Is this a good way to get to college? Credit: US Navy.

By Kaynen Tolentino; Kamehameha Schools (Kea’au, HI)

What do you do if you wanted to go to college for the degree or sports, but could not afford the cost and fees? Well the military may be the way to go.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, for the years 2017–2018, the average cost to attend college is roughly $35,000. If you were to look at it in a 4-year scale you would have to pay at least $140,000.

You can take out loans and grants to help pay for the cost. The way that a loan works is that you apply for a loan and if you get it, you get money to help pay off school. When applying for a loan, you sign up for a payment plan. The most common plan is the 10 year plan. This means you get 10 years to pay off your loans. As soon you finish college, stop college, or change your current enrollment, then your interest rates kick in.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average interest rate for the years 2017–2018 is at 5.475%. In addition, some careers, such as nurses, doctors, lawyers, accounting, require hours of internships.

On the other hand, the military pays for schooling for as long as you are in the military or, if your are retired, as long as your GI bill benefits last These education benefits are earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families. In order to get this, you must maintain a passing grade.

While in the military, getting your education, you are also getting paid to work. The starting pay starts at $1,600 per month as of 2017, according to After a few interviews with and

According to Aaron Tolentino, who is 40 years old and is retired as a E-6, Petty Officer first class, from the Navy, “the Navy was a real life changing experience for me. I just barely got by in high school, graduating with a 1.8 GPA.” While in the Navy, Tolentino discovered many benefits: free medical, GI Bill, and world travel.

Petty Officer Simon Holley, who is currently a Navy recruiter for Hawai’i
confirmed Tolentino’s claims. “Yes, while in the Navy, you are able to attend college on your own time, as long as it won’t interfere with your job,” said Holley. “The cost of education in the military is free.”

Furthermore, said Holley, since you are in the military, you are “able to get work experience and get paid, opposed to taking on an internship and not getting paid”

In addition, if you decide to get out of the military after your first term (one term is eight years), with an honorable discharge, you are granted GI Bill benefits. This benefit will pay for $66,000 worth of college attendance even when you are out of the military, according to

However, if you choose to go for your retirement, you “need to complete 20 years in the armed forces.” Therefore, if you were to get in at the age of 18, right out of high school, you will be able to retire at the age 38. It may look like “cruise mode” now, but many military retirees start a second career after their 20 years of service.

“You can use your experience you earned in the Navy, and become a boss in a field that you do not know much about. Like me, I became a supervisor in the maintenance department in the public housing” said Tolentino.

Tolentino said, that a friend of his is a pharmacist. At the age of 39, she had paid off all of her college debt. That would mean, from the age of 40 she finally started to make more money by not paying any of her loans, and was able to start saving for a future trip that she would love to go on.

With all of pros and cons of post high school planning, I have chosen to join the Navy after I graduate from high school.

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