Can You Go to School while on Active Duty?

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Servicemen and servicewomen dedicate their lives to protecting the liberties and safety of all Americans.

Unfortunately, many members of the military family struggle to join their civilian counterparts when pursuing further education. They face obstacles that most students never have to worry about.

Is school even possible while on active duty? Good news: It is. Let’s talk about it.

Why do service members struggle in school?

It’s important to note that higher education is designed for traditional students who are roughly 18-22 years old, without a job or a family. This represents the average demographic makeup of college students.

Most service member students don’t match this profile, making college a challenging fit for many.

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These brave men and women have responsibilities and duties outside of pursuing an education, which makes it harder to find the time and make the effort to complete a degree.

Constant relocation—or PCS (Permanent Change of Station), as it’s known in the military—is one of the toughest obstacles facing military members in their pursuit of a degree.

On average, these individuals must uproot their lives and move to a completely new location every two to three years. Considering most bachelor’s students take six years to graduate, it’s not difficult to understand the problem confronting service members. It’s an inescapable part of joining the armed forces that makes it difficult to juggle an education.

In reality, this routine relocation is a mixed bag. There are obvious challenges when pursuing higher education, but there are good reasons for these moves too. Service members can gain new skills and develop additional expertise to make themselves more valuable in the eyes of the military.

Can you go to school while on active duty?

Yes, it’s possible to attend school while on active duty!

Not all members, however, are taking the traditional path of a four-year degree. Some active-duty personnel looking to improve their career opportunities go to trade school.

The advantages of trade schools over college for veterans.


It’s no secret that college tuition rates are growing.

The idea of taking on tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt makes military members on tight budgets think twice about this academic path. This is one reason the skilled trades are becoming a popular choice among active duty servicemembers.

To put the financial aspect into perspective, the average cost of a four-year degree for in-state students is $102,828.

Trade schools, on the other hand, cost less. Members of the military can also use their G.I. bill to cover some or all the costs of trade school.


With an average relocation every few years, the four-year degree option doesn’t really fit into a military member’s short-term life plans.

Trade school programs, on the other hand, take less time to complete. At RSI, for example, we offer a variety of skilled trades programs, ranging in length from six to 15 months. This shorter duration makes it easier for active-duty personnel to complete their education around their military responsibilities.


Active-duty service members who relocate every few years benefit from having a flexible education. Trade school programs are generally more adaptable to the hectic and unpredictable schedules of military members. This is in contrast to standard colleges, which have strict start dates and rigid class times. Military Friendly® schools are especially good for service members as they take a special pledge to make their programs accommodating to military life. Finding trade schools that meet these standards can make it easier for active-duty members to complete their education.

Going to school when on active duty isn’t easy. It requires a lot of dedication, focus, and hard work, but the rewards are worth the struggle. If you’re interested in pursuing an education in the skilled trades, read about the basics of trade school programs and what career opportunities you can gain after graduation.

If you’re an active duty military member, contact us to find out how we can help.