Going Back to School after the Military
News Finding a school that provides the best value for military members and veterans can be a daunting task.
There are many factors to consider when deciding which school is the best fit for you. Degree options, the school’s policy for accepting military experience credits, accreditation and the cost of tuition are all things a military student needs to consider. There are thousands of schools that can be considered military friendly, but the trick is to find the school that offers exactly what you need, in a way that fits your lifestyle. The best way to determine whether or not a school is right for you is to start by speaking to college admissions advisors. Each school will have admissions advisors that concentrate solely on military students, mainly because there are many more factors to take into consideration when a military service member is looking for the school they want to settle into. When speaking with a military admissions advisor keep in mind four specific categories of questions: Tuition and fees, accreditation and associations, non-traditional credit options and general course information.
Tuition and fees
"There are thousands of schools that can be considered military friendly, but the trick is to find the school that offers exactly what you need, in a way that fits your lifestyle."
Ask your military advisor for an exact breakdown of the per-credit tuition cost, lab fees, administrative fees and any other fees you would need to know about. Remember, if you plan on using any military tuition assistance program, there will be limits to the types of fees that are covered, so having an exact breakdown of cost will help you determine how much will be covered by your TA program. In most cases TA is capped at $250 per semester credit hour. Also take into consideration any additional programs you may qualify for at the school. Many schools offer scholarships, discounts, fee waivers or book and tuition vouchers for military and veteran students.
Accreditation and associations
Accreditation is probably the most important factor in deciding which college to attend. In order to be eligible for the GI bill and tuition assistance, the educational institution must be either regionally or nationally accredited. In order to assure you are attending a legitimate school, and that your degree will be valid upon graduation, national and regional accreditation is a must. In addition to the school’s accreditation, any associations that the school may belong to can help determine the legitimacy of the program. A school that belongs to the Service Members Opportunities Colleges Association or is listed in the DANTES distance learning catalog generally shows a commitment to serving service members and veterans. If you are planning on using your GI bill be sure to ask if the VA has certified the school for GI bill eligibility.
Non-traditional credit options
Many schools have a policy that grants the American Council on Education’s recommended academic credits for military experience and the College Level Examination Program. Programs such as CLEP can save a military student time and money, but not every school offers full credit for the programs. Some limit how the credits can be applied toward your degree.