The Air National Guard (ANG) offers numerous benefits for joining. These incentives are even greater for someone who in enrolled in college. With the current state of the U.S. economy and the great financial strain on the parents of prospective college students, the need has never been greater for high school graduates to obtain their own financial support required to successfully complete an undergraduate degree program.
Obtaining funds for college can be both frustrating and challenging if not impossible. Free federal student aid is often difficult to qualify for, personal loans may be an option if the individual seeking the loan has great credit or a cosigner, and student loans may be available but borrowing any educational funds can often burden a college grad for many years to come.
If you have ever considered a career in the military the ANG offers a perfect opportunity to try it part-time while attending college. An enlistment of 6 years can be a great chance to test the waters and see if the military is a good fit. This is often the only time in one’s life to make this type of commitment before starting a family and being too tied down to commit to a responsibility of this magnitude.
Additionally, this can also move a college grad far ahead of the curve when it comes time to obtain employment in the civilian sector. Throughout the course of the enlistment contract, a college grad can gain leadership experience, valuable job specific experience, have the opportunity to work in large groups to accomplish the same goal, and become a responsible and well rounded individual. This will put the new college grad at a great advantage over those with little to no real word experience.
There is often a great deal of uncertainty in an individual that is trying to choose a career path that will be both successful and rewarding. The military can provide a solid foundation to help begin this process. It is important to understand that choosing this path is certainly going to be both challenging and personally gratifying. It is also important to understand exactly what benefits are available, how they can be made to work in one’s favor, and fully understanding what is expected in order to receive any of the benefits listed below.
1. Have your tuition paid.
The ANG will pay your tuition each semester that you are enrolled in college up to your first Bachelors degree. To maximize this benefit, full-time enrollment is recommended.
2. Receive tax free money from the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
While attending college, the student/guard member will receive tax free money (usually around $650/month). These funds are deposited into the service members account for up to 36 months while attending classes.
3. Earn a regular pay check.
The guard member is paid for any and all training performed while in the military. This training includes Basic Military Training (BMT), Technical School Training for a chosen career field, attending drills one weekend per month, as well as deploying 2 weeks per year.
4. Have your student loans repaid.
Existing student loans up to $20,000 can be repaid with this incentive. With the help of this benefit, a new college grad can complete a degree and graduate with little to no debt.
5. Receive a sign on bonus.
This is an incentive that is offered for various career fields in the ANG and is typically received after the initial training is completed and is distributed annually to the guard member during the course of the enlistment contract.
6. Gain valuable training and experience.
Upon completion of Basic Military Training, the next phase is technical training for the desired career field. If the military career is chosen to compliment the college major, civilian employers will value this very highly and can give a new graduate a great advantage.
7. Obtain a government security clearance.
This benefit can provide a new graduate a great edge in the civilian work force. Certain jobs require this type of clearance to access classified information. New employment prospects that already posses this will be valued over a candidate that does not.
8. Full-time employment in the ANG.
If the traditional (part-time) guardsmen proves that that are an asset and or have the required background and skill-set, full-time job opportunities may be available at any of the many military installations throughout the country. Global opportunities may be available as well.
9. Receive tax benefits.
If an airman is assigned to a combat zone for 180 days, they may be qualified for a discount on the property taxes of their primary residence. This is a lifetime benefit and can add up to a great deal of savings over the years.
10. Free health care benefits.
While in the military, the member receives many vaccinations, annual flu shots, and various treatments based on their job requirements and duty location. These benefits are provided at no cost to the member.
11. Access to Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans.
These loans are available to service members based on their length of service. The (VA) guarantees a portion of the loan, which allows banks to provide the service member with more favorable terms such as lower interest rates and reduced closing costs.
12. Enrollment in the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF).
When an ANG member completes Basic Military Training and Technical School, college credits are earned through the (CCAF). Upon completion of a student’s graduation from a civilian college degree program, the credits earned there can be transferred to the CCAF and combined with the existing credits earned to receive an A.A.S degree in the student’s field of study. This is an easy way to obtain 2 college degrees at the same time!
As you can imagine, college is a very expensive endeavor and locating the financial backing to accomplish an undergraduate degree can be very difficult. This difficult task can be made easier with the help of the Air National Guard and the many incentives that are available to an individual that is willing to take the plunge. The financial benefits are only a small portion of what can be gained from the military. Are you up for the challenge?