As you consider exercising your graduate school option, here are some things to think about:

  1. Consider the costs in tuition and foregone benefits that you would incur by pursuing graduate education outside of the Army. For example, in 2012, out of state tuition and fees for the University of Georgia's MBA program total $31,154 a year. Tuition and fees at Harvard Business School total $57,590. When you include the additional military pay and benefits that will accrue while you attend school, the GRADSO option has been valued at $250,000. Officers who accept the option incur a standard ACS obligation of three days ADSO for every one in school.

  2. Earning your graduate degree via GRADSO allows you to transfer the educational benefits that you have earned through the Post 9/11 GI Bill to members of your family. This benefit will cover the entire cost of a child's four year college education at any school (provided it does not exceed the tuition cost of the most costly state university).

  3. Consider the holistic benefits of graduate education, as well as two years of stability for your family at a school of your choice. Also remember that your two years of graduate school are active duty time and move you closer to both your next promotion and retirement, all while accruing leave, drawing BAH, receiving full pay and health insurance, etc.

  4. Your graduate degree will strengthen your talents, making you more competitive both inside and outside of the Army.

  5. Talk to your branch assignments officer about when to attend graduate school. As you make plans to exercise your graduate school option, make coordination of your efforts with your assignments officer a top priority. He or she will help you to incorporate graduate school into your unique Army career path. They will also ensure assignment instructions and orders are issued on your behalf. They can't help you if you don't reach out to them, however. Remember - be proactive. Ensure that, at a minimum, you have an agreed start date no later than a year prior to the academic year to allow time for the application process. Officers generally attend between the sixth and eleventh year of service, but HRC may grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Graduate school represents a tremendous leap in your personal development. It demonstrates a commitment to learning that will serve you well in your Army career and beyond. If you have any questions you can find contact information for several professionals who can answer your questions in the Points of Contact tab on the CSP website.