The late Tom Clancy, a famed thriller novelist, once was asked his opinion on the educational opportunities provided to our troops. His response: “The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them because they’re protecting us”. No matter your opinion on individual military matters, no one can deny that we as American citizens owe the brave men and women who choose to fight for their country a debt that we can never fully repay.
Many prominent leaders throughout our country’s history began their careers in military academies, eventually leading them to the battlefields, the floor of the Senate, or even the White House. While it may be up to those in uniform to protect our future, it is unquestionably one of our largest obligations as a civilian community to help them fulfill their personal dreams. To that end, gracious organizations and funds provide opportunities for our troops to get a complete education, either before or after they enlist. Here are just a few scholarships provided to our military servicemen:
President FDR’s 1944 “GI Bill” instituted multiple benefits for servicemen returning from the largest and most brutal war ever fought. We can still feel the GI Bill’s effects today through this program, which specifically targets the US Army, although a sister program exists for the Navy. However, people widely consider the Army Loan Repayment Program the more lucrative of the two due to the program’s high possible financial dividends.
To be eligible, one must, among other things, be enlisted for Active Duty in the Army, have a high school diploma, be qualified for student loans, and score above a 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), a basic aptitude test all military personnel takes before enlisting. In return, the Loan Repayment Program promises to “repay 15 percent of the outstanding principal balance, less taxes of the Soldier’s student loans annually or $1,500, whichever is greater, after each year of service.”
Deadline: January 14, 2020
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program that joins military training and undergraduate education, preparing their students for the military while also giving them a classic college experience. Scholarships often give preference to those in the ROTC, and some scholarships even give dedications. In the Air Force ROTC Scholarship program, students enrolled in the program can potentially have their tuition, lab costs, and textbooks covered, and even receive $500 in pocket money each month. In return, students must commit to serve at least four years as an active duty Air Force officer.
Considered one of the most valiant decorations a US service member can receive, the Purple Heart symbolizes their dedication to their country and their willingness to sacrifice their personal safety. Those wounded receive the award, as well as those killed in action in the name of the United States posthumously. Famous recipients include Secretary of State John Kerry (Vietnam War), President John F. Kennedy (World War II) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ, Vietnam War). To reward those who put their lives on the line for their country, the Purple Heart Scholarship Fund offers the award recipients a chance for a $5,000 scholarship to go towards higher education.
Applicants must write a short essay describing their military experience and, subsequently, their goals for the future. The program chooses one winner each year by the spring, providing a chance for the future to someone who may have once wondered if they would survive their heroic military experience.
Deadline: March 1
According to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, 2016 will be the first year where women are eligible for all roles in US military, nearly one hundred years after the first woman enlisted to fight in World War I. Women have always played a key role in our military, but only recently have they been seen as equal to men in the eyes of those in charge. In order to help combat this situation and encourage young women to serve in the military if they wish, programs like the Women’s Overseas Service League (WOSL) offer additional incentives to service. The WOSL offers young women “committed to advancement in the military or other public service careers” an opportunity for a financial break in their college education, whenever they may complete it.
The League requires that applicants have been admitted to a college, demonstrate a commitment to their military or public service job, and include their resume and military documentation. The prizes range from $500-$1000 and winners can renew it as long as they meet certain academic standards.
Deadline: March 15
Devoted to helping those who help others, the Combat Medic Service Scholarship offers a financial reward to former service members awarded the Combat Medic Badge. Also known as the CMB, soldiers who performed medical duties on the front lines of battle, as well as participated in active combat, receive this decoration. As everyone knows, it is often difficult for those who have seen combat to adjust to civilian life and environments, including college campuses. This problem, in part, led to the founding of this crowd-funded scholarship.
With a maximum award of $5,000, the application asks those interested to write a short essay outlining their experience as a military medic and what they will do in the future to assist those in need, continuing the values of valor and integrity they exhibited through their service time.
Named in honor of Major General George H. Olmsted, a US military icon, this award is often considered as the most prestigious scholarship offered to members of the military community. A legendary figure of the Military Academy in West Point, Olmsted and his wife Carol established the program in 1959 to reward the hard work of outstanding students-slash-officers. The program, exclusive and old-fashioned, does not offer an online application. Interested officers must campaign for a nomination by their personnel HQ, which screens several applicants to find the officer to nominate.
There are strict eligibility requirements, including 3-11 years of active service, currently on active duty, serving in an operational capacity, as well as demonstrating professionalism. The scholarship’s reward? Full tuition and board to pursue graduate study abroad for up three years, concentrating on a foreign language.
We thank the brave men and women of the armed forces for their dedication and service.