COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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When your child wants to attend a U.S. Military Academy
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/when-your-child-wants-to-attend-a-US-military-academy-640

Updated: 2015-05-27

by Kathryn Flynn

Each year West Point Military Academy, the nationís most well-known service academy, hosts its annual Reception Day (R-Day) and welcomes around 1,200 new cadet candidates. Getting accepted into any of the five highly competitive military service academies, The United States Military Academy (West Point), Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy or the Coast Guard Academy is a great accomplishment. The opportunity to earn one of the most prestigious degrees in our country doesnít come easy, but for those with a desire to serve our country with utmost honor itís worth the extra effort.

Benefits of a Service Academy

There are a number of compelling reasons why a student may choose a military service academy over a traditional college or university. First and foremost, in addition to earning a Bachelor of Science degree, graduates automatically enter their chosen branch of the military as an officer. How many of todayís college students are awarded a job once they graduate? Whatís more, in exchange for signing up for five years of active duty, students receive free tuition, room and board, books and medical and dental expenses while attending the academy.

Scoring an Athletic Scholarship

In addition to a rigorous and challenging academic course load, cadets also develop mental, emotional and physical strength to prepare for their upcoming role as an officer. Alumni also become part of a nationwide network that provides exclusive career resources and support for those who wish to expand their opportunities beyond the military after required years of active duty.

Admissions

If your child is serious about wanting to attend a military academy, youíll need to start thinking about the application process during the early years of high school. The basic requirements are that applicants must be a U.S. citizen between 17 and 23 years old (25 for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy), not married or pregnant and have no dependents. Students will have to take the SAT and/or ACT as well as a medical examination administered by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board and a physical fitness test.

In addition to stellar grades and participation in sports and other impressive extracurricular and leadership activities, candidates will also need an official congressional letter of recommendation (except those applying to the Coast Guard). For those who make it to the final of the application process, there is typically a face-to-face interview. Overall itís a grueling process, but for a good reason. Once accepted, cadets are giving up the traditional college experience and committing to at least nine years of a disciplined, military lifestyle (four years at the academy and five years of active duty). Students need to show the academy that they are truly dedicated to serving the country and willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

How to Prepare for College During High School

What happens if you've been saving with a 529 plan?

While attending a service academy may be a tradition for some families, there are also parents who are surprised when their child expresses an interest in a military career. What happens if those families have been diligently saving for college with a 529 plan but now there is a good chance that they wonít need the money? There are actually a couple of options. First, if there is a younger sibling that is planning to attend college you can simply change the beneficiary of the account. If not, you can still withdraw the funds and avoid the 10% penalty tax, thanks to the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 which provides that attendance at a U.S. military academy will be treated as a scholarship for purposes of non-qualified withdrawals from a 529 plan. However, like a scholarship, the earnings portion of the account will be taxable.

Similar to an athletic scholarship, thousands apply to military academies but only a select number are accepted. While you may have your heart set on your child attending West Point, saving with a 529 plan in the meantime might be a safe bet.

Top Benefits of 529 Plans

Each year West Point Military Academy, the nationís most well-known service academy, hosts its annual Reception Day (R-Day) and welcomes around 1,200 new cadet candidates. Getting accepted into any of the five highly competitive military service academies, The United States Military Academy (West Point), Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy or the Coast Guard Academy is a great accomplishment. The opportunity to earn one of the most prestigious degrees in our country doesnít come easy, but for those with a desire to serve our country with utmost honor itís worth the extra effort.

Benefits of a Service Academy

There are a number of compelling reasons why a student may choose a military service academy over a traditional college or university. First and foremost, in addition to earning a Bachelor of Science degree, graduates automatically enter their chosen branch of the military as an officer. How many of todayís college students are awarded a job once they graduate? Whatís more, in exchange for signing up for five years of active duty, students receive free tuition, room and board, books and medical and dental expenses while attending the academy.

Scoring an Athletic Scholarship

In addition to a rigorous and challenging academic course load, cadets also develop mental, emotional and physical strength to prepare for their upcoming role as an officer. Alumni also become part of a nationwide network that provides exclusive career resources and support for those who wish to expand their opportunities beyond the military after required years of active duty.

Admissions

If your child is serious about wanting to attend a military academy, youíll need to start thinking about the application process during the early years of high school. The basic requirements are that applicants must be a U.S. citizen between 17 and 23 years old (25 for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy), not married or pregnant and have no dependents. Students will have to take the SAT and/or ACT as well as a medical examination administered by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board and a physical fitness test.

In addition to stellar grades and participation in sports and other impressive extracurricular and leadership activities, candidates will also need an official congressional letter of recommendation (except those applying to the Coast Guard). For those who make it to the final of the application process, there is typically a face-to-face interview. Overall itís a grueling process, but for a good reason. Once accepted, cadets are giving up the traditional college experience and committing to at least nine years of a disciplined, military lifestyle (four years at the academy and five years of active duty). Students need to show the academy that they are truly dedicated to serving the country and willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

How to Prepare for College During High School

What happens if you've been saving with a 529 plan?

While attending a service academy may be a tradition for some families, there are also parents who are surprised when their child expresses an interest in a military career. What happens if those families have been diligently saving for college with a 529 plan but now there is a good chance that they wonít need the money? There are actually a couple of options. First, if there is a younger sibling that is planning to attend college you can simply change the beneficiary of the account. If not, you can still withdraw the funds and avoid the 10% penalty tax, thanks to the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 which provides that attendance at a U.S. military academy will be treated as a scholarship for purposes of non-qualified withdrawals from a 529 plan. However, like a scholarship, the earnings portion of the account will be taxable.

Similar to an athletic scholarship, thousands apply to military academies but only a select number are accepted. While you may have your heart set on your child attending West Point, saving with a 529 plan in the meantime might be a safe bet.

Top Benefits of 529 Plans

 

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