Paying for school using military scholarships is one of the best ways to reduce the prohibitive costs of education. Scholarships are more or less free money and receiving a military scholarship is a precious resume asset. Military scholarships can be service specific, merit-based, and/or circumstance specific. These scholarships exist on the national, state and local levels. Applying for them is grueling but well worth the effort.
There are many organizations both public and private that offer scholarships to potential, active and veteran service members. Many of these same scholarships are also available to the children of the military and veterans. Organizations that offer other services to service members like the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and the Military Benefit Association (MBA) also have scholarships. Furthermore, there are also many service specific scholarships for each section of the military. One of the best things about military scholarships is that the applicant pool is much smaller than with general scholarships such as Pell Grants. Moreover, you can generally apply for civilian scholarships as well, and depending on the scholarship, you can often accept more than one. Using a combination of military educational assistance programs and scholarships you can manage to go to college for free.
Merit-based scholarships are based on performance and they have nothing to do with how much money you or your parents have. Many prospective students are not eligible for financial aid and yet they also can’t afford to pay for school, so merit-based scholarships are every important. The best way to get a merit scholarship is to get good grades and really excel in one area.
Circumstance-related scholarships are the largest pool of scholarships, and unfortunately, many of these go unclaimed every year. They can be based on need or ethnicity but circumstance scholarships can also be very specific. For example, there might be a scholarship for a female African-American flute player who plays for the Army Field Band. If you qualify and apply, you stand a good chance of getting this scholarship.
Lastly, don’t expect your scholarship to cover everything. Apply for other military educational assistance programs as well. You can often cover the costs of your entire education using a combination of these things. Graduating without debt is an equation for a bright future!