5 Ways to Pay for College With Military and Community Service

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

Paying for College: Norfolk State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AROTC) students line up for morning drills.
Norfolk State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AROTC) students.

Military and community service is a great option for students who want to pay for college while serving their country. When their program ends, AmeriCorps members, Peace Corps volunteers, and military veterans can pay off their student loan debt and waive college tuition.

Become An AmeriCorps Member

AmeriCorps is part of a government effort to place volunteers in the agencies, non-profits, and communities that need them the most. AmeriCorps members can serve in struggling schools, disadvantaged neighborhoods, and disaster relief efforts throughout the United States.

Since 1994, AmeriCorps has offered the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to eligible members. With awards ranging from $1,200 to $5,700 (approx.), volunteers who complete an AmeriCorps program can use those funds to pay off student loans and pay for college at eligible schools.

If you are interested in becoming an AmeriCorps member, visit their website to learn about their organization and find the right program for your needs.

Become A Peace Corps Volunteer

The Peace Corps was formed in 1961 to send American volunteers to foreign countries. With government assistance, volunteers work in cities, towns, and villages to support their host country and learn more about other cultures. After a two-year commitment, Peace Corps volunteers receive an $8,000 award and are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

If you want to pay for college by traveling the world, visit PeaceCorps.gov to learn more about their program, host countries, and education benefits.

Apply To The Armed Forces Service Academies

The Armed Forces Service Academies offer students free tuition, room and board, and a salary while they attend school. After they finish their four-year degree, graduates become commissioned officers and go to work in one of the five branches of the military: the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard.

If you dream of serving in the military, visit USA.gov for information on the Armed Forces Service Academies.

Join The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

The Reserve Officer Training Corps (also known as ROTC) allows students to finish their college education while they prepare for military service. In addition to college classes, ROTC students attend drills and training activities throughout the year. After they graduate, ROTC students become commissioned officers in the U.S. military.

In exchange for their service, ROTC students receive federal funds for college and are eligible for student loan forgiveness. If you would like to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps, visit the U.S. Army website for more information.

Use The GI Bill To Pay For College

If you join the military after high school, you may be eligible for the GI Bill once you finish. Veterans who have been honorably discharged after three or more years of service can receive federal funds for college. To honor military veterans, many schools offer the Yellow Ribbon Program to waive college tuition for former service members.

To learn more about the GI Bill/Yellow Ribbon Program, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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