Use Your GI Benefits to Pursue a Career in the Culinary Arts
Are you thinking about a career in the culinary arts after serving in the military? Did you know that you can use your GI Bill® for culinary school and start your education online, even while you’re still on active duty?
The Boulder, Colorado campus at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is a 2020-2021 Military Friendly® school and the only accredited culinary school in the U.S. that offers 100% online degrees and diplomas with industry externships. As such, our staff is trained to support military and veteran students with the unique challenges they may face. So no matter where in the world you may be deployed (or living a busy lifestyle if you’re a veteran), you, your spouse, or your children can get the training you need from one of the most-recognized names in the culinary world.
Lance McWhorter, a military veteran and Escoffier’s online culinary graduate, who is formerly an Executive Chef and owner of McGarity’s Saloon in Texas, and currently an Executive Chef and owner of Culture ETX in Tyler, TX, as well as Food Network’s “Chopped” former contestant, says:
“I was excited to find an online culinary program. When I first started school I was working 80- to 100-hour weeks as an Executive Chef, and it actually worked within my schedule.”
This article will help you understand how you can pay for it with the GI Bill® and other grants.
In this guide, we cover a variety of financing options available to qualifying active military, vets and their spouses and children, including an explanation of the most common GI Bills®. In addition, there are several special grants for qualifying military and their dependents that are available directly from Escoffier schools.
If you have questions, be sure to contact one of our Financial Aid representatives to better understand the loans and grants you or your spouse can access.
Why Do Military Veterans Make Such Great Chefs?
It’s true: for many reasons, those who have served in the military also serve up great food.
The military attracts a very special kind of individual: they’re adventurous but like routines. They’re independent thinkers but also understand the value of teamwork. They’re not afraid to lead but also understand the importance of following a leader. They’re willing to take calculated risks in order to succeed. They like to serve others…and they love a good challenge.
But it’s the structure of professional kitchens themselves that gives people with a military background a distinct advantage over their peers. The “kitchen brigade” system, used by top professional kitchens everywhere, was created by our school’s namesake, Auguste Escoffier, who was a soldier himself.
The Kitchen Brigade: Familiar to Military Vets for a Reason
Auguste Escoffier’s system involved a high level of discipline, structure and respect. The uniform, system of communication, assignment of duties, chain of command – all of these Escoffier adopted from his military experience…and for good reason. Efficiency, speed, and teamwork are all paramount in a busy restaurant or commercial kitchen.
Our veteran students and alumni tell us that they appreciate this sort of structure. In fact, veterans excel under the brigade rules and routines.
Just like a great military unit, a great kitchen has a structured hierarchy based on the level of skill and training required for each position, with opportunities to advance along the way if you want to climb in the ranks. There are also plenty of opportunities for steady, reliable employment if you want stability in your work life.
Many former soldiers also tell us that the small classes at our Austin and Boulder campuses, as well as our online programs, suit their need for control of their environment. With our Boulder, Colorado campus designated as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly® school, we have been recognized as a school that works diligently to continuously improve the services for Veteran and Active Military Students.
Ryan Hodros, a former member of the U.S. Navy and an Escoffier graduate, explains his experience:
“When I first got out of the Navy, I immediately attended Colorado University and quickly discovered that lecture-style courses are hard. Not because the material is difficult, or because the school itself is flawed, but simply because being surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of strangers (between me and the exits) was much more stressful than I expected.”
“My first weeks at Escoffier, by contrast, were as personal as you can reasonably get in an education. There were 14 students in our class, plenty of one-on-one time with Chef Suzanne, and a relaxed yet structured environment where you knew what you were supposed to be doing at all times.”
How to Get Started with the GI Bill® for Culinary School
We strongly recommend that you apply for your GI benefits for culinary school early…and apply online. The online application is generally faster and more efficient.
If you’re still on active duty, you might have an education services office on your base or ship, and they can walk you through the application process. Ask them to help you set up an online account, or contact our Admissions staff to get started.
The application can take over a month to be reviewed, accepted and funded, so be sure to get moving as soon as you’ve decided on your college.. You don’t want any roadblocks to getting your next career started.
You’ll also need to start your application to our school. We recommend that you contact an Admissions representative to have them walk you through our school’s application process.
Remember: under 2017’s “Forever GI Bill®,” if you left the military after January 1, 2013, there’s no time limit on when you can use your GI Bill® benefits. But if you left the military before then, you have to use your Post-9/11 GI Bill® within 15 years of your last 90-day period of active duty service.
Here are the Most Common GI Bills Used to Pay for Culinary School
The following GI Bills can be used for training at our culinary school, whether it’s at our Austin or Boulder campus residential programs, or with a Boulder distance learning program. Keep in mind that some of these funds only apply to service members who have entered the military before or after certain dates. Also be sure to check with Veterans Affairs or our Financial Aid office to clarify your funding eligibility. We’re here to help.
Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – Chapter 30
Whether you’re an Active Member of the Armed Forces or a Reservist, the MGIB can provide a monthly education benefit to you when you attend our school. These funds go straight to your bank account, and you’ll have to pay your tuition, housing and school supply expenses yourself.
Please let us know if you’re waiting on MGIB funds…we need to know if there’s a delay in receiving your award that prevents you from paying your tuition on time.
At present, if you entered the service after 2013 and already applied for your MGIB, you can’t change your application to access the Post-9/11 GI Bill® (Chapter 33), except under special circumstances. There is an appeal process you can follow, either by contacting the VA office or asking one of our Financial Aid officers for assistance.
Post-9/11 GI Bill – Chapter 33
The Post-9/11 GI Bill® shares many of the same benefits as the Montgomery bill and is an accepted use of GI funds for our culinary school. If you apply for this benefit, you have to give up your MGIB benefits, and at present that decision can’t be reversed. Be sure to check with our Financial Aid office or the VA office if you’re considering switching to this benefit.
This fund entitles you to 36 months of post-secondary education, and it doesn’t have to be used all at once. The funds, unlike the Montgomery grant, go directly to the school, which many students find more convenient. It’s also transferable within your family, which is another benefit active members and veterans appreciate. Just keep in mind that funds are required to be transferred prior to leaving the military.
The Yellow Ribbon Program within this bill gives students expanded access to funds for housing and school supplies. Be sure to check with our Financial Aid office to see if the Yellow Ribbon Program can supplement your GI Bill® funding, especially if you decide to attend our campus in Austin or Boulder.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) – Chapter 32
The VEAP is available to service members who opted to make monthly contributions from their military paycheck into the fund. The government matches your contributions on a 2-for-1 basis, and they can be used for training at our culinary school.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance – Chapter 35
This fund is dedicated to veterans who survived circumstances such as capture or a permanently debilitating injury. It may also be used by dependents between the ages of 14 and 31, or a surviving spouse. If you’re faced with having to leave military service, or you’re a spouse having to re-enter the workforce, this funding option can get you on the right track.
It’s best to consult with Veterans Affairs or our Financial Aid office to establish if you’re entitled to this benefit.
Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) – Chapter 1606
If you’re a member in good standing of the Selected Reserve – including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Reserves, the Army National Guard, or the Air National Guard – you may be eligible for MGIB-SR and may qualify to receive Tuition Assistance from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. This may apply to on-campus or online programs.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA)
We’re proud to support MyCAA, a program dedicated to providing financial support to spouses of active service members. Your spouse may be eligible for up to $4,000 over two years to pursue an education with us in the culinary arts.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Grants
Our culinary school also offers grants to qualifying service members, their spouses and dependents. Please talk to one of our Financial Aid officers to explore your options for the following grants:
Students who are on active duty may qualify for a $1,000 grant towards tuition and educational expenses. This includes Active Duty, Drilling National Guard, and Drilling Reservist Service Members. It can’t be used in conjunction with any other institutional grant and/or scholarship, so be sure to clarify whether or not this grant will suit your overall financial needs.
We’re pleased to provide a $1,000 grant to select, honorably discharged Veterans of the U.S. Military in order to make their culinary education more affordable. Please check with our Financial Aid office to find out if you qualify for this grant – again, it can’t be used in conjunction with any other grants and/or scholarships. Our staff can explain your financing options.
Veterans Spouse or Dependent Grant
There are opportunities for spouses and/or dependents of honorably discharged Veterans of the U.S. Military to get financial aid through this $500 grant. Please consult our Financial Aid staff to find out if this grant applies to your family circumstances.
Alright, I’m Convinced…So Where Do I Start?
Whether you’re still on active duty, or you’ve been living civilian life for a while and want a different career, the best place to start is by contacting us. We can explain all the options available to you…not just how to pay for your education, but all the possibilities once you have your education. We pride ourselves on supporting all of our graduates…our commitment to you doesn’t end when you graduate.
Tiffany Moore, Escoffier’s online culinary graduate and Chef & co-owner of Event Hall @ Cascade in Atlanta, GA, wanted to open her own restaurant after serving for 11 years in the United States Army:
“The management portion is where Escoffier really helped me to learn how to run a restaurant, run a cafe or run a business. And that’s what I want. I want my own restaurant.”
You’ve served in the military and know what it takes to work hard…and work smart. The GI Bill® gives you amazing benefits to help you get going on your next career. That career just might start with a degree or diploma from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.
And we know that you have something special to offer. As Vietnam veteran John Garcia summed up so wisely:
“For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.”
That flavor should be shared in kitchens across America and around the world.
If you’re still on active duty, check in with the education services office on your base, visit the Veterans Affairs website for information, get your application started, or talk to us. We’re all here to help you embark on your new career path, no matter where that path might take you.
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