There are many benefits, monetary and otherwise, to joining the military after college. College graduates are eligible to become officers through an officer training program, meaning that they will start at a higher pay grade and may have more training opportunities. College graduates may also be eligible for student loan repayment or scholarships if they commit to serving in the military before graduation.
College graduates with a bachelor's degree in any field are eligible to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Training School (OTS), depending on which branch of the military they wish to enter. If you have no prior military training or experience, you may have to attend basic training as well. Upon graduation from OTS or OCS, the newly commissioned officer will be assigned the rank of O-1, with the specific title varying among the different branches. Thereafter, he or she is on the officer track and may be promoted up to O-10, though promotions may be much more competitive after the first few, warns the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Military personnel on the officer track may be able to take advantage of more training, which may help in transitioning to a civilian career.
Student Loan Repayment Options
If a student decides that he wants to join the military after graduation from high school but before graduation from college, he may be eligible for a Reserve Officers Training Corp Program (ROTC). ROTC programs provide full-tuition scholarships, as well as separate allowances for books and supplies and a stipend of up to $5,000 annually. The service commitment time period after college varies, depending on the branch. If a student decides to join the military after she has graduated from college, the military may pay back any student loans up to a certain monetary limit, which varies from branch to branch.
Because college graduates may enlist as an officer (after completing OCS), they begin at a higher pay grade than enlistees with a high school diploma. As of 2010, the base pay for a newly minted officer with less than two years of experience in the military was $31,863; for an enlistee with a high school diploma and less than two years of experience, the pay was $16,794, a difference of more than $15,000. College graduates are also eligible for more hazard pay, living allowances, allowances for dependents and spouses, and other monetary benefits than those who enlisted with a high school diploma.
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