Paying for College with Military Service
College is expensive— plain and simple. There are tons of ways you can finance your education, from scholarships to student loans. Here’s an option a lot of people don’t think of when deciding how to pay for school: joining the National Guard. The National Guard offers programs for every type of student, whether you’re still in high school, attending college, or working toward a technical certification.
Major Valisa L. Hadley saw the opportunity to fund her college education through military service and went for it. Here’s her experience!
LIFE BEFORE THE GUARD
I played softball in high school, and all I ever wanted was to play ball in college. I got pregnant when I was 17, though, and my priorities shifted. When I moved off to college, it was really
difficult trying to maintain a job, go to school full-time, and take care of a baby. I was working as a manager at McDonald’s when I met my recruiter, and he told me about the Alabama Army National Guard.
JOINING THE GUARD
When I returned from basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), my recruiter saw more potential in me than I saw in myself. He thought I was a really good leader and said the ROTC program at Jacksonville State University would be a great opportunity for me— he was right, and I enjoyed the program.
PAYING FOR COLLEGE
The Alabama National Guard helped fund my education through Federal Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill stipend, and the Alabama National Guard Education Assistance Program (ANGEAP). I also received an ROTC dorm scholarship, which I was able to use towards on-campus living for my daughter and myself. Because of this financial assistance, I was able to graduate
with a double major and commission as an officer. The National Guard provided me with benefits that I will be able to pass on to my daughter for funding her college education as well. It also allowed me the opportunity to spend additional time with my daughter, and it gave me another job in addition to my civilian career.
WHAT I LEARNED
Anyone who is considering joining the Guard should definitely sit down with not only a recruiter but also an education service officer. The National Guard is not the best path for everyone—
you should definitely know all of the options available to you before you make the decision. Make sure that you involve your parents or guardians as well. The Guard is all about supporting
your family, and they should be involved in any decision you make. If you are joining for education benefits, make sure you choose a school that supports military education, because not all schools support the military benefits you receive. Always remember to have fun and enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, then this may not be the career path for you. The difference between a job and a career is whether you enjoy it and are happy with what you are doing!
For more information about funding your education with the National Guard, contact the Guard Support Center at 866-628-5999, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.NATIONALGUARD.com/education