Originally Answered: What's the best way to join the military and still have a college degree?
I recently got out of the Air Force so I'll give you the information that I know. You're correct that there are a number of ways of going about entering the military and obtaining a degree.
If your son wants to pursue his degree now then he should look into a ROTC program. This program allows the individual to go to school on the militarys dollar, while having specific requirements of them during the four year process. Its sort of a premilitary training experience. He will be required to keep up with physical requirements, at the school I go to now one day a week they wear their dress uniform to class and he will be required to attend specific functions. When he has completed his degree he will then owe the military 4-6 years of his time but he will be an Officer in the armed forces rather than enlisted personnel. Biggest benefit here...once hes finished school he'll be paid as an Officer.
Another option is to enlist and sign up the Montgomery GI Bill, also referred to as MGIB or just GI Bill. He can enlist for 4-6 years and while at basic training he can choose to sign up for the GI Bill. During the first year of his enlistment $100 a month will be automatically withdrawn from his paycheck and put into an education fund, at the end of his enlistment he can then go to school using the money from this fund. I know that $1200 doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but the return is fabulous. Those who have signed up and contributed to the MGIB currently have around $40,000 to go to school with. You can go to almost any college or trade school. Once he is accepted to the Univ. he will need to go to the VA office, usually right next to the financial aid office, and fill out some paperwork. When all is said and done he will receive a monthly stipend of $1075 in order to pay for his schooling or living expenses. Most schools will extend the due date for their tuition and fees knowing that the GI Bill pays in the rear so that he will have the entire semester to pay the school what its owed. Keep in mind that while your son is enlisted he can also take classes, online or at the local college, and the service will pay for 100% tuition up to appx $4500 a year. If he has signed up for the GI Bill he can then 'top off' meaning he can tap into his GI Bill money to pay for anything above and beyond the $4500 a year. Also, your son will only have one opportunity to sign up for the GI Bill. If he chooses not to hes out the $40000 to go to school. There is no changing of the mind, no I meant to, nothing, he has to sign up for it while in basic training or hes out.
The last option that I can think of is to join the Guard or Reserves. This is something that I'm not very familiar with but my understanding is that they allow you to use GI Bill money without having you pay into it. I'm not sure how you pay this back or if you will then owe the military time but it is something that the two of you can look into together.
Good luck to you and your son!