How Military Gets an Education, Despite Cuts to VA and Defense
President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect educational opportunities for active-duty military, veterans and reservists have run squarely into the sequester. Other budget cuts at all levels of government are adding new challenges for military personnel who seek to upgrade their skills.
Cuts to military spending and veterans services are hitting veterans, active-duty military and reservists all in their wallets. As cuts limit daily cash in hand, educational spending can seem like a luxury, not the basic training for civilian life it really is.
Defense Cuts Hit Vets Hard
The vets who fill the Department of Defense are facing 20 percent pay cuts as Defense trims everyone’s work week by a day to meet the sequester’s budget constraints. More than 40 percent of the DoD staff is made up of veterans, some 350,000 in all.
Meanwhile, state and federal budget cuts are raising tuition and reducing scholarship funding at public and private post-secondary schools nationwide. Anyone who has veterans’ retraining funds is a hot commodity. With post-secondary schools scrapping for student dollars, all colleges are military friendly colleges if the military person in question has cash in hand.
Military Retraining Funds Also Hit
But the cuts underway are not just at the state level. Federal grants for job training of military personnel have also been trimmed. That makes it more important than ever to locate a college providing scholarship for veterans and financial assistance to other military personnel.
Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Take On Challenge
The consortium of more than 1,900 Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges was formed in the early 1970s to make it easier for military personnel to finish degrees. At that time, a big concern was enabling service members to complete programs, despite their frequent moves and deployments.
Today, these schools often cater to other needs as well. Many schools in the SOC consortium such as Vista College readily transfer credits among programs. They offer courses both on-campus and on-line, making it as easy as possible for military personnel and dependents to continue their studies wherever they are located.
Scholarships Offered Just for Military
SOC schools typically offer scholarships or discounts of their own for military personnel, veterans and their families, as well as steering them to government programs. Vista College is one example. The school has campuses located near military installations in Texas and New Mexico. It offers tuition discounts for those with military connections as follows:
- Active duty, including Guard and Reserves – 45 percent
- Veterans – 25 percent
- Spouses and other dependents – 17 percent
Whatever challenges the President faces in providing education for military personnel, the schools of the SOC consortium have his back. At a time when he seems to be under attack on almost every front, that must feel good.