Benefits of DOD-contracted universities

by Ruth Cuevas
Stripes Europe

Being overseas doesn’t mean you have to put your education on hold. In fact, this might be a perfect opportunity for you to continue your studies. For years, the U.S. government has secured contracts with schools to provide educational programs in Europe to servicemembers and their dependents: Central Texas College (CTC), University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), and the University of Oklahoma (OU). Each school offers services, coursework, counseling and other assistance to make the most of your education while abroad. Many bases overseas have education centers, where you can usually find a representative from each school, as well as Education Support Services staff members who are there to help you navigate the confusing waters of higher education. 

Tuition assistance 

While on active duty, the military will reimburse tuition toward a certificate, associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree at a qualifying college or university. The rules for TA eligibility vary between branches of service, so it is best to speak to your Education Services Officer regarding eligibility and requirements. 

Financial aid 

Did you know that in addition to using your military benefits, you can also apply for federal aid? By completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can apply for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Student Loans and, if available, institutional scholarships. The FAFSA is completed once per academic year (i.e. August 2017-July 2018 would be the 17- 18 application year) and can be completed online as early as Oct. 1. 

Even if you currently receive Tuition Assistance (TA) or VA benefits, you may still qualify for federal or institutional funding. Once you receive federal aid, you must remain in good academic standing. To complete a FAFSA, go to For more information, contact the financial aid office at your institution. 

Host-nation language and culture tuition assistance 

Did you know that even if you do not qualify to receive TA benefits, you may still be eligible to take language and culture courses? Active-duty members can qualify for up to 12 credits of either language or culture courses for the country in which they are stationed. Visit the Education Services Officer at your local education center to get details on this program and to sign up for classes. 

Central Texas College

Since 1974, Central Texas College (CTC) has operated in Europe, providing education programs to servicemembers and their dependents. CTC offers courses toward certificates and associate degrees in the following vocational-technical (VoTech) fields: automotive mechanics, criminal justice, child development, emergency medical technology (EMT), fire protection, homeland security/emergency management, hospitality management and applied technology/military science. CTC delivers courses via face-to-face, hybrid and online formats with start dates every month. 

CTC offers a virtual mentor program for students enrolled in distance learning programs and VoTech programs. If you would like to speak to an online mentor, you can reach one at online.mentors[at]europe[dot]ctcd[dot]edu. If you are enrolled in face-to-face courses in Europe and would like to speak to an advisor, please contact Student.Services[at]europe[dot]ctcd[dot]edu

For more information about CTC in Europe or downrange, go to

University of Maryland University College 

University of Maryland University College (UMUC) offers more than 90 degrees, specializations and certificates in liberal arts and the sciences. Most locations offer face-to-face, hybrid and online instructional methods. In addition, UMUC offers field-study courses, where students can travel to locations throughout Europe while earning credits toward degrees. Some programs with UMUC can be completed entirely online. Term start dates vary to offer students additional flexibility. 

While you are a UMUC student, you are assigned an academic advisor at your designated education center. You can meet with your advisor to obtain a tentative evaluation to see how courses from previous institutions will transfer toward your degree with UMUC. UMUC has representatives across the globe, so you can continue your degree while stationed in Asia, the States or downrange. 

UMUC offers promotions several times a year that waive the $50 student application fee. Visit for more information. 

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) offers undergraduate degrees in aeronautics, aviation maintenance, technical management, aviation security and unmanned systems. If you’re looking to obtain your A&P Certificate (or A&P License), ERAU offers six courses toward an aviation maintenance certification to prepare you for the FAA examination. 

In addition to undergraduate degrees, ERAU offers master’s degrees in aeronautics, unmanned systems, human factors and aviation maintenance. Degrees are developed with industry needs in mind to provide students with the most appropriate skills and knowledge for their chosen career fields. ERAU provides different learning options to meet busy work and personal schedules, including face-to-face courses, online courses and five terms a year with start dates each month. 

For more information, visit

University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma (OU) Advanced Programs offers graduate degrees and certificates in Germany, Italy, Belgium, U.K. and Spain. OU offers three graduate programs: Master of Human Relations, Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of Education. 

OU’s programs are supported by face-to-face and online courses taught by professors from the main campus in Norman, Oklahoma who travel to Europe specifically to teach OU’s Europe students. If you are not at one of OU’s locations, you can still contact the site closest to you to enroll in OU’s programs. The University of Oklahoma does not offer face-to-face courses downrange, but online courses are available for deployed students. Degree planning is available at various locations around Europe. For more information, visit

Whether you have an education center at your location or hold virtual meetings with your advisor, these institutions are here in Europe to help servicemembers and dependents reach their educational goals. In most cases, site offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and staff can be reached by telephone or email. Not all offices have DSN numbers, but current contact information is available on each site’s homepage. 

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