Today, unprecedented numbers of retired and active duty military personnel are wondering what the next step in their lives might be. After having a very clear path of serving their country, they may now be at a professional crossroads – sign up for another tour or retire and pursue another profession.
For many, this is an appealing option – more command of your personal schedule, more time at home. And thanks to the newly implemented Post 9-11 GI Bill, obtaining a high quality education without a financial investment just got easier.
“With this money, I now have the opportunity to be whatever I want to be,” says 38-year-old Gilbert, Ariz. resident Christopher Van Huss, who left the military in April 2004.
The new bill, available to vets or active duty personnel who served after the 2001 terrorist attacks, requires no pay-in, and the tuition is paid directly to the college, so enrollees don’t have to pay money up front or wait for reimbursement. The benefits can also be transferred to spouses and dependents.
“Many individuals may have aborted plans to obtain their degree earlier in life when they fulfilled a call to serve,” says Wendy Proffitt, director of the military division at Grand Canyon University. “At this point in their lives they likely have much more maturity and self-discipline to pursue their education.”
For Van Huss, who started classes at GCU this fall, responsibility for a growing family fueled both his desire to serve and now, his quest to finally obtain a degree. As a single dad raising two young sons, a teaching career is now a very real possibility.
“Sometimes life gets in the way, but now I’m at a place where I have to be here and can see what my future might be,” he says.
Grand Canyon University is one of nearly 600 private colleges that have signed onto a program that enables the GI benefits to be used for private-school tuition. Proffitt and her team of veteran and retired-military recruiters spread the word about scholarship packages available to active duty, retired military and their spouses to cover the tuition difference between what the bill provides and the private university’s higher tuition rates – essentially providing a private-school education entirely tuition-free.
GI Jobs Magazine recently recognized the university as one of the most military-friendly institutions in the country.
According to national statistics, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is estimated at 11.2 percent – or one in nine veterans without a job.
“With the new legislation, those who are coming out of the service might seriously consider an education in conjunction with the option of reenlisting,” Proffitt says.
For more information on the opportunities and financial aid available to military veterans, visit www.gcu.edu.