MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. — The education offices aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island now offer a Pay for College class to teach Marines and their dependents how to pay for college without the aid of Tuition Assistance, or TA.
“Many Marines were surprised when the Marine Corps began suspending TA programs,” said Karla Cortes, an education services specialist with the education office aboard MCAS Beaufort. “There were stories of Marines that wanted to further their education and others that were just a few credits short of attaining their degrees that decided to give up in fear of accruing large amounts of debt without assistance from the program.
“In response to this trend we wanted to bust the myths that many Marines had concerning TA and prove to them that there are other ways they can attend school without draining their bank accounts.”
The course is given by the education offices aboard the Air Station and Parris Island monthly and teaches Marines smarter ways to pay for college, so they can get the most for their money. At the course, Marines start from the very beginning of the college research and application process. They learn about college accreditations and how to find accredited schools that will provide them with the best fit for their budget and personal needs.
“Many Marines, before coming to the education office, just go by word of mouth when it comes to selecting a school,” Cortes said. “It is important for them to find a well accredited school that provides them with a quality education. This will better direct them toward a degree that resembles something more than a piece of paper worth thousands of dollars.”
After the Marines learn which colleges are geared more toward their needs, Cortes shows the students that TA is not their only financial aid resource. The Marines learn how to apply for federal financial aid, grants, scholarships and, if necessary, loans.
“When I sit down with Marines and dependents, their jaws drop when I show them how much money they could receive from grants, financial aid and scholarships,” Cortes said. “Many even learn that they could receive more money through these avenues then they would have with TA. Paying for college is like buying a car, the more work and research you do the greater your chances are at finding a better deal.”