FORT BRAGG, N.C. - An integral part of both personal and professional development is education. Whether it is in the civilian sector or their military career, Soldiers are made aware that education leads to good things. The Army recognizes this and has established many programs to assist Soldiers who are pursuing a higher education.
"An education makes a good Soldier better," said Colleen Kernstine, a guidance counselor at the Education Services Division at Fort Bragg.
The cost of schooling is a huge problem for those looking into taking on course work. Tuition assistance programs and the Montgomery G.I. Bill have been established to diminish the costs of schooling. T.A. can offer Soldiers $4,500 yearly, with up to $250 to spend per credit hour. The G.I. Bill pays Soldiers $52,000, with the possibility of a larger payout pending eligibility.
"T.A. and the G.I. Bill aren't just recruiting incentives. Soldiers should take advantage of the education that they can get on the Army's dollar," said Kernstine.
The Army also has education centers set up on most of its installations as hubs for Soldiers to seek the tools for higher education. Among the tools available are Internet access, books and counselors to help guide education and career planning for Soldiers.
"No matter where a Soldier is, he should be working with a counselor to set up a degree plan and working toward a goal," said Dr. Vicki Teachey, also a counselor at the Education Services Division.
Soldiers abroad are not shortchanged when it comes to career and educational advancement. The eArmyU program hosts classes online, allowing troops access to classes from anywhere in the world.
"They need Web access," said Teachey, "if they have it, they can take classes just like they would stateside," said Teachey.
The Internet allows Soldiers education continuity regardless of where they are stationed.
"Classes can be started stateside, and if you get deployed, you can continue them from a computer at your next installation," said Kernstine.
The education centers down-range may not be up to par with their stateside counterparts cosmetically, but they're comparable in terms of the resources they offer, said Teachey.
Even with the time constraints Soldiers may be subject to during deployments, the education centers are working to be as accessible to the Soldiers as possible and the education centers are usually open all day said Teachey.
The flexible hours of operation allow Soldiers to spend time on their studies whenever it is convenient, ensuring that their educational pursuits don't become a hassle in lieu of their mission responsibilities.
If a Soldier does have to withdraw from a class for military-related reasons, they will receive a full refund of their investment within 30 to 100 days.
Not only does the pursuit of an education offer college credit, it gives Soldiers promotion points depending on the amount of credit hours completed. There are innumerable benefits whether one decides to participate for their Army or post-military career.
Soldiers have many tools at their disposal when it comes to furthering their education, and the majority of them can be accessed by simply stopping by an Education Center and setting up an appointment with a counselor.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16