No matter what direction you choose after high school it is essential to take the time to research the career field(s) you are interested in. You should identify the academic degree(s), as well as the professional license(s), certification(s), and work experience, that is required for employment. Part-time work or summer jobs, internships paid or unpaid, volunteer and missionary work, along with hobbies, extra-curricular activities, and athletics, can assist you in developing your goals. Visit colleges and universities, attend any college and career fair at your school or in your community. Look for early learning opportunities such as May-mester, Early College, Dual, or Concurrent Enrollment as well as Summer Programs. Contact the school’s Admissions Office, or your local Military Recruiting Office. Likewise establish and keep the lines of communication open with your High School Guidance Counselor & Athletic Director. Remember your installation School Liaison Specialist, Admissions Officers, Military Recruiters, High School Counselors and Athletic Directors want to hear from you!
Staying on Track
High School is typically a four year journey. It requires patience, support, and encouragement to successfully reach graduation. Parents/Legal Guardians and Students need to examine not only immediate needs but also mid-range and long term goals. Let’s be honest military living presents both threats and opportunities which can impact a student’s learning and overall academic progress. It is not uncommon for Youths and Parents/Legal Guardians to have divergent visions of what the future should hold.
Military families need to keep the following in mind when they have a high school student. Most recruiters, colleges, and universities, focus on the sophomore (10th) and Junior (11th) years of high school. If you will have a change in duty station while your son or daughter is in high school be sure to get transcripts, any reference letters from teachers or coaches, along with contact information, prior to departure. This documentation will be essential for any future admission or scholarship application.
National Dropout Prevention Center http://dropoutprevention.org/
Mississippi Dept. Education- 2019 Dropout Prevention & Restructuring Guide https://www.mdek12.org/sites/default/files/Offices/Secondary%20Ed/Support-Docs/Resources/2019_dropout_prevention_and_restructuring_guidance.pdf
Additional MS State Initiatives http://dropoutprevention.org/tag/mississippi/
General Educational Development (GED) tests https://ged.com/
Find Your Postsecondary Option
Make a plan with your high school student. Revisit and revise the plan as needed. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Your School Liaison is glad to be of service.
College Navigator https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
Council for Higher Education Accreditation https://www.chea.org/
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
ASVAB Career Exploration Program (CEP) https://www.asvabprogram.com/option-ready
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps-ROTC
Navy/Marine Corps www.nrotc.navy.mil
Air Force www.afrotc.com
Army-West Point https://www.westpoint.edu/
Navy/Marine Corps- Annapolis https://www.usna.edu/homepage.php
Air Force https://www.usafa.af.mil/
Coast Guard https://www.uscga.edu/
Merchant Marine https://www.usmma.edu/
College Entrance Exams
The purpose of college entrance exams is to measure a high school student’s readiness for college, by providing colleges and universities with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. College admissions officers assess applicants by using a multifactorial process. Admissions Officers will look at standardized test scores, your high school grade-point-average (GPA), the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extra-curricular activities, admission interviews, and personal essays. In short all the information you included in your application packet. Word to the wise many colleges and universities are now scanning an individual applicant’s social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, QZone, Tumblr, Instagram, & Twitter…to name but a few.
American College Testing (ACT) http://www.act.org/
PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat
Advanced Placement (A.P.) Exams https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/
Funding Post-Secondary Education
In a perfect world personal finances and financial condition would not be a barrier for an otherwise qualified student to attend their desired college or vocational program. However, the cost of post-secondary education continues to increase annually. This expense is impacting families nationwide.
Here again families need to make a plan. Parents and Youths need to communicate on a regular basis and revise the plan as needed. It is best to start early and seek guidance before challenges arise.
Types of Funding
Grants are typically available to students based on student need, school cost, and/or enrollment status. Grants do not have to be repaid.
Scholarships come from many different places including national, state, public and private sources. Scholarship money can be awarded based on a variety of factors such as financial need, academic or athletic achievement, program of study, and background. Every scholarship has its own set of criteria. Scholarships do not have to be repaid.
Loans are borrowed funds that must be repaid with interest. Students may take out loans themselves or Parents may borrow money to pay for the education expenses of a dependent undergraduate student. Parents may also be co-signers on a loan taken out by the Student. Maximum loan amounts increase with each year of completed study. Often times, repayment is deferred until after graduation, withdrawal, or termination of attendance. Federal loans and some state financial aid programs, require the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Work Study funds are paid by the school for on-campus or community-based employment. The money received can only be used for education expenses. Ask questions to ensure that you know what qualifies as an education expense.
Private Aid is financial assistance provided by a private business or other organization. Many Fortune 500 companies provide aid to students. Both Parents and Students to check with their current and former employer to see if such funding is available.
Special Aid is funding for unique groups of students, such as veterans, minorities, individuals with disabilities, civic/volunteer groups, or faith based affiliation.
Early College High School is an academic program that allows high school or even younger students to earn up to two years of college credit and/or and associate arts degree which can then be transferred to a four year college, university, or vocational training program. Most Early College programs are host by your local Community College in partnership with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and the State Department of Education.
In our area East Mississippi Community College hosts an Early College program. They also offer summer programs for college credit and a May-mester spring program.
In-State Tuition is when the college, university, or vocational program, offers a tuition discount to residents of the State. State laws vary as to the length of time a student needs to be living in the State in order to qualify as a resident. Likewise each state has different laws which may or may not consider the unique circumstances of a military-connected child or a veteran.
Out-of-State Tuition is when the college, university, or vocational program charges a higher rate of tuition because the Student is considered a non-resident of the state. It is essential to speak with Admissions Officers at the post-secondary program to know the true cost of enrollment.
Federal Student Aid may offer more favorable terms than a private loan. The U.S. Department of Education administers several major student aid programs. There is a lifetime cap on the total amount of federal student loans you can take out. You DON’T want to hit the cap before you finish your education. When planning for your future career keep in mind both your undergraduate and graduate school requirements. https://studentaid.gov/
ACE Military Guide the American Council on Education has a guide to help postsecondary schools grant all possible credit for military training. Do not assume that the school’s Admission’s Officer will be familiar with this guide. Present it to them https://www3.acenet.edu/militaryguide/CourseSearch.cfm
GI Bill provides educational assistance to service members, veterans, and their dependents https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/
Tax Benefits for Higher Education there are number of tax provisions to assist students and parents with financing a postsecondary education. IRS Publication 970 is an additional resource to aid in your planning. https://www.irs.gov/
The College Savings Plan Network is a clearing house for information on current college savings programs. https://www.collegesavings.org/
Student Veterans of America-SVA is a non-profit 501(c)(3)coalition of student veteran groups on campuses worldwide. SVA’s Connect Alumni program can put you in touch with veterans from the school you are considering. https://studentveterans.org/
Personal Financial Counselor –PFC can help service members and their families address financial challenges in a positive way and create budgets that will allow you to meet any future goal such as pay for college, purchasing a car, or buying a home.
The PFC for Columbus AFB is located in the Airman & Family Readiness Center. Please contact the PFC
Commercial: (662) 434-2790
FAX: (662) 434-2483
Additional information can be found on the PFC’s webpage
Local Post-Secondary Education Options
Columbus AFB Education Center https://www.columbusafbliving.com/education-center/
East Mississippi Community College http://www.eastms.edu/
Saint Leo University https://www.saintleo.edu/columbus-education-center
Mississippi University for Women MUW (a.k.a. The Blue or The W) https://www.muw.edu/
Mississippi State University (Starkville, Meridian, Online) https://www.msstate.edu/