Saving for college? Use your commissary benefit

By Carole Young 

     FORT LEE, Va. – Ask young service members today why they enlisted or re-enlisted in the military and often their reply will be – education. For many young people with limited financial resources, military service has become a viable option to offset the increasing cost of a higher education. And one of the best ways college-bound service members can save for that education is by using their commissary benefit.

     With commissaries providing savings of 30 percent or more over commercial supermarkets, a family of four can save $2,400 a year by shopping regularly at a commissary. Single service members can save an estimated $800 with routine commissary shopping. That’s money in the wallet for future college expenses.

     “Commissary savings put more money in the bank,” said retired Army National Guard Col. Ron Tipa, who represents the Army National Guard as a member of DeCA’s Patron Council. “I’ve been a loyal commissary shopper for many years and I figure I’ve put two kids through college, thanks to commissary savings,” stated Tipa during a recent council meeting.

     For service members, having extra money can make a difference when it comes to making a deposit in the college savings account or paying for the balance of tuition costs and books, according to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Deborah Brian, DeCA’s senior enlisted advisor.

     “Many times the cost of a college class exceeds the $250 per course limit that tuition assistance allows and the military student must make up the difference,” Brian explained.

       “Here’s where commissary savings kick in to provide the extra money a student needs to fund the additional costs and, hopefully, keep young service members from digging deeper into their pockets to pay for the extras.

     “Awesome savings can be found on items that young service members routinely purchase in convenience stores . . . such as chips, produce, soda, snack foods, over-the-counter medicines, shampoo, disposable razors and shaving cream, to name a few,” Brian added. “And you never know when a favorite item might be even less because it’s on sale.” Special sales and “Manager Specials” provide shoppers with savings beyond the 30 percent that commissaries normally provide.

     So, for food, health and beauty products, head to your commissary and put the savings in the bank for your college education.



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