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Veterans are graduating debt-free

Veterans seeking short-term training or preparing for college in Virginia should consider community colleges to maximize their educational benefits and post-graduate career opportunities.

In addition to providing excellent student support services, community colleges work closely with military supportive companies, industry and organizations to facilitate educational and employability success. At Tidewater Community College in Virginia, 60% of TCC graduates leave without any student debt.

Veterans can graduate debt-free by leveraging existing resources and making smart choices. Below are just a few ways a military-related student can save big on college costs.

  1. Maximize your GI Bill® benefits. Before enrolling in college classes, military-related students with military benefits should explore all their education benefits for active duty, veterans and their families. Whether using your GI Bill®, Tuition Assistance, MyCAA for active duty spouses or Virginia-specific tuition waivers, you want to select the right courses to maximize your aid and graduate on time.
  2. Explore specialized military grants. Veterans and military-related students may be eligible for special training programs financed by dedicated grant funding that doesn’t have to be repaid. For example, TCC recently received a fifth grant to train military veterans and their dependents for careers in trucking. Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate.
  3. Earn college credit for your military experience. By converting your military experience into college credit, you can reduce the number of courses you need to take (and pay for), decrease your time to graduation and get to work that much quicker. Build your free Credits2Careers portfolio and discover how your military experience, education and training might convert to academic credit in a variety of majors.
  4. Consider an apprenticeship. This “earn-while-you-learn” approach combines on-the-job training and related academic instruction. Your employer pays for your classes while you work. Apprentices graduate debt-free and ready to advance professionally! Tidewater Community College’s Apprenticeship Institute partners with Hampton Roads employers offering apprenticeship programs in fields ranging from cyber security to welding.
  5. Research military contract partnerships. Military contract partnerships help transitioning military access customized, short-term training options that lead to high paying careers fields in high demand jobs at a reasonable cost. For example, a partnership between Virginia Natural Gas and TCC trains veterans and transitioning military to fill the growing need for skilled workers in the natural gas industry. The week-long program leads to industry certifications and job opportunities.

Veterans often face a challenging civilian job market when they leave the military. With one-third of college-educated veterans underemployed, choosing the right path in higher education is critical. You don’t need to go into debt to prepare for a high-paying civilian career.