On more than one occasion, a military service member or veteran has asked me why they should go to college. My response has basically been the same over my 11 years of working with military-connected students and highlights these main points. I would always discuss with them:
- ...the value of earning a degree and what it means to their future earning potential.
- ...the need for lifelong learning and how a college education will help to broaden their perspective on life.
- ...that a degree will allow them to be more competitive in the civilian workforce when applying for their first civilian job.
Then it occurred to me, there is a different, even more compelling, reason why they should go to college.
Why should you go to college after you leave the service? Here’s why: We, the people of the United States, are investing in you, the military veteran! That’s right, your military educational benefits, GI Bill benefits, Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, whatever you want to call them, are actually an investment into your future — and it is a sizable investment.
Consider, if you will, the Post 9/11 GI Bill Educational Benefit. This educational benefit program funds a veteran's college education for 36 months (this equates to four years, at nine months per year in a traditional two semester academic year). The type of college to which a veteran transitions will determine the total value of the investment.
Let’s explore how this could look in a real-world scenario. Consider a veteran making the transition to a private, nonprofit institution in the Northeast that is eligible to receive 100 percent of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and the college they are attending is also a full partner in the Yellow Ribbon Program of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This particular veteran in transition would receive approximately $167,922 as an investment into their future. That's right, $167,922! That is some investment. The amount they receive is a combination veteran educational benefits paid directly to the institution in the form of tuition and fees, plus a monthly housing allowance and book stipend paid directly to the veteran during the actual months they are enrolled in classes.
If you consider that the average college graduate in 2016 has $37,132 in student loan debt, the investment military students receive in the form of the Post 9/11 GI Bill Educational Benefit may allow them to have little or no student loan debt (depending on the college and program they study). Plus, factor in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing a college graduate earns more than two times more than someone with only a high school diploma, then the answer to the question why you should go to college becomes quite clear.
The challenge for the transitioning military veteran is finding the right school and the right program to study.
Explore our online degree programs, or fill out the "Request Info" form on this page to learn about the Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education and making the most of your military benefits.