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The U.S. Military always run ads offering to pay for college and teaching career skills to recruits, so do they really do this or is it a recruitment ploy?

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It’s not a ploy. I took advantage of almost all of the Army’s education/training incentives.

Here are some things I took advantage of:

  1. During my MOS (military job) training, I received some college credits at a small university for some random degree that would never be worth it. But hey, at least it was credits towards a degree.
  2. Tuition Assistance. While you’re actually on Active Duty, you can request TA to pay for college that you can do part time. I chose to do a couple electrical engineering classes online through Arizona State University, and the Army paid for all of it.
  3. The GI Bill. When I got out of the Army, I enrolled in a local community college for a semester, and it was 100% paid for. Had I continued college almost anywhere, it would’ve been paid for completely. You also get a Basic Housing Allowance (if I remember correctly), which is basically a salary. In other words, you get paid to go to college after you’re out of the Army. This is, of course, dependent on if you get an honorable discharge.

Yes, these are all actual things. And yes, they’re all free. If college is your thing, joining the Army is a good way to get it. Just know that if you join the Army, you’ll experience a lot of negative things to balance it all out. So choose carefully.