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Old 09-24-2015, 05:16 PM   #21
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agreed - plus they can always go to a service academy for free
Others have commented on the service commitments involved in attending a service academy. What I didn't see was any comment that the admissions standards are on a par with the Ivies so it's just not a matter of wanting to go there and you get in.

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Old 09-24-2015, 05:32 PM   #22
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Others have commented on the service commitments involved in attending a service academy. What I didn't see was any comment that the admissions standards are on a par with the Ivies so it's just not a matter of wanting to go there and you get in.

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Plus if you can handle being an officer and can stay for 20 years, you can retire and get a good management job since a 20 year officer has in general demonstrated management and coping skills.

Note that in addition to the big 3 academies there are the Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy.
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Old 09-24-2015, 07:01 PM   #23
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Others have commented on the service commitments involved in attending a service academy. What I didn't see was any comment that the admissions standards are on a par with the Ivies so it's just not a matter of wanting to go there and you get in.....
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The admissions process to the US service academies is an extensive and very competitive process. ..... All these schools have an extremely competitive application process and are ranked annually by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes.com as one of the most selective colleges and universities in America. The average acceptance rate is between 8-17% for each of the schools.
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Old 09-25-2015, 12:47 PM   #24
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Our daughter is 15 months into her five-year active-duty commitment. (She's also committed to another three years in some form of the Reserves.) Most of the fun has stopped. Admittedly she's in that final stretch requiring a burst of hard effort to get qualified, but she's still hating life.

Suddenly all of Mom & Dad's sea stories have taken on new relevance. She's also appreciating the wisdom of a high savings rate for financial independence... although when your OPTEMPO exceeds 50%, you're not going to find many ways to spend it anyhow.
Not to highjack this thread, but discussions of getting free education through 'serving my country' got me curious. Can anyone give me a brief summary how it's done? What's the minimum time a person must spend in the military for such benefits? I understand the why factor, it's FREE in financial terms, but it can also be very dangerous or lose/wound your child if he/she gets called to 'serve the country' in say Middle East these days. I mean just reading some of experiences of veterans, I cannot wrap my mind around such a pursuit for free education. I hope my own kids don't join though I respect and understand others who do.
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Old 09-25-2015, 12:55 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by friar1610 View Post
Others have commented on the service commitments involved in attending a service academy. What I didn't see was any comment that the admissions standards are on a par with the Ivies so it's just not a matter of wanting to go there and you get in.

Friar1610 (retired Navy but not an Academy grad)
oh I think it's a LOT easier to get into a service academy than it is an ivy - at least it was 30 years ago if you had decent grades and were an athlete in high school

my brother got an apt to West Point in the 60s but he was a genius

There are also other options, like going to Texas A&M and being in the corp - that's also a freebie
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Old 09-25-2015, 01:00 PM   #26
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I cannot wrap my mind around such a pursuit for free education. I hope my own kids don't join though I respect and understand others who do.
go figure - my Dad was begging me to go to the AFA (for obvious financial reasons) - guess the AF has lower mortality rates in times of war

I got into Brown too but he was unwilling to pay for it...
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Old 09-25-2015, 01:48 PM   #27
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I work for a Mega Corp. I am 49 years old and I have worked their for 27 years. I will leave with about 900k in 401k and cash balance from Pension. I should also get 150k in severance and un-used vacation. My husband is retired and has Medical benefits and a pension. The company is changing and after many years of giving up what feels like everything, for a 60+ hour workweek and Travel, I want to try something new. I know I will not make the money I make today. I am worried that things are changing so much at my company that the generous severance packages will be gone soon, so I quietly volunteered for the next round of Layoffs which happen 3-4 times a year at this point. I'm scared but it feels right. I always said when I did not care any more I would leave and I am just about there. I know I will have to work, but I am going to try to work less. Perhaps part time for as log as I can and then maybe tap into a 72T if needed. My husband has a pension. We have 2 kids to put through college ages 12 and 14. I do have some money saved for college, but not nearly enough. I really never carry a lot of debt. I do have a mortgage but it is manageable. I changed it to a 30 year about 3 years ago when I was thinking that my company may be sold or I may be forced out and wanted to reduce the payments, just in case. I have a lot of equity in my home and will downsize eventually. Right now my parents still live with me in an in-law. I am not exactly where I wanted to be financially, but I am close. I know that we spend way more than is needed and I feel like if we cut back we can make it, but I am so scared. Any advice for me as I take the leap?
Now, if you sent your story to MMM and similarly minded people, you'd hear very harsh critique. In short, you'd be told that you have enough and good to retire though this forum would disagree with such assessment.

The way I read your intro, I got a feeling that you don't have a clue about your spending (I'm not trying to offend you). Do you have an emergency fund that would keep you going after severance and unemployment? Do you keep paying the same amount for your mortgage after refinancing? If you had a list of expenses, members of this forum are good at reviewing them. How much of the family current expenses are covered by your husband's pension? What are your plans for your 401k? In case you plan to roll to an IRA, you'd have options to save money on taxes when rolling it to a Roth IRA gradually. OTOH, keep in mind it would lose its protective shell against lawsuits if it ever happened, so you might want to wait a few years before the kids are on their own.

But the wild card - health insurance - is at least covered and it's a huge plus.
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:25 PM   #28
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I work for a Mega Corp. I am 49 years old and I have worked their for 27 years. I will leave with about 900k in 401k and cash balance from Pension. I should also get 150k in severance and un-used vacation. My husband is retired and has Medical benefits and a pension. The company is changing and after many years of giving up what feels like everything, for a 60+ hour workweek and Travel, I want to try something new. I know I will not make the money I make today. I am worried that things are changing so much at my company that the generous severance packages will be gone soon, so I quietly volunteered for the next round of Layoffs which happen 3-4 times a year at this point. I'm scared but it feels right. I always said when I did not care any more I would leave and I am just about there. I know I will have to work, but I am going to try to work less. Perhaps part time for as log as I can and then maybe tap into a 72T if needed. My husband has a pension. We have 2 kids to put through college ages 12 and 14. I do have some money saved for college, but not nearly enough. I really never carry a lot of debt. I do have a mortgage but it is manageable. I changed it to a 30 year about 3 years ago when I was thinking that my company may be sold or I may be forced out and wanted to reduce the payments, just in case. I have a lot of equity in my home and will downsize eventually. Right now my parents still live with me in an in-law. I am not exactly where I wanted to be financially, but I am close. I know that we spend way more than is needed and I feel like if we cut back we can make it, but I am so scared. Any advice for me as I take the leap?
JoJo,

From my personal experience, being "out", on your own terms, while you are still in your forties is a wonderful feeling.

Two things however would be a prerequisite for that.
- Having the financial resource and confidence in your spending to know that you will be okay - with plenty of buffer.
- Having something to retire into, or at least a constant stream of activities and encounters that will keep you busy and engaged with people.

In my case I was fortunate to be able to go 60% time for a few months followed by nearly 15 months of unpaid leave of absence for dependent care before finally making the final separation having verified my emotional reaction and family acceptance ahead of time.

-gauss
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:01 PM   #29
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I know a lot of people say "Have something to retire into", but since work dominates so much of one's time and life, some will not know where they are going into initially. Only after the fact do opportunities arise, and this can not be known pre retirement. So I say take the plunge if your numbers jive!
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Old 09-25-2015, 04:02 PM   #30
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oh I think it's a LOT easier to get into a service academy than it is an ivy - at least it was 30 years ago if you had decent grades and were an athlete in high school

my brother got an apt to West Point in the 60s but he was a genius

There are also other options, like going to Texas A&M and being in the corp - that's also a freebie
I suspect things have changed a bit in 30 years. I wouldn't want to be applying either to a Service Academy or an Ivy these days with my high school record of well over 30 years ago.

Top 100 – Lowest Acceptance Rates | Rankings | US News Best Colleges

I know that sometimes jocks with less than stellar records are recruited by the Service Academies but they generally have to go to a year of a service prep school to get their academics up to snuff before they get formally accepted.

I stand by what I initially said.
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Old 09-25-2015, 04:17 PM   #31
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^ I still think anyone decently intelligent that can get through basic training can get a free edumication through the military if they try hard enough.

Heck when I was in college the navy wanted to pay me $1200 a month until I graduated to be a submariner...I turned that down too...who knows if it would have worked out or not
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Old 09-25-2015, 04:54 PM   #32
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^ I still think anyone decently intelligent that can get through basic training can get a free edumication through the military if they try hard enough.




No disagreement there. But "an education" and a "service academy education" are not the same thing. I knew lots of sailors who completed associates or bachelors degrees using tuition aid at community colleges or through upper division programs such as University of Maryland University College. They got solid educations and credible academic credentials. Others were fortunate enough to go through degree completion programs where their full-time jobs for 1-2 years were simply to finish their degrees. But those programs were not in the same league with nor as competitive to get into as the service academies.
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:42 AM   #33
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No disagreement there. But "an education" and a "service academy education" are not the same thing. I knew lots of sailors who completed associates or bachelors degrees using tuition aid at community colleges or through upper division programs such as University of Maryland University College. They got solid educations and credible academic credentials. Others were fortunate enough to go through degree completion programs where their full-time jobs for 1-2 years were simply to finish their degrees. But those programs were not in the same league with nor as competitive to get into as the service academies.
I agree that there's enough command support (and perhaps tuition assistance) for any servicemember to have the potential to earn a college degree. It's a time-management sacrfice.

A service academy is a more difficult challenge. About 10% of the appointments are reserved for enlisted servicemembers, but they still have to meet the miimum standards of the admissions boards. (For example, USNA sets the minimum SAT scores at 600 math and 600 verbal. No waivers.) Those who don't make the cut might be offered a year at NAPS (at govt expense, many enlisted) or a junior college (funded mainly by USNA alumni donations) as long as they remain eligible for an appointment in all other respects. A son of a high-school classmate had a 590 SAT score but lots of potential in other areas, so he attended a year of junior college courtesy of the Naval Academy Foundation and re-took the SATs. He matriculated at USNA the following year and today he's flying Navy helicopters.

Each service academy counts their applications differently, and it's controversial. For example USNA counts an application if a high-school student indicates interest on the website, attends the Summer Seminar "trial" week, or even attends a sports camp-- whether or not they fill out the full application. This loose applications criteria tends to reduce the admissions rate, but it's still extremely competitive.

Today I doubt I'd be able to squeak by the admissions committee. I was very strong on academics but not so much on the rest of the "whole person" multiple. But in the 1970s USNA was under heavy pressure to cough up more nukes, and I certainly fit that profile...

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Not to highjack this thread, but discussions of getting free education through 'serving my country' got me curious. Can anyone give me a brief summary how it's done? What's the minimum time a person must spend in the military for such benefits? I understand the why factor, it's FREE in financial terms, but it can also be very dangerous or lose/wound your child if he/she gets called to 'serve the country' in say Middle East these days. I mean just reading some of experiences of veterans, I cannot wrap my mind around such a pursuit for free education. I hope my own kids don't join though I respect and understand others who do.
Both the service academies and the ROTC units now require an obligation of five years of active duty and three years of Reserves (which can be served in the Individual Ready Reserve, or inactive status). That's generally referred to as "five and out", although some may stay on active duty longer for shore duty (or a return to the continental U.S.) to facilitate the transition.

Some specialties (Air Force and Navy pilots, military doctors) incur additional obligations that may take them out to 7-9 years of total active service. It depends on how long it takes them to get through the training pipeline and how much $$ is invested in them.

And yes, it's dangerous. Most of the applicants (including me, my spouse, and my daughter) failed to appreciate the danger and the accumulated damage of wear & tear. People can easily get hurt or even killed out there, although some specialties are actually less dangerous than civilian life. For other servicemembers, the military is regarded as the best option for an aimless life or a disadvantaged childhood. I read a statistic a decade ago claiming that over half of recruits had witnessed a shooting or been sexually assaulted before joining the service. Other recruits just weren't ready for college or a career (for whatever reason) or felt that they were chronically underemployed.

Military veterans earn GI Bill benefits which will pay for their college degree or other certification (36 months or four school years of nine months each). It might not pay for Harvard but will certainly pay for almost any State U, including a housing allowance. With a longer service obligation, servicemembers can transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses or children-- so some military families can earn a free education paid for by their military member.

Some civilian employers think that veterans are just mindless order-following drones or else sit around on their asses barking orders all day. Many vets have been told that they "won't be able to just order around their team members" or "will have to learn soft skills in working with people". When vets encounter that attitude, they quickly learn to seek employment elsewhere because those opinions show that employer is clueless. Veterans not only learn to stay calm under pressure but to prioritize, focus, and persevere. We also can't just snap out orders and expect mindless compliance without first earning mutual respect and building a team. It's all about leadership and setting the environment, not coercion.
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