College Credit for Military Service & Experience

Photo by Sgt. Scott Schmidt

Active-Duty and Veterans can receive college credit for military service and save time and money at the same time. Many colleges and universities provide military transfer credit for military experience via participation through ACE (American Council on Education). ACE collaborates with the Department of Defense (DoD) to extensively review military training and experiences in order to recommend appropriate course credit to member schools. ACE then works extensively with these member institutions to educate them on translating prior military learning experiences into college credit.

Receiving college credit for military service is a great benefit but the amount of credit received can often fall below expectations. There are many factors that can contribute to this but here are the most common:

  • The desired area of study or program is different than their MOC (Military Occupation Code).
  • Military experience or training is determined to be duplicate and applied to the same transfer credit recommendation.
  • Most ACE credits typically only apply to lower level, free elective coursework such as associates degree level classes.
  • Typically very few credits apply toward core requirement, upper level course work.
  • The institution’s transfer credit policies are not transparent.
  • Ultimately colleges determine the military college credits they will accept and how they will be applied to a specific degree.
  • Colleges don’t always follow the ACE recommendations or they may interpret them differently from one school to the next.

How to maximize military service for college transfer credits

  • Review your military transcript and ACE recommendations for courses and occupations.
  • Seek a degree that is aligned closely with your MOC.
  • Determine the school’s policy on accepting military college credits. Admissions counselors or college websites typically can provide this information.
  • Seek out schools that have good veterans programs or determine how military friendly your choices are.
  • Speak to several schools. Colleges interpret military training credits differently and can apply credits differently for the same degree program and military experience. The decisions may be very different!
  • Appeal any adverse decisions on military transfer credits. Successful appeals do happen.
  • Don’t enroll before the school determines your military transfer credits.

Service members or Veterans should request a military transcript as a first step.

Military Education and Experience Systems (includes Guard & Reserves by branch):

  • Air Force – The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)
  • Army – AARTS System
  • Coast Guard – The Coast Guard Institute (CGI)
  • Marines – SMART System
  • Navy – SMART System

Veterans can access these systems unless they are not eligible. If the Veteran is not eligible they should complete the DD-295 and provide their DD-214 Discharge Document in order to receive college credit for military service.


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Military Friendly Schools & Colleges Membership Lists

The military, Department of Defense (DoD), and Veterans Affairs have a variety of programs where colleges and schools can become members.  These programs protect service members, veterans, military spouses and dependents to help ensure they receive a quality education.   Below is a list of these programs and links to the member directories of the military friendly colleges and schools that are on these lists.

Note: The U.S. Government, DoD, and Veterans Affairs or military does NOT expressly endorse or approve a school as military friendly.

ACE (American Council on Education)

Colleges and Universities that participate in ACE are experienced at translating prior military learning experiences into college credit.   ACE collaborates with the Department of Defense to review military training and experiences in order to recommend appropriate college credit.  Additionally, ACE will provide recommendations for formal courses and occupations based on an individual’s military training and experience.  Gaining college credit for military experience can help save hundreds or thousands of dollars in tuition costs.  ACE Directory

DANTES External (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support)

DANTES supports all DOD components including the Coast Guard by providing a non-traditional education environment to pursue academic and vocational goals.  Dante’s provides education alternatives to service members who cannot attend classes or schools due to work schedules, duty locations that do not permit class attendance.  High school, college, technical, or vocational courses are all available via methods such as textbooks, video, audio tapes, internet, email or TV.  Courses can be taken from schools or colleges that are part of Dante’s External. Dante’s External Directory

MyCAA (Military Career Advancement Accounts) Program

This program is for active-duty military Spouses and provides up to $4,000 (over 2 years) of Financial Assistance.  This program is limited to military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or Associate’s degree in a portable career field and occupation. MyCAA Directory

Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon program allows approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post‐9/11 GI Bill.  These additional funds do not count against GI Bill entitlements. Yellow Ribbon Directory

SOC (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges)

SOC functions in cooperation with 15 higher education associations, the Department of Defense, and Active and Reserve Components of the Military Services to expand and improve voluntary postsecondary education opportunities for service members worldwide.  Members of SOC must provide credit for military training and experience, credit for nationally recognized testing programs, limited residency requirements and avoid excessive loss of previously earned credits. SOC Directory

VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program

The Principles of Excellence are guidelines for educational schools and institutions receiving federal military and veterans educational funding.  Participating schools agree to principles and guidelines that provide service members, veterans, spouses, and dependents with the information, support, and protections they deserve. VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program Directory

Below, we have grouped the military friendly programs as they directly apply to active-duty, veterans, military spouses and dependents.  Indirect benefits and information may still apply to all other groups.

Active Duty

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Edwards

 

  • ACE (American Council on Education)
  • DANTES External (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support)
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
  • SOC (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges)
  • VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program

Veterans

  • ACE (American Council on Education)
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
  • VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program

Military Spouses

  • MyCAA (Military Career Advancement Accounts) Program
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
  • VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program

Dependents

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
  • VA Approved – The Principles of Excellence Program

See the Military Friendly Colleges Guide for more information on selecting the best school.


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Life after the military: A Soldier’s Story About Her Pursuit for a Degree

One thing I always preached to Soldiers when I was an academic instructor in the military was to enhance the marketable skills obtained from the military with a degree. In today’s economy, employment is scarce and is very competitive.Post 9-11 GI Bill

In the early 90s, for the first four years of my military career, I was a military personnel finance and administrative assistant. My supervisor at the time stressed that I should attend a reputable college to enhance my military job training skills. I decided to take up business administration at Brookdale Community College located in a small suburban town of New Jersey.

Due to the fact I had orders overseas I was not able to complete my degree. Instead, I would take one class, two to three months at a time. However, it was still one of my long-term goals to obtain an associate degree.

After serving in the Army for nine years, I was awarded the opportunity to change my military occupational skill to become a military analyst. An analyst’s job entails a lot of critical thinking and putting pieces together to solve problems. Despite the fact that the occupation was stressful and very fast paced, I learned to get used to the demands of the job because I realized it would save lives.

US Army PentathleteWhile I was working as an analyst, I enrolled in a local community college program to further my studies in Military-Homeland Security Operations. Some of the courses I took under my previous business administration program were transferrable military credits and I earned an associate degree in the summer of 2009.

The military tuition assistance program paid for the entire program because I was still on active duty. Therefore, I did not have to use any of my GI Bill benefits. When I left the military, I wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice to work as a crime analyst, criminalist, police officer, investigator, or perhaps even work as a federal law enforcement agent.

Since I was undecided, the first step I made was to enroll at a four year University to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The Montgomery GI Bill program was reformed by Congress to the Post 911 GI Bill.

The new GI bill program provided more college and stipend benefits for military service members who served on or after September 11, 2001. Therefore, I was able to take advantage of a full four-year scholarship degree program to pursue my goals. I am now finally in my last year of studies and working with both the Wounded Warrior Project and Vocational Rehabilitation program employment readiness counselor to assist me with my job placement needs.


2013 Online Military Friendly Colleges

A list of 2013 top online military friendly colleges for active-duty, veterans, military spouses and dependents. Online degree programs provide flexibility with lifestyle and location which can be very important to active-duty, reserves or veterans they look to make a career transition. Military spouses can benefit while juggling family and re-assignments to new locations.

This list is comprised of online schools that meet our criteria.

Note: These online schools are not endorsed by any U.S. government entity including the U.S. Armed Forces or Department of Veteran Affairs.  This list is in alphabetical order and not intended to be a ranking.

2013 Top Online Military Friendly Colleges

 

American Sentinel University
Ashworth College
Azusa Pacific Online University
Baker College Online
California InterContinental University
Capella University
Central Michigan University
Colorado State University – Global Campus
Columbia Southern University
Devry University
Everest University Online
Everglades University
Florida Tech University Online
Fortis Online
Grand Canyon University
Grantham University
Herzing University Online
Jones International University
Kaplan University Online
Keiser University
Liberty University
Miller-Motte College Online
Northcentral University
Penn Foster College
Post University
Rasmussen College
Saint Leo University Online
University of Phoenix
Walden University
Western Governors University


2013 Online Military Friendly Colleges Methodology

The Online Military Friendly Colleges list is based on schools meeting at least 3 of the criteria requirements below and offering 100% online degrees. This list is not a ranking, only a list of online colleges that meet the criteria requirements. If there is a school that you feel should be included on this list please contact us and we will add them to the list should they meet at least 3 of the requirements below.

For more information about this criteria see our Military Friendly Colleges Guide.

Criteria (minimum of 3)

  • Provides tuition discounts for veterans, military active-duty, military spouse and/or dependents
  • Provides scholarships for veterans, military active-duty, military spouse and/or dependents
  • Waive the application fee and/or books for veterans, military active-duty, military spouse and/or dependents
  • Change of Order friendly policy for active-duty or reserve military
  • College Level Examinations Program (CLEP) acceptance
  • Accepts Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)
  • School has veterans and active duty specialized counselors
  • Website contains military and/or veterans specific information
  • Accepts ACE credit for military training and experience
  • Provides military branch specific support
  • Participates in these Programs:
        • DANTES external
        • Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) Program
        • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
        • Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
        • Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
        • Service members Opportunity Colleges Consortium member (SOC)
        • The Post-9/11 GI Bill
        • VA Approved – Participant of Principles of Excellence Program
        • Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
        • Veterans Retraining Assistance Program
        • Yellow Ribbon Schools Program


Military Offers at Online Colleges & Universities

Service members and veterans have many education benefit options provided by the government, but that isn’t always enough to pay for all college or university costs. Listed below are some of the best online colleges and universities for military that offer additional support through reduced tuition rates, free books, scholarships, and other options. Many institutions also offer financial aid for military spouses.

American Sentinel University – Special military tuition rates for active duty and non active duty, as well as scholarship opportunities for active duty, honorably discharged veterans, military auxiliary units, and most military spouses. Also waives application fee.

Azusa Pacific Online University – Participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and is a Service members Opportunity College to offer military and veteran students help in covering tuition expenses. This includes tuition discount for active duty servicemembers and spouses of active duty or reservists.

California Miramar University – Military spouses can receive 50% off the tuition for the degree program.

Capella University – For service members, Capella offers 15% tuition reduction on undergraduate programs, 10% tuition reduction on graduate programs, and transfer credit for military training and experience. Capella University also participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.


Central Michigan University – Military tuition reduction for active duty, guard, reserve, retirees, spouses, and DoD civilian employees.

Colombia Southern University – All service members receive an application fee waiver. Spouses or dependents of active duty military or Veterans will receive the waiver and a ten percent tuition discount. Colombia Southern University also includes transfer credit for military training.

Colorado State University Online Plus – Tuition reductions are available to military personnel admitted to a College of Business (10%) or College of Engineering (15%) online degree program.

Everglades University – Provides military training credit, accepts CLEP, is a member of SOC, MYCAA, and Yellow Ribbon Program. Provides assistance with VA benefits and Tuition Assistance (TA).

Florida Institute of Technology Online – To offset any costs military tuition assistance may not cover, Florida Tech is now offering active-duty service members, Reservists, Guardsmen, Veterans, spouses, and dependents of disabled or deceased Veterans a special tuition price on all graduate programs.

Grantham University – Grantham University provides military education scholarships for Service Members, Veterans, family members, first responders, and many others for those who qualify.

Keiser University – Scholarship opportunities for qualified service members, veterans, and military dependents.  Military training considered for college credit.

Keller Graduate School of Management – Military personnel serving in any of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (including guard and reserve personnel) and their spouses are eligible for Keller’s Graduate School of Management military pricing. The benefit is not applicable to CPA and CFA exam-preparation coursework.  You may also be eligible to transfer qualifying military coursework and other post-secondary education credits toward your Keller graduate education.

Liberty University – Military service members, veterans, and military spouses (as defined in 1 U.S.C. § 7) are eligible for tuition reductions, book vouchers, fee waivers, and the Heroes Fund Scholarship.

Post University – Post University is VA approved, accepts College Level Examination Program (CLEP), gives credit for DSST exams, accepts ACE for military training credit, offers scholarships and tuition reductions for active-duty military, veterans, and military dependents. It is also aYellow Ribbon program and Service members Opportunity Colleges Consortium (SOC) member.

Regent University – Regent offers a 15% tuition award to spouses and dependent children of active military, reservists, National Guard, and those in public service positions. This award is also available to spouses or dependent children of retired active duty, reservists, or Guardsmen.

Robert Morris University – VA approved university, accepts CLEP, is a part of DANTES, accepts ACE for military training credit, offers tuition and scholarships for military students, veterans, and military dependents. It is also a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program and MyCAA. Has an ROTC program and specialized veteran and military advisors.

Remington College Online – Military financial aid & veterans’ benefits, any students are eligible for GI Bill benefits and/or tuition assistance. It is a Yellow Ribbon Program member.

Saint Leo University – Long-standing military heritage, enrollment counselors who will help navigate military specific items, offers scholarship and special tuition rates for active duty military and veterans, in-state tuition to active duty military, member of the MyCAA and Yellow Ribbon Programs, participates in ROTC.

Tiffin University – Tiffin offers scholarships for military student and veterans, special tuition rates, in-state tuition without residency requirements for active duty military and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, Service members Opportunity Colleges Consortium member (SOC), and ROTC.

Trident University – Trident University offers discounted tuition and accepts military transfer credits. Service men and women may also be able to earn up to 28 semester credits (7 courses) per fiscal year toward a Bachelor or Master’s degree at no cost.

University of Phoenix – Special military tuition rates for active duty and their spouses, financing and GI Bill benefits plus credit for your military experience.

University of Louisville
Discounted tuition rates for active duty military and reserve component service members.

Western International University – WIU is VA approved, accepts College Level Examination Program (CLEP), offers special tuition rates for active duty military, veterans and military dependents, full-time veterans counselors available and member of Yellow Ribbon and MYCAA programs.

If you know of another online school that belongs on this list, please let us know!


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