Saint Leo e-book answers questions servicemembers and veterans have about choosing the right online degree program and getting started using valuable education benefits.

Saint Leo alumnus Donald Baker has served in two branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Immediately after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy and served proudly for eight years. Three years after being honorably discharged, he joined the Army Reserves and then was accepted into the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) program.

Donald continues to serve today as a staff sergeant and aviation operations specialist, but is looking forward to retiring in a few months after a military career that has spanned more than 20 years.

Because Donald took advantage of his military education benefits to earn a college degree while he was on active duty, he is well prepared to start his life as a civilian. He plans to use his degree to work in the criminal justice system helping troubled youth.

Saint Leo courses suit military lifestyle

Donald started college at Saint Leo's Fort Eustis Education Office in Virginia when he was stationed at the nearby 5/159 General Aviation Support Battalion. Determined to complete his degree with Saint Leo, he switched to online courses with the Center for Online Learning when he transferred to Fort Dix in New Jersey.

"I was able to use the military Tuition Assistance program to get two degrees, an associate's and a bachelor's," he says. "I always took advantage of Saint Leo's book voucher program and federal aid in the form of Pell Grants, and my student advisor kept me informed about other grants and scholarships available to military personnel.

"My entire enrollment and funding process was easier than cashing a check," he says. "Saint Leo's staff was patient and very helpful handling all the paperwork for funding. I never had to question anything."

Advice to other servicemembers

Donald advises other servicemembers and veterans who are seeking a college degree to use every available benefit the government offers.

"I highly recommend that you utilize the Tuition Assistance program before using the GI Bill®," he says. "Tuition Assistance is free money. Also ask your student advisor or financial aid department about possible state grants or scholarships for military personnel. I was able to save my entire GI Bill® and give it to my daughter so she could attend college."

*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at​gibill.

Guide for servicemembers and veterans available

For active duty, separated or retired members of the military community, taking advantage of valuable military education benefits to earn a college degree is a smart decision.

The journey begins, however, with finding the degree program that is right for you and suits your busy military or civilian lifestyle.

For those considering an online degree program, Saint Leo University has developed the e-book "Enlistment to Enrollment: Earning Your College Degree Online." The e-book focuses on questions you may have that are specific to your military background, as well those any prospective adult student might ask about online learning. Topics include:

  • Deciding to enroll – financial and non-financial benefits of a college degree, advantages of online programs, leveraging your military skills

  • Getting started – accreditation, criteria for evaluating programs, choosing a major, the application process

  • Paying for school – maximizing your benefits, finding scholarships and grants

Saint Leo's military heritage

Saint Leo University has been a leading provider of education services to the U.S. military for more than 40 years.

In 1973, when few options existed for active military to pursue a college degree in a manner that was conducive to their highly mobile lifestyle, Saint Leo initiated a military education program at the Avon Park Bombing Range in Florida. The initiative grew, and Saint Leo began offering full-degree programs on more military bases. Saint Leo became the first college in the nation to grant the bachelor's degree on a U.S. Air Force base.

Today Saint Leo educates men and women of the armed forces on 16 military bases and worldwide through the Center for Online Learning. The university is proud of its military students and remains dedicated to providing them with outstanding academic programs and personal attention.

Download free e-book

We hope you will find the information in our e-book "Enlistment to Enrollment" useful, and that it will help set you on the road toward realizing your goal of earning a college degree.

Click here to download the e-book, "Enlistment to Enrollment: Earning Your College Degree Online."

Image credits: Leslie & Kearney Graphic Design and courtesy Donald Baker