The Reserve sees to it that new enlistees begin to leverage the Army’s educational benefits before they even don a uniform
(ARA) - In a tightened economy, states are faced with cuts to higher education, and tuition is on the rise in all 50 states. At the same time, having a postsecondary degree and credentialed job skills is ever more important to finding a job. Within this framework, the Army Reserve has found itself playing a greater role in educating soldiers who also comprise an important part of America’s civilian workforce.
The Reserve sees to it that new enlistees begin to leverage the Army’s educational benefits before they even don a uniform. Through a partnership with more than 1,950 colleges and universities, the Concurrent Admissions Program helps future Reserve members - at their time of enlistment - create a plan to attend college and obtain a higher education.
As of July 2009, more than 179,000 Army soldiers had signed a “college referral and intent to enroll” form to pursue a college degree. Reserve members are eligible for the program on enlistment.
The military training that most soldiers receive also can play a substantial role in advancing a civilian education. Reserve members actually earn academic credit as they serve. That’s because approximately 94 percent of the Army’s Military Occupational Specialties match civilian jobs that are subject to licensure and certification - and 93 percent of enlisted soldiers serve in these specialties.
To take advantage of that overlap, the American Council on Education works with the Army to translate that military training into academic credits which soldiers can apply toward a college education.
Members of Selected Army Reserve also have access to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). In fiscal 2011, qualified members are eligible for up to $12,132 over 36 months to cover educational expenses. Soldiers assigned to critical skill positions or critical units may be eligible for even more - an additional payment of up to $24,732 over 36 months.
Additionally, the Reserve offers tuition assistance - up to $4,500 per academic year - to qualified members of the selected Reserve to cover the cost of approved courses. In fiscal year 2008, the Army spent more than $215 million on soldiers attending classes.
Once a soldier has obtained a higher education, the Reserve’s Loan Repayment Program helps eligible members pay back as much as $10,000 for qualifying loans - including Stafford, Perkins and other common types of student loans. Soldiers in certain specialties may qualify for repayment benefits of up to $50,000.
The Army Reserve works hard to reinforce its ranks with the best and brightest, and is dedicated to engaging top-notch individuals from a broad cross-section of America. That’s why its career paths are as flexible as the Army Reserve itself - with options designed to suit the varied needs and goals of everyone from high school or college students to active-duty soldiers to current Reserve members.
For high school grads, many Reserve units offer an Education Career Stabilization program, which defers soldiers from mobilization and deployment to provide them with an uninterrupted path to a college degree. Depending on a student’s individual requirements, ECS students can tap into many of the college benefits detailed above.
College-bound Reserve members, for their part, also have access to scholarships for the venerable Army ROTC program, which provides instruction on management and problem-solving while training to become an officer. In 2008, the Army endowed approximately $283 million in college scholarships to more than 16,600 ROTC cadets.
Every day, these educational opportunities help provide the foundation for soldiers’ successful military - and civilian - careers. These programs have helped the Army Reserve to fill its ranks with highly educated experts in transportation, logistics, supply chain management, law enforcement, public safety, health care, telecommunications, information technology, engineering, civil affairs, finance, legal services and human resources, to name a few.
Members of the Reserve never stop learning. Throughout their careers, soldiers continue to sharpen their abilities through ongoing tactical, technical, physical and leadership development training.
All of these educational opportunities help ensure that the Army Reserve remains an essential and integral component of the overall Army - a fully functional, combat-ready organization prepared to face challenges at a moment’s notice. More than ever, this mission requires the right people with the right skills.
The Army Reserve is a force of professional men and women who possess the skills and training to serve America twice - as world-class soldiers, and as top-flight employees in the civilian workplace.