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The High Cost of Education? How one student did it with the GI Bill

Today I want to introduce you to one of my students: Patrick S.  As you will read below, Pat came to Salisbury University as part of the GI bill, and took a number of courses with me.  I love having students from the military: they are bright, respectful, and hard working.  Pat was also one of the best cartographers I’ve met, and we actually hired him to create all the maps and graphics for my book.  You will see from Pat’s story that he made the most of his military experience and was able to take advantage of the benefits of the GI Bill.  What I particularly like is that Pat laid out the details for how he got it done.  I plan to have other former students tell their stories as well.

My Experience on the Costs of College While Utilizing the Post 911 G.I. Bill

Hello, my name is Patrick and I am a veteran who recently finished exhausting my Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits while attending undergraduate and graduate school at two different state universities. While the cost of college has exorbitantly increased since I first graduated high school back in the mid-1990s, the options that many students still have today to mitigate those costs are very lucrative. One of these options is military service and the subsequent Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits which can alleviate most, if not all of the associated tuition costs, book fees, and living expenses one arduously faces while attending college. If one plans correctly and lives conservatively, they can serve four years in the military and finish a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree after their military service without even having to juggle a part-time job in the process. This can afford much more needed time for studying and other college obligations. This was the case during my experience utilizing the Post-911 G.I. Bill for the last four years.

I began on my college endeavor in 2010 at a local community college near my hometown after being honorably discharged from the military. I attained all the necessary general education credits in English, Mathematics, History, Social Sciences, and the like while attending this small community college. After earning all my general education credits, I then transferred to Salisbury University in order to pursue my B.S. in Geography with a track emphasis in Geographic Information Science. I spent the next two years at this institution pursing that avenue, and since I had already completed all my general education credits at a community college, I was able to focus solely on the courses necessary for my intended major. After two years there, I was able to earn my Bachelor’s degree and still had a year of benefits left remaining on my Post-911 G.I. Bill. With the remaining benefits, I was then able to complete all but three graduate courses towards my Master’s degree in Geospatial Information Science and Technology from North Carolina State University. In hindsight however, if I had not taken a few unnecessary elective courses during the Summer semesters while in undergraduate school, I could have easily finished my Master’s degree utilizing only my Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits.

As alluded to previously, it is possible for a determined and motivated individual to finish a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree while only utilizing the resources of the Post-911 G.I. Bill, which one can earn with thirty-six months of continuous military service. For an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, this conceivably can give them a Master’s degree by the age of twenty-five or twenty-six, and that is accounting for four years of military service, as well as four years for attaining their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. If that individual is discharged from the military and has no debt, has a vehicle which is paid for, and has saved a little money during those four years, then the college tuition costs, book fees, and living expense stipends which the Post-911 G.I. Bill affords to them, can easily make it so they don’t have to work part-time while going to college. Any part-time job they may wish to seek would be additional income they could save for any living expenses while seeking a job after their college education was completed. Granted, plans don’t always work out perfectly in the real world, but it is very possible to accomplish getting a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in four years utilizing the Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits, all without having to take out educational loans or having to use personal resources in order to do so.

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