The military has been committed to providing higher education opportunities for servicemembers and veterans since the end of World War II with the passage of the GI Bill®
However, education usually was tied to a classroom and campus setting, limiting freedom for learners. That’s why earning a degree online may be a good fit for servicemembers and veterans today, particularly at a college considered military-friendly.
One of the hallmarks of an online education is that students are free to work on school assignments whenever they are available, whether it be early in the morning, during a lunch break or late in the evening. This is because online students aren’t locked into going to school in a physical location and adhering to rigid class times.
Servicemembers and Veterans Have the Required Discipline
Earning a degree online requires a fair amount of discipline on the part of the student – something servicemembers and veterans have likely acquired during their military service. The military teaches many of the skills that lend themselves to scholarship. Servicemembers are trained to wake up early, take pride in their work and honor their commitments.
Flexibility and Convenience
One major benefit of online education is its flexibility. Students can work at their own pace and not be locked into specific class schedules. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Suzanne Martin says flexibility helped her achieve her degree in Healthcare Administration from New England College: “I wanted to stay in the medical field but needed a degree I could get online; being active-duty military means working full time, plus I have three young children and a husband who works an alternate schedule. So my coursework had to be done at home in my free time.”
Students don’t have to attend classes on campus to earn a degree. They don’t even need to live in the same geographic area as the school. Because classes can be taken when it’s convenient, time zones aren’t an issue. Students can ask professors questions any time of day, either by email or through the school’s learning management system online, as there are no prescribed class times or office hours. Servicemembers are able to continue their studies while they are deployed overseas, or if they receive a permanent change of station order requiring a move. This can also be a boon for veterans whose jobs require them to move.
Online education “… offers a fast-paced program that is perfect for the unpredictability of the Army,” said Staff Sgt. Jamal Roberson, who is pursuing a BA in Business Administration at NEC. “It’s difficult to take traditional-length college courses when your duties could keep you away for weeks at a time. NEC’s seven-week classes fit the military lifestyle much better.”
Military Education Benefits are Available
Servicemembers and veterans can take advantage of educational programs that help decrease the cost of education. One popular program is the GI Bill, which was recently expanded to provide new and enhanced benefits. The program can provide up to 100% tuition coverage and money to cover books and other supplies for up to 36 months.
Previously, veterans had to use their GI Bill benefits within 15 years of discharge; the passage of the Forever GI Bill in August 2017 removed the time limits for some veterans depending on the date of discharge. Now anyone whose discharge date is on or after Jan. 1, 2013, can use the benefits at any time.
Tuition Assistance may be available to active-duty servicemembers through their branch of service. In addition, some schools, including New England College, provide special tuition rates for servicemembers, veterans and their family members, which can defray the cost of earning a degree.
*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.