive edge in the job market.

Personal Growth and Self-Confidence

Education fosters personal growth by expanding your horizons, exposing you to new ideas, and challenging your beliefs. It helps you develop a sense of self-confidence, independence, and intellectual maturity. Through education, you gain a deeper understanding of the world and your place in it.

Networking Opportunities

University education offers valuable networking opportunities. Interacting with fellow students, professors, and professionals in your field can help you build connections and relationships that can benefit you both personally and professionally. Networking can lead to future mentorships, job opportunities, and collaborations.

Lifelong learning

Education is not limited to a specific timeframe but is a lifelong pursuit. The skills and knowledge acquired during your university education can serve as a foundation for continuous learning and personal growth throughout your life. Lifelong learning is essential in adapting to changing industries, acquiring new skills, and staying intellectually engaged.

By pursuing a university degree while on active duty, you can harness the benefits of education in terms of personal development and long-term career prospects.

What to Look for in a Military-Friendly University

There are several key factors to consider when looking for a military-friendly university. These factors cater to the needs of active-duty military personnel and provide a supportive environment for their educational journey.

Here are the key factors to look for when selecting a military-friendly university:

Military Educational Benefits and Tuition Assistance

It is important to choose a university that offers support and resources for military students, such as tuition assistance programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill® and the Montgomery GI Bill®. These programs can help offset the costs of education for active-duty military personnel.

Fast-Paced Programs that Accommodate Military Schedules

Military personnel often have unique scheduling requirements due to their service obligations. Look for universities that offer flexible learning formats, including online and hybrid programs, which allow for asynchronous learning and self-paced coursework.

Year-Round Classes for Quicker Completion

Universities that offer year-round classes enable military students to complete their degree programs quicker. This particularly benefits those with time constraints or deployments, allowing military students to maintain momentum in their education.

Hands-on Training Opportunities

Look for universities that provide practical and hands-on training opportunities. This can be especially valuable for military students who seek to gain real-world skills that are immediately applicable to their careers.

Class Availability

Military personnel may have irregular schedules, so universities that offer day, evening, hybrid, and online classes provide greater flexibility for course selection and attendance.

Acceptance of Transfer Credits

If you have prior college credits or military training, ensure that the university you choose accepts transfer credits. This can help you accelerate your degree completion and avoid retaking courses you have already completed.

Opportunity for Career Advancement

Consider universities that offer resources and support for career advancement, such as career services, networking opportunities, and job placement assistance. This can be crucial for military personnel transitioning to civilian careers.

Diverse Degree Program Options

Look for universities offering various degree programs to cater to your interests and career goals. Whether you are interested in healthcare, business, IT, criminal justice, or other fields, having diverse degree program options allows you to choose a program aligned with your aspirations.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and select a military-friendly university that meets your needs as an active-duty military member.

Tuition Assistance Programs Available to Active-Duty Military Personnel

The Department of Defense (DoD) provides Tuition Assistance (TA) programs to support the educational goals of active-duty military personnel. Each service branch has its specific policies and procedures regarding eligibility criteria and management of TA funds.

Generally, active-duty service members can receive Tuition Assistance at a rate of up to $250 per semester hour, with an annual ceiling of $4,500. The courses must be part of an approved academic degree or certificate program and offered by schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which are signatories to the current DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (DOD MOU).

Post 9/11 GI Bill®

The Post 9/11 GI Bill® provides financial support to individuals who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. It covers tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for books and supplies. The benefit depends on the length of service and the location of the educational institution.

Montgomery GI Bill®-Active Duty

The Montgomery GI Bill®-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) provides financial assistance to active-duty members who contribute $100 per month for 12 months and are honorably discharged. The benefit can be used for various education and training programs, including college degrees, vocational training, and correspondence courses.

Montgomery GI Bill®-Selected Reserve

The Montgomery GI Bill®-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) is available to members of the Selected Reserve, including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve. Eligible reservists must have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve, complete initial active-duty training, and actively participate in required drilling and training.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a supplementary funding option for education that helps cover tuition and fees not already covered by other Veteran Affairs (VA) education benefits. It is available to veterans, active-duty service members, and their eligible dependents. Participating institutions enter into an agreement with the VA to provide additional funds, which VA matches.

Tuition Assistance Top-Up

Tuition Assistance Top-Up is an option for veterans and service members who need additional financial assistance beyond the amount provided by the military’s Tuition Assistance program. It allows service members to use their GI Bill® benefits to cover the remaining tuition and fees for high-cost courses.

Final Thoughts

Pursuing a university degree while on active duty is a remarkable personal and professional growth opportunity. The support available, including tuition assistance programs and the GI Bill®, combined with the flexibility of online education, make it more achievable than ever before. Embrace higher education’s possibilities and take the first step towards achieving your educational goals. Remember, investing in yourself through education is an investment that will yield lifelong benefits.

Want to Learn More?

Florida National University proudly supports the brave men and women (both past and present) of all U.S. Military Branches and their families. We honor their dedication and sacrifices in serving this great nation. Florida National University shows its appreciation by offering preferred tuition to people serving in Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves, Veterans, and their Spouses.

If you are interested in a degree or diploma program, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our Military Friendly programs.