The State of California Department of Veterans Affairs, also known as CalVet, provides services to more than a million and a half veterans. Among those services is something called Troops to College, created to help veterans attend California public colleges and other educational institutions.
Aimed at, but not limited to combat veterans and other military members who need to transition into civilian life, Troops to College is designed to make college life more accessible for all veterans and help them understand “the full range of curriculums and services available to veterans at California state universities”.
Troops to College works in partnership with California State University (CSU), which is dedicated in a variety of ways to helping vets and family members. CSU offers military-affiliated learners at more than 23 campuses statewide, offering over four thousand individual courses. What is the benefit of Troops to College and the partnership between CSU and CalVet?
- Veteran-focused advising, mentoring and counseling
- Financial support and advice for veterans
- Priority registration for classes
- Academic credit granted for completion of Basic Training
- Extensive opportunities in student leadership
How many people have benefitted from the CalVet/CSU partnership? Some three million military-affiliated students have graduated from the CSU system.
What Troops to College Offers
CSU campuses feature Veteran Success Centers where you can get assistance, advice, and guidance through your academic career. You can also get information on Troops to College at any of the following locations:
- Channel Islands
- Dominguez Hills
- East Bay
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Cal Maritime
- Monterey Bay
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San José
- San Luis Obispo
- San Marcos
A primary feature of Troops to College is the option for vets and their families to sign up for a course addressing veteran issues that can affect ordinary life as well as while attending school; it includes topic areas including:
- Combat stress
- Post-traumatic stress disorders
- “other issues” affecting veterans returning to civilian life
This Troops to College course isn’t just about awareness-raising; it’s taught by a combat veteran and is designed to help vets and families improve academic work, social interactions, and interpersonal skills.
The official website for Troops to College includes a page discussing options for getting credit for prior learning. Those who served may be eligible for college credit based on military experiences to help reduce the length of time it takes to get a CSU degree.
Once you have applied to and been accepted into a CSU program you will need to submit your DD Form 214 (if not already submitted) via the Cal State Apply portal on the official site. You should also expect to submit a Joint Services Transcript.
In general, you may be awarded college credit as a military-affiliated student for some or all of the following depending on circumstances:
- Baccalaureate-level course work at regionally accredited institutions
- Courses (non-collegiate instruction or experience) appropriate to the baccalaureate degree (must meet American Council on Education guidelines)
- Exams such as DSST and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
CSU campuses use the American Council on Education Online Military Guide for establishing credits for these purposes.
Depending on the campus, your experience may vary so it’s best to reach out to the Veterans Affairs contacts at the CSU campus of your choice to learn about that institution’s policies “related to credit for prior learning, as well as academic credit for external exams” according to the official site.
The Troops to College official site also includes information on how veterans, active duty military members and others can apply to CSU as an undergraduate, and on-campus programs aimed at helping military-connected learners.
These opportunities vary depending on the specific campus you attend school at. Programs listed on the Troops to College official site at press time include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:
- CSU Fullerton Women Veterans Program
- CSU San Marcos Energy System Technology Evaluation Program
- San Diego State Troops to Engineers Program
- CSU Long Beach’s Vet Net Ally Awareness Program
- San Diego State’s Military Ally Awareness Program
- CSU Fullerton’s Vet Net Ally Awareness Program
- CSU Northridge’s Joining Forces Awareness Program
Each CSU campus with a Veteran Success Center can provide more information about opportunities at that particular campus.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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