WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense Department officials encourage parents and students to consider various strategies for financing college education, the director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy and children and youth said.
In a recent interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Barbara Thompson addressed solutions to some of the obstacles military children might face when trying to pursue a college education.
Thompson recommended researching scholarship and student aid opportunities early on, including use of the provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows service members to transfer their benefit to family members.
Resources such as the Military OneSource website and personal financial managers on installations, she added, offer information ideas on other resources, such as a tax-deferred savings account for higher learning colleges and vocational schools.
Military OneSource also features scholarship information links and listings, including law and policy updates that pertain to military members and their families, such as expanded in-state tuition availability. Service members on active duty for more than 30 days are eligible to receive in-state tuition for their dependent children at public colleges and universities in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed, she noted.
Once enrolled and paying in-state tuition, Thompson said, dependent children continue to pay the in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled at the institution, even if the service member is reassigned outside the state.
“That has been a very positive move across the federal government that all states have to offer in-state tuition for military children and spouses,” she said.
But no matter where the prospective student lives, Thompson explained, it’s important for parents to work with school guidance counselors to nurture their future college student’s interests and aspirations — and ultimately to choose the right educational path.
“You don’t want to go to a school and find out later on they don’t offer the degree you’re interested in,” Thompson said. “You have to do your research.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website offers a “Know Before You Owe” page to help untangle student loan procedures, regulations and facts to keep borrowers informed and arm them with information prior to making life-altering decisions, Thompson said.
“We want the best future for our children,” she added. “We recognize they’ve sacrificed a great deal over the lifespan of their parents serving the military, … and we want to make sure they’re ready for the world when they become an adult.”