I have heard people complain that the military and military families get a lot of things “for free.” Of course, this is far from true. I am the wife of a junior enlisted Navy sailor. My husband’s take home income is below the National Poverty Average, many of my contemporaries rely on WIC and food stamps just to feed their families, and we must live in government housing in order to ensure that we can afford to put a roof over our heads. Our spouses are serving our country, we’re separated at least a few months every year from one another… is a sacrifice that our spouses and us, as families, do willingly for our country. The members of our military join with promises of benefits, to see the world, to leave their hometowns, adventure, steady income and the promise of funding for their education. But once they have gone through bootcamp, it’s easy to discover that none of the promises recruiters made are without strings attached.
One of the biggest reasons people join the military today is to receive money for a college education. This funding is in the form of Military Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The Military Tuition Assistance promises to pay 100% of tuition costs. However, the fine print is a little bit more revealing. The Army guarantees only $4,500 a fiscal year and most branches will only pay $250 a credit hour. Most state institutions charge more than $250 a credit hour for their tuition, leaving the service member either having to use Federally Insured Financial Aid or having to dig into their G.I. Bill (which would more than likely extend their service contract by at least a few years).
If a member of the active duty military were to go on to the numerous scholarship search engines, their particular branch’s educational website or do a general Google search, they will quickly discover that simply being active duty does not justify scholarships. They have to be a member of a particular group within the branch (e.g. Seabees in the Navy) or they have to have been injured in the War. My children, even I, could receive more scholarship opportunities than my husband.
There should be a federal grant or private scholarship funds for our active duty military to supplement the cost of tuition. Cost of living is enough as it is and our military members should be awarded the opportunities they were promised by their recruiter or the military should stick to their promise of paying 100% tuition. In the civilian world, this would be considered false advertisement. But to the military? Well, apparently, it’s okay to do this to members of our military, who serve to protect our freedoms, perform their duties without question (or the ability to do so), are separated from their loved ones for such long periods and endure more strain and stress than most civilians could understand.