Workers with only high school-level education had an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, while those with a bachelor’s degree had an unemployment rate of just 4.9 percent, according to a 2011 Forbes study.
With such figures, it has never been more important to further one’s education.
To help, Luke Air Force Base has an education center located on the third floor of Bldg. 1150, filled with staff willing and able to assist military personnel with their educational needs.
“We help people in a variety of educational levels, from achieving their Community College of the Air Force associate degree to working on their bachelor’s or master’s degree,” said Sandy Cooper, 56th Force Support Squadron guidance counselor. “We also assist Airmen in understanding tuition assistance and how they can take advantage of the funds in the most efficient manner so they won’t pay too much out-of-pocket. We also help them choose a school that best fits their learning goals.”
The counselors help military members apply for federal aid and scholarships and schedule professional military education tests. They also educate service members on commissioning opportunities, said Jennifer Reyes, 56th FSS counselor intern.
There are a few things first-term Airmen should consider prior to signing up for classes.
“Before being able to enroll, Airmen need to have their career development courses done,” Cooper said. “Then they come in for an initial brief covering TA, College Level Examination Programs and other programs, and talk about what they want to achieve education-wise.”
There are also online school options available to Airmen who work swing or night shifts, Reyes said. Although the counselors are here to guide Airmen in their educational goals, they go beyond that to see what works for each person, depending on their personal situation.
“We sometimes have to ask probing questions to see what each Airman’s situation is,” Reyes said. “This will help us present the best options for them. For example, having dependents can make a difference when filing for federal aid.”
There are several schools on base to serve Luke personnel including Park University, Webster University, Wayland Baptist University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Rio Salado Community College.
There are also a variety of online schools that meet the needs of students. A list can be found at the education center. Education center counselors say it is never too late for a person to enroll in school no matter the rank or age.
“Our mission is to ensure all Airmen are informed of educational opportunities and available financial assistance while serving on active duty as well as when transitioning to civilian life,” Cooper said. “Pursuing your education is important because it will open more doors and opportunities for you.”
The education center’s walk-in hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment, call 623-856-7722.