Foo - Decisions, decisions...
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04-23-10, 11:56 PM
Just curious as to what some of your opinions might be here:
I am 30 right now. I have a well paying job($50k/year), that is ok. Not great, but not bad. Full benefits come with the job. No car payments(though I do outright own a few, going to sell some of them), and single. My only real obligation is rent, at $1000/month. Going to knock that down a bit, as a friend is going to move in as a roommate soon.
In '99, I joined the Army for 6 years and got the $40k GI Bill+Army college fund. So far, I've used up about 12 months worth of that money. If I don't finish using it by 2015, it goes away. I have, for the most part, a full year of college completed.
If I continue to go to school part time and work at my current job, I'll finish a degree within 6-10 years. If I quit my job and go to school full time, I can finish my degree in 3-3.5 years.
More math: I currently am on the standard GI Bill, and get $975/month for half time. Double that for full time, and I am looking at $1950 per month, as long as I am in school(tax free money). If I did my homework correctly, that's a $600/month kicker from my ACF. I can convert the GI Bill to the post 9/11 bill, which changes it to the following: Tuition is paid directly to the school, and the gov't pays me a housing allowance($1458) plus my kicker each month I am in school($2058 total).
I am thinking of quitting my current job, going post 9/11 GI bill, and going to school full time. It seems as though I shouldn't have a problem covering expenses every month I am in school with my GI bill money. I can ride my bicycle to the lightrail, and take the lightrail to school(which is what I do now anyways). So I wouldn't have a need to spend any money on gas for a car(one could argue I don't need to now, but I do spend $ on gas to get to work). My main concern is the summer months, as I would lose my income during those months. I would either need enough savings, or get a summer job.
I am also considering joining the national guard, for the extra ~$300/month bonus for doing 1 weekend.
Would I be a fool to not take the time to go to school full time? Is there anything I might be missing in my equation here? It seems to me, that quitting work and going to school full time would be the best option for the long term.
04-24-10, 12:23 AM
Do you think your employer would be open to you working part-time while you go to school? If you work at 50% time, how long would it take you to finish your degree?
Some employers have programs that make it easier for people to combine work and school. However, in this economy things may have changed. I'd look into that before making any decisions. That said, if you are projecting it would take 6-10 years for you to finish your degree while working full time, I'd opt for quitting and going to school full time. Depending on what area you are going into, a lot can change in that time frame. For example, if you were getting a degree in science or engineering technology can change so quickly that you would need different skill sets. If you are going for something like accounting then that's a different matter.
Still, I think getting it over with quickly is good, but do check if your employer has any special programs that might help you. Could you work for them part-time while you go to school full time in addition to all these other GI things you get?
04-24-10, 06:18 AM
Do the study - take the money!
I also agree with Snicklefritz that you might be able to work it somehow to be part time etc.
04-24-10, 06:41 AM
new rules out there, my friend! I do believe that you can use up all your "old" GI Bill eliigibilty, and then start in on the "post 911" benefits - hopefully your quoted amount for living expenses are for the school you attend? The monthly living allowances are different in different locations!
You should check out your eligibility status on the "my gi bill" web site to make sure - I don't know how they treat kickers, or if they exist under the post 911 benefits, so factor that into your decision. Once you switch, though, your CANNOT revert. One BIG bonus, though, under the new bill - 7 credits = FULL TIME BENEFIT, so you might plan to keep your job and just take 7 credits for the best of both worlds? Make an appointment with your school's VA coordinator, and if they cannot answer all your questions, go on-line WHILE YOU ARE WITH THE COORDINATOR to submit the unanswered questions. The VA is still in the process of training on the new benefits, so there are many unanswered questions out there.
Regardless of what you decide to do: new benefits are transferrable to a spouse or eligible children (check web site), so if you have family members who might qualify in the future for your unused benefits, you might want to use up your regular benefits (non-transferrable) and then switch to new benefits for at least your last semester, and transfer any remaining unused benfits over.
Other things to think about: if you decide to join the guard for the extra $$, be sure the unit you're joining has recently "been there, done that" or you might find yourself overseas - ARNG units are eligible for overseas duty every 3 years or so, unless they reorganize the unit, which makes it eligible immediately. Also, if you join for the 3 year minimum - as opposed to the standard 6 - in SOME cases, they can ship you out with ANY unit needing a body, so just remember, the Guard isn't just about floods/fires/storms anymore!! AND, many guard units are CERF training thier members. The training sessions are all over the place, at all different times - but definately happen when college IS IN SESSION. These 4 - 5 day training sessions are in addition to the weekend and 2 week stint - my son has been to 3, so far.
Also - you can attend classes through the summer, so your benefits would cover you then if you decide to stop work.
Lastly - Good Luck & thanks for your service!
04-24-10, 06:41 AM
What do you want to be doing 10 years from now? Will the college degree help you get there (I hope you're looking at more than just the $ in that regard)? How will you do in your classes if you increase it to full-time? What about benefits (health insurance and such)?
We don't have the critical answers. You do.
I like the thought of seeing if you could retain part-time employment with your current job.
04-24-10, 06:54 AM
RE health benefits - can you get Tri-Care now? if not, enrollment in Tr-Care health insurance is another "plus" in the national guard side - very good coverage for @$100/month
04-24-10, 07:43 PM
I don't believe I can get Tri-care now, but from what I've seen it's as low as $50/month for it if I join the Guard. And I would be joining a unit that is not likely to deploy.
I don't know that I really want to continue part-time at work. I believe I won't do as well in school, if I have to be concerned with work. Plus, they really don't do part time at my work, so I don't know how possible, or feasible, it really would be. But obviously, it doesn't hurt to ask.
From all I've gathered on the VA website, I can convert what I have left of the Chapter 30 to the Chapter 33. Chapter 33(post 9/11) does allow kickers/college fund up to $950 a month. The $1458 is the BAH for an E5 with dependents in my area, which is what the website says they pay for a monthly allowance. Plus, with the Ch33, on the last BAH payment made to me(when the full benefit expires), they pay me back a portion of the $1200 I paid in for the Ch30 benefit(if that made sense).
As for summer: there is a limited number of classes that I could attend, if at all. Some classes are always held in summer, some are never held. I'm going forth on this as if none of the classes I need will be held during the summer. Seems the safer bet to place on this game.
Current degree goal: EET(electrical engineering technology). Also thinking about CET(civil engineering technology). I've considered full EE/CE, but the school I current attend only offers the EET/CET degrees, and they are probably more suited to me anyways. I just assume play with things, than sit around at a computer all day long. Part of the reason I consider my current job to be just ok; it's all inside, all the time, sitting around at a computer. Not bad, but I'd actually like to get outside once in a while. That is why I am considering the CET right now too.
And thanx to everyone for the opinions/advice so far!
04-24-10, 08:40 PM
+1 to USAZorro's comment about grades. Whatever option you choose, make sure you are set up so that you can get good grades to help maximize what you are getting out of your degree.
In addition to my day job, I teach a class in the evenings, typically general or organic chemistry and always seem to have 25-30% of the class over the age of 25, usually adults returning to get a degree or start a new career. They always seem to do much better than the younger kids so your life experience and maturity will be in your favor. You already know how to work, organize and prioritize things so you'll be ahead of a lot of other people.
04-25-10, 07:07 AM
RE summer seeion - check in with your department chair about credit internships during summer months? Also look into those Gen Ed offerings - 7 credits gets you FT benefits under Cha 33!!
Also, google SCEP (student Career Experience Program) with the Army Coprs of Engineers - you may be able to hook up with them for a full time job when school is out, part time when in session - and if the VA weren't already paying your tuition, they could.
If you believe that college is the thing for you, then do it.
Any subjects you feel like that you could do in your sleep? Then look into possibly testing out. Take the exam and pass, you get full credit for the course. Fail, then you have to pay for the class AND just lost $ on the testing.
Some schools/programs offer to convert life experiences into credit. Don't know how/if it would apply in your case, but you might look into it.
If you're not too tied down geographically, find a school that offers courses on a trimester term. You accumulate credits faster.
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