Mission Tuition: using a military stint to make money for college

Anthony Exsted joined the Marine Corps to get a higher education. "I didn't have the discipline to stick with college [right out of high school]," Exsted says. "I figured I'd do that rather than rush into school and drop out my freshman year."

Exsted decided to wait until he returned from his deployment in Djibouti to enroll in classes. He spent a year studying in North Dakota before transferring to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The Marine Corps pays for up to 60% of his tuition, room, board and books. "I took the safest route and waited until I was done with all of my training so I could just go to school and put all of my time and energy into it," he says.

Prospective students scrambling to come up with tuition funds often sign a contract with the military to help pay their freight. The military grants members an opportunity to serve their country and a chance at a higher education, but it comes with drawbacks.