The value of an education

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Padgett
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
A worker with a bachelor degree holder will earn nearly $1 million more than a worker with a high school diploma over their lifetime, according to the Census Bureau.

With three colleges on base, several colleges in the local area and a multitude of distance-learning schools on the internet, it's easier than ever to get a college education and the Dover Air Force Base Education Office has a lot of resources available to set people on the path to success.

"The education office has everything from helping an Airman in a squadron with their CDCs to helping people finish their doctorates," said Robert King, 436th Force Support Squadron force development flight chief.

The base education office not only provides support for active duty service members, but also provides support for family members.

"We provide counseling and scholarship information for spouses and children, we help parents with financial aid forms and we provide information on schools," said Mr. King.

"We want to make sure folk succeed and we try to get them in a program that's going to work for them," he said. "There are some people who do really well by themselves on the computer, and there are others who need to be in a classroom. We try and make sure we match the programs with the individual's learning styles."

There are many educational opportunities offered by the education office to help get people on their educational path.

College Level Examination Program

College Level Examination Program testing allows military members to take a final exam-style test to prove they are proficient in the tested subject.

"If you pass a CLEP test, it can be anywhere from 3 - 6 college credits for no cost," said Mr. King. "It's a good way to get college credit without ever having to sit in a classroom."

While it may have been many years since some Team Dover members have sat in a classroom or have used some subjects such as Algebra, there are ways to prepare for the test.

"The base library and the Air Force Portal have study materials, so people can touch up," said Mr. King. "If you take the test and don't do well, the only penalty is you can't take that same test again for six months. If you take a math test and it doesn't work out, you can still come back the next week and take an English test."

Scholarships and Grants

While servicemembers have Tuition Assistance and the Montgomery GI Bill at their disposal, there are times when even these might not cover the costs of some colleges. That's where scholarships and grants can help ease the burden for servicemembers.

"There are a fairly large number of grants and scholarships available to active duty as well as spouses," said Mr. King. "We maintain a listing with a lot of those. We also have a couple books that could help people find money for college.

"The Air Force Excellence Scholarship offers a $3,000 award for excellence and people who contribute to the community, every CCAF class we offer the Pitsenbarger Awards which is a $400 scholarship for graduates who compete in an essay-writing contest and we also have the Officers Spouses Club scholarship."

The education office maintains a listing of scholarships worth anywhere between $1,000 - $3,000 a year.

"I always try to remind people when they're looking for money for school, the state they came from may have benefits," said Mr. King. "There is money out there, you just have to know where to look."

Online/classroom courses

With advances in technology in the past couple years, online courses have become increasingly popular.

Online courses allow students to log in, study and enter homework assignments at their leisure.

"We have a list of popular schools available to military members," said Mr. King. "However, if a student finds an online course they want to attend, they can still fill out the form for Tuition Assistance through the Air Force portal."

While online courses are perfect for those who are not on a fixed schedule and need to be able to access their class at any time, there are others who prefer the classroom environment and need the one-on-one training with an instructor.

Dover has three colleges on base; Wilmington, Wesley and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Each school offers a reduced tuition for military members, some saving as much as $400 per credit hour.


Everyone in the Air Force is entitled to a one-time certification up to $9,000, according to Mr. King.

These kinds of certifications can include truck driving school, welding school, housing inspection and even yoga instruction.

"There are even people who are taking piloting courses," said Mr. King. "We won't pay for flying lessons, but we will pay for the ground school and certifications needed for the pilots' license."

Commissioning program

There are many military members who sign up as enlisted members and then decide that they have what it takes to become an officer. The education has programs to help them reach their goal as well.

One program is the Leaders Encouraging Airman Development program.

"The LEAD program has about 80 slots at the Air Force Academy and the preparatory school for enlisted members," said Mr. King.

Applicants do have to be under the age of 22, unmarried, have no drug use or convictions, be a US citizen or eligible for citizenship and medically qualified to become an officer.
Another route to becoming an officer is the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

"You apply for and get accepted into an ROTC program at a university, and then you are released from active duty to finish the ROTC program. Once you finish you come back to active duty as an officer," said Mr. King.

The USAF Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program is another tool available to the enlisted force. NECP students complete their bachelor's degree at a college or university with an AFROTC detachment. Students are commissioned after passing the National Council Licensure Examination and then attend Commissioned Officer Training and the Nurse Transition Program.

"There's more than one way to get from point A to point B," said Mr. King. "We're here to help get people on that path."