By Kevin Flynn
College credit for military service
A good way to leverage service in the military is to take advantage of the educational benefits associated with serving.
In addition to the GI Bill which may pay up to $51,000 in benefits, soldiers, sailors and marines may be able to earn college credit for knowledge acquired while on the job.
First there are ACE credits.
The American Council on Education (ACE) has a guide that evaluates the educational experiences in the Armed Services. ACE recognizes the knowledge that is acquired in the military and recommends credits for college(s).
How does ACE work?
Each school or university has transfer policies on military credit. They vary by school.
Some award credit for training courses, others for occupational specialties. The school will look at your military transcript and make a ruling on what credit they will give.
The more a major matches the experience of the soldier or sailor the better the odds of receiving credit.
Here is an example: If a soldier took a medical specialist course, a college faculty review team would look at the training materials and the learning outcomes. The review team then would recommend credits. These credits could be 2 semester hours of nursing, at the baccalaureate level and maybe 3 hours of physiology at the associate degree level.
ACE has a PDF transfer guide to help veterans understand ACE credits and recommendations.
Next there are College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. For $77 a veteran can take a CLEP exam. This cost is far lower than enrolling in a typical 3-credit course.
If the score is high on the exam then credit is earned. Each college has a CLEP policy, not every school accepts these credits, but for those that do students can earn from 3 to 12 college credits.
Combining the ACE credits with the CLEP exams can accelerate the degree process and greatly reduce both the time and cost required to earn a degree.
A veteran might be able to use these tools to get up to 2 years of college credit.
Obviously not everyone will be able to do so, but even if a veteran can get some credit the savings is significant. For example say a veteran earned 48 credit hours using ACE and CLEP, what would this mean to someone unfamiliar with higher education?
The answer is a great deal. If a typical course is 3 credits and costs between $1,000 and $4000, the savings at this level amount to approximately sixteen courses and $16,000 – $64,000 in savings.
Sixteen courses could equate to over one semester of work, room and board, textbooks, student fees, and the opportunity cost of not working full time.
Another value of these credits is that they open up a student’s schedule for learning new skills and knowledge instead of rehashing prior learning.
Both the CLEP and ACE education credits require some work on the part of the veteran. However, the potential savings in time and money is well worth the effort.
As a veteran it makes a lot of sense to leverage your experience to earn your d