Choosing a School: Factors to Consider Before Using Your GI Bill

There are many factors worth weighing when you first consider using your GI Bill to go to school. You could be tempted to enroll in the one offering you the most credits for your military training and experiences, but that might not be your best choice. Why? If many of those transferred credits don’t help you work toward your goal, what good are they? Instead, look for the school that offers you the most useable credits.

However, before you know which credits will benefit you, you have to first identify your long and short-term education goals. Once you know your goals, then you can choose which degree program will get you to your short-term goal. Once you have identified your desired degree, you will know which courses you need to graduate and which school will award you the most credits applicable toward your degree plan will be much clearer.

Identifying long-term goals is also important. For example, if you earned a four-year degree in physics, and then decide to go to law school, you most likely won’t have the educational base you need to get accepted into law school, and you will have to take additional courses to meet the prerequisites. You might have to pay for these courses out-of-pocket if you do not have enough GI Bill entitlement left to pay for them. On the other hand, if you had identified your long-term goal before starting on your four-year degree, you would already have all the pre-requisites accomplished and stand a greater chance of acceptance into the program without additional money coming out of your pocket.

While receiving the maximum usable credits for your military experience and training is important, there are other factors to consider. In addition to knowing your long and short term goals, and determining what kind of degree you need to attain your goals, you also have to consider the:

– VA-approved schools that offer your degree.
– School veteran support systems in place to help veteran students.
– Reputation and accreditation of the college or university.

Since many schools are for-profit-only, you have to do your homework first to ensure you are going to get the best education for your GI Bill entitlement. In most cases you only have 36 months of entitlement if you only have one GI Bill, or up to 48 months if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, so you want to get the most “bang for your buck.”

If you are considering starting school and using your GI Bill, examine at these factors before choosing a school. Most  have counselors that stand ready to help you sort through the myriad choices and decisions. Enlist their help; they have the training and experience to help you make the best choices for your life and situation.

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