5 Veterans’ Programs That Will Expedite Your College Degree

Veterans who have devoted time and energy to serving their country are eager to begin pursuing personal and educational goals in the civilian world. Obtaining a college degree is a great way to do this, and accomplishing this goal will allow you to jumpstart your professional career. As a veteran, you may face roadblocks in pursuing higher education; however, the following five programs are available to assist you in expediting your college degree.

College Student
photo credit: Francisco Osorio

College Credit for Military Experience

Veterans entering college often struggle to relate to other first-year students who are just out of high school. Additionally, the wealth of knowledge gained during military service can leave veterans feeling overqualified for many college courses. Fortunately, certain veteran-friendly institutions will work with you to grant college credit for the experience and training you gained during your service.

The American Council on Education (ACE) will perform a review of your military experience and give a recommendation to your college regarding the credits that should be granted. Some colleges award more credit than others, so it is important to find an institution that will fully recognize the value of your experiences. Visit www.vistamilitary.com for more information on how a veteran-friendly institution will work hard to give you the credit you deserve.

College Level Exam Program

The College Level Exam Program (CLEP) is another efficient way to earn college credit. CLEP grants college credit to those who achieve qualifying scores on one or more of the 34 standardized tests available. This program saves college students valuable time and money, providing them with an opportunity to avoid unnecessary entry-level courses. A 2010 study by the Lumina Foundation for Education revealed students who utilized programs such as CLEP saved a significant amount of time and money and were more likely to graduate.

CLEP is especially useful for veterans, as the Montgomery GI Bill covers part or all of the costs involved with taking these exams. Credits from CLEP exams are accepted by most colleges and universities, and with the average college course taking three months to complete, testing out of the classes you don’t need will be a worthwhile investment.

College lecture in session
photo credit: Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Veterans Upward Bound Program

The Veterans Upward Bound Program (VUB) is designed to help former service members brush up on their academic knowledge, so they can enter college with confidence. This program is completely free and can expedite your degree by sharpening the skills you need to pass your college courses. Additionally, VUB provides assistance with the difficult processes of applying for college, landing scholarships, and securing financial aid. To qualify for this program, you must be within 181 days of active service, have been discharged on or after January 1, 1955 and meet the low-income criteria established by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Service Members Opportunity Colleges Program

Research shows that veterans make productive students and excellent employees, and colleges are beginning to understand the value of meeting the needs of student veterans. As a result, close to 1,900 colleges and universities participate in the Service Members Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium. Institutions that belong to the SOC Consortium work hard to ensure fair transfer of college credits, recognition for military training, and credit for testing programs such as CLEP.

Participating colleges must also offer reduced academic residency requirements. Specifically, these colleges may only require 25 percent of degree requirements to be completed in residence, which is extremely beneficial for National Guard and Reserve members who must frequently travel.

Online Programs

According to U.S. News and World Report, online education has recently exploded, and non-traditional students of all kinds are saving time and money by utilizing these virtual programs. With online degree programs becoming more and more available, you will be able to fit college into your life right away. Gone are the days of having to wait to pursue a degree until you are out of the National Guard or your children have grown. Consider choosing an accelerated online degree program to further expedite your degree. These programs are extremely flexible and can save you a significant amount of time and money.

Obtaining a college degree is an important step toward achieving future success. By taking advantage of these five programs, you can expedite this achievement and be well on your way to reaching your educational and career goals.