A stack of university pennants

What Service Members Should Know When Choosing a College

Thinking about college? You already have the discipline it takes to pursue higher education. From big universities to small colleges, you have plenty of options and each has something unique to offer. Here’s how to compare your college options and find the right institution for your education goals.

Things to consider about college

Look beyond the beautiful lawns and libraries in all those college brochures. You need to balance the cost and logistics of going to school with what you want to accomplish with your degree. There’s a right fit for you and your priorities.

  • Tuition and costs: While most schools offer tuition assistance to service members, certain institutions can be more affordable, like in-state or public universities. Private schools can sometimes be costly. To reduce the amount of debt you graduate with, research each school’s tuition and financial aid offerings carefully.
  • Courses and programs: Some schools specialize in certain areas of study, such as engineering or nursing. If you have a specific area of focus that you want to pursue, narrow down your choices to schools with those programs. If you’re considering graduate school or a higher professional degree, look into which schools offer those specific fields of study to help you make the next transition to graduate school.
  • Location: If you’re looking to live on or near the school’s campus, you’ll need to prepare for a relocation and an exciting transition into campus life. Choosing a nearby state school or local private college, however, allows you to stay in your current location and even commute from home to class. That could save you some money in room and board, or allow you to continue working.
  • Campus feel: College life can be so much more than classes. If you’re interested in playing sports, a dynamic social experience, or the opportunity to work or intern during your time there, consider the school’s reputation and offerings beyond the classroom. It can be completely immersive or simply part-time; it’s up to you.

How to choose

Once you know what your college goals are, these tools can help you find the right fit for your needs.

  • The College Navigator lets you search through over 7,000 schools. Compare location, tuition, courses and financial aid information for universities and colleges nationwide. You can even save your searches to a spreadsheet to revisit and revise your list.
  • The Department of Defense’s Tuition Assistance program provides information on tuition costs at over 2,600 schools that are eligible to receive military tuition assistance. Compare costs, fees, grants, GI Bill®, and other financial aid opportunities.
  • Search the Department of Defense’s Voluntary Education Memorandum of Understanding site to see which schools are participating in the federal tuition assistance program.

There are so many resources for service members to find the right university at the right cost, no matter where you live or what you hope to study. Military OneSource is here to help you start the next chapter. Call 800-342-9647 anytime to schedule a specialty consultation with one of our education professionals. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.