Honoring military service for college credit

Continuing education has always been a key resource for both active and former U.S. service members and their families. It gives them access to increased earning potential, leverages their military experience and education, and gives them a new direction once they’ve completed their service.

For service members in particular, pursuing a degree might mark the culmination of the time and effort they’ve already put into their military service. Many service members come to college with far more “life experience” than the average student, and in some cases are also ahead of the game academically.

That makes it all the more surprising that an estimated one in five institutions of higher education don’t give academic credit for military education, according to a survey by the American Council on Education. Thirty-six percent of schools also don’t credit military occupational training.

There are many colleges out there that will carefully examine each service member’s military experience and look for relevant credits. At Peirce College, there is a mindset that there’s no sense in making a student repeat a course or learn something they clearly already know. It’s a key driving factor behind how hundreds of military personnel, their families, and dependents choose a place to complete their education.

Time is often a concern for service members. Using the credits an individual has earned through military service and combining these credits with any traditional college credit earned will shorten the time it takes to obtain a college degree.

If you’re a service member considering continuing your education, the first step is to request a transcript from your military branch. Each branch has its own place to request these transcripts. For example:

Available to Soldiers, Reservists, Veterans, ARNG members

Navy and Marine Corps
Sailor/Marine/ACE Registry Transcript (SMART)

Air Force
Community College of the Air Force Transcript

Air National Guard
Contact your local Education Service Officer

Coast Guard
Official USCG Transcript Request Form CGI-1564

Next, be sure to confirm that any institution you are considering is accredited by the appropriate governing body. For example, Peirce College is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Postsecondary Education maintains a database of postsecondary institutions and programs, which is a good place to start your search. Additional distinctions to look for include Yellow Ribbon Programs and schools that are Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)-approved, both of which can be found here at Peirce.

Once you have collected the necessary transcript information and identified an accredited institution, the college or university you’re applying to will then review the transcripts submitted and provide a credit evaluation. From there, the admissions or financial aid department can work with you to determine how elements such as your class schedule and payment plan can be structured to best fit your lifestyle and needs.

When it comes to tuition costs, there are many resources available to help military service members and their families with the cost of completing their education, including federal grants and programs such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Be sure to ask your school what scholarships or grants might be available to you for your service.