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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Offers Ways to Pursue College Degrees

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver of American Forces Press Service, is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

In this blog, Heather writes about the various resources available to military spouses wishing to earn a four-year college degree.

Going to College: Easier Than You Think

With the reshaping of the My Career Advancement Accounts program, as Elaine Wilson told you about in the blog, "Spouse Jobs Program Resumes in October," I wanted to pass along information about additional educational resources for military spouses.

Pursuing a four-year college degree can have benefits for both the military spouse and the entire family. The average annual salary difference between someone with a four-year degree and a person with a high school diploma is approximately $20,000.

Spouses might think that it will be difficult to pursue a four-year degree while living the military life of frequent moves but as I found out by reading an article on the National Military Family Association's website, "It's easier than you think!"

Start by visiting the education center on your installation. An education counselor will help you get started by taking you through the steps and pointing you in the right direction. Education counselors have extensive knowledge of programs and scholarships available to help you start and complete your education despite the challenges you might face. These counselors can address the education issues arising from moving, deployments, or other disruptions. They can also describe the education assistance programs for military spouses.

The next question is how to pay for your education. There are a variety of resources available to military spouses including scholarships.

Don't limit your search for education dollars only to military sources, however. By filling out a Federal Application for Student Aid, various federal options become available. Visit the U.S. Department of Education free Application for Federal Student Aid website to apply for federal grants and loans.

As you begin your quest for a four-year degree, beware that transferring credits between schools can be challenging but not impossible.

Three tips should make transferring easier:

-- Contact your previous schools to send an official transcript to your new school.

-- Keep a copy of your official transcript in your own files.

-- Create a file that includes each course syllabus and a copy of the school catalog.

This last one about the course syllabus and copy of the school catalog can be really helpful when trying to transfer credits. It is not uncommon for schools to use different names for the same subject or even a different department may teach the same subject. By having the syllabus and school catalog you can show your new school that you have already completed that requirement even if it was called something else or taught by a different department.

It is never too late to decide to get your college degree. My mother wasn't a military spouse but she was 47 when she got her college degree and that led to a civilian Air Force career and some wonderful opportunities.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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