of the enlisted force have high school diplomas (over 95 percent), as
indicated in Table 3.7. In FY 2000, 98 percent of female and 95 percent
of male enlisted personnel were high school diploma graduates (Tier 1).
These results are very similar to FY 1999. Other trends that continue
are that there were fewer people with no credentials in the military than
in the civilian labor force (less than 1 versus 12 percent), and fewer
people with college experience (27 versus 56 percent). This latter comparison
is misleading because enlisted occupations are generally comparable to
civilian occupations that do not require college degrees. Most military
members with college degrees are officers (97 percent of officers have
undergraduate or advanced degrees). The education levels of the officer
corps are discussed in Chapter 4.
The Army and Marine Corps each had roughly 95 percent of high school diploma graduate enlisted members in FY 2000. The Navy dropped slightly from 94 percent in FY 1999 to 92 percent in FY 2000. Almost all Air Force members held diplomas (99+ percent). The Navy had the largest proportion without at least a high school diploma (6 percent). The Air Force had the smallest proportion (two-tenths of one percent).
The Services encourage enlisted members to continue their education while in the military. Many college-level classes and degree programs are offered on military installations around the world. A new program, Army University Access Online, facilitates enrollment in college-level distance learning courses, assists soldiers in securing course credit for military training, and aids participants in earning degrees. In-service tuition assistance programs pay 75 percent of tuition costs. Members also can use the Montgomery GI Bill to cover the majority of the cost of off-duty college and technical courses.[footnote 9] The investment in continuing education is a sound one. Enlisted personnel who used tuition assistance had higher promotion rates and stayed in the service longer than those who did not.[footnote 10]
[footnote 9] Department of Defense, Biennial Report to Congress on the Montgomery GI Bill Education Benefits Program (Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [Force Management Policy], May 1998).[back to paragraph]
[footnote 10] See Boesel, D. and Johnson, K., The DoD Tuition Assistance Program: Participation and Outcomes (Arlington, VA: Defense Manpower Data Center, May 1988).[back to paragraph]