Tailgate event educates Soldiers on benefits
September 20, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 20, 2012) -- The Army Education Center strives to help Soldiers achieve life-long learning goals and take things to the next level with its Fall College Tailgate, designed to bring Soldiers and Families face-to-face with the college representatives that can help them in their quests for higher learning.
On-post and off-post schools will be set up tailgate style outside with information about programs, degrees, tuition and online learning for attendees.
The event will be on the outside grounds of Bldg. 4502 Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be hourly giveaways (people don't have to be present to win), and hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided to attendees who attend the free event, said Sally Markovich, an education counselor at the Army Education Center
The event is a nontraditional school fair where potential students can see what they have available to them. Representatives will inform them what options Soldiers have in terms of brick and mortar classes as well as online.
"Our purpose in this is to get Soldiers familiar with outside schools so they can touch base with colleges and learn what is available. This event helps us get a lot of information out to a lot of people at one time rather than individually and to ensure that everyone is getting the proper information," said Markovich.
The casual and Family-friendly event is expected to bring in 200 Soldiers and Families who are searching for colleges.
"We can touch 10 to 30 people a day, but with the tailgate we hope to help hundreds with their educational goals. We want people to come and get excited about school. We want to show them all the different possibilities that they have. We want them to get real education plans in place," she said.
Most Soldiers only have access to the in-house schools like Troy and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, so the AEC wants to expose Soldiers and Families to other schools that they have access to.
"We want people to touch base with these other, outside schools," said Markovich, adding that representatives from Baker College Online, Enterprise State Community College, George C. Wallace Community College, University of Phoenix, Central Texas College, University of Maryland University Colleges, Auburn University, University of Alabama, Excelsior College and others have been invited to share their admission process and program information as well as post 9/11 GIBill benefits with Soldiers and Family members.
"We have many schools of all different types come out. We have a truck training school coming out as well as more traditional schools like the University of Alabama Birmingham. We try to get a good variety because not all our Soldiers and Families want the same type of school," she said.
The 21 schools that will be in attendance are interested in talking to Soldiers and their Families face-to-face about what education opportunities they have at their schools, Markovich added.
ACE encourages Soldiers who perhaps cannot attend school right now due to training to plan ahead for future endeavors.
"This is a great way for Soldiers who may be in flight school and cannot take on college right now, but they can plan ahead for their next duty station or for their Families to get their foot in the door when it comes to preparing for college," said Markovich.
ACE counselors want Soldiers and their Families to know that by using their educational benefits, such as the Montgomery GI Bill and post 9/11, they can improve their quality of life.
"The Montgomery G.I. Bill or the post 9/11 benefits are available to Soldiers as well as traditional financial aid like Pell Grants and student loans. The post 9/11 benefits are able to be transferred to dependents, so we want dependents to come out and see where they can spend those benefits and get the greatest in return," she said.
Different rules and regulations are attached to different types of financial aid. Soldiers or Families can contact an Army Continuing Education System counselor for more information at Bldg. 4502 or by calling 255-2378.
Markovich said she hopes to see just as many Family members as Soldiers at the event because, "this event is for everyone seeking a higher education."
"When we sit down with people, we want to make sure they are not just looking at today, but they are setting goals for their future in the Army as well as after the Army," she said.