Statistically, individuals with a college degree earn a significantly higher salary than those without and service members are no exception. Military members face many challenges while trying to juggle duty commitments, family obligations, and pursuit of personal education goals — but a focused effort can lead to advancement opportunities while serving and a successful career after transitioning into the civilian workforce. Two significant challenges of degree completion are identifying flexible academic programs that allow members to meet the high demands of a military career and making responsible financial decisions while pursuing an education.
For more than 40 years, DANTES has led in the delivery of quality education program that help make military members better at their jobs today and more effective as citizens of tomorrow. DANTES programs and services help deliver education solutions designed to save time and money, thereby driving a member’s academic success. The following programs are available at no cost or reimbursable to active duty, Guard, and Reserve component members (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard). Some of the programs are even available to Defense Department (DoD) civilians and eligible military family members.
Additional information on the following DoD voluntary education programs can be found on the DANTES website.
College Admission Exams
Many colleges require students to submit test results as part of the college admission application process. These tests may also be required for entry into an officer accession program or military-sponsored academy. DANTES’ college admission exams include the ACT, SAT, GMAT and GRE. If reimbursed by DANTES, the cost savings ranges from approximately $40 for the ACT to $250 for the GMAT. Visit DANTES website for more information on testing and reimbursements.
College Credit by Examination
The CLEP and DSST exams allow military members to earn college credit by simply demonstrating, through testing, the knowledge and skills they’ve already acquired . Although the exams are different, both offer the same end result – providing college credit that can be used towards a college degree without sitting in a classroom. Members of the military can save money and decrease the time it takes to earn a degree. DANTES funds the CLEP and DSST exams at National Test Centers (NTCs) located on and off base, around the world. Learn more about the CLEP and DSST programs.
College and Career Planning
Developing a plan for pursuing a career or college degree is definitely one way to help save both time and money. Kuder Journey provides an intuitive career planning system designed to address individual skills and interests. The career planning process starts with learning about oneself through research-based interests, skills and work value assessments to encourage optimal career satisfaction. Members will receive a personal career plan customized with options for future career occupations, counseling to help plan for transition, and recommended pathways for individual education goals. The Kuder Journey program is a motivational tool to follow and helps eliminate wasted time and money on unnecessary classes that may not fit into a suggested or desired career path. College and career planning helps develop a list of what needs to be done and ultimately keeps the member on track with an end goal in mind. Click here for more information on Kuder Journey.
College Comparison Tool
TA DECIDE is a Defense Department (DoD) tool created to help military members with choosing the right college for their individual needs. The tool is online and easily accessible, with thousands of schools to choose from. Each school has been vetted by the DoD to ensure quality and value for both a member’s time and money. Plus, all schools are eligible for military tuition assistance (TA). When a college has already met quality-driven criteria and is eligible for TA, members cannot help but save time and money. See more details about TA DECIDE.
Military Training and Experience Evaluations
Military members can use what they know from their past training and military experiences to get college credit. Talk about saving time and money! The Defense Department partners with the American Council on Education (ACE) to translate military learning experiences into comparable civilian postsecondary college credit. The Joint Service Transcript (JST) capitalizes on an individual’s military knowledge by documenting occupational experience and training and translating that information into ACE-recommended college credit. This “credit for prior learning” can be used to help reduce the amount of time it takes to complete degree requirements and may serve as a guide for developing resumes or career portfolios.
Members can request a free JST online or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Air Force members can request a transcript through Air University.
SOC Degree Network System
The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Degree Network System (DNS) is comprised of colleges and universities that have adopted specific DoD Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) policies to ensure military members earn college degrees that meet certain quality standards. Academic institutions within the network offer two-way guaranteed transferability, require limited academic residency, and offer a contract-for-degree to protect you, the student, from changes to degree requirements over time. These benefits also remain in effect when leaving the military before graduating. Degree completion with SOC DNS can undoubtedly save time and money. Become familiar with SOC DNS by clicking here.
SOC Career and Technical Education
For several career fields in the military, different types of certification are extremely beneficial to professional development, career progression and civilian transition. The SOC Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offers credit-bearing certificate programs in CTE fields with bright employment outlooks for those on active duty and for those preparing for transition. The CTE program can assist with identifying CTE pathways to a civilian career with positive growth potential. These certificates can stand alone or can be integrated into associate or bachelor’s degrees offered by the institution. Saving time and money is easy with SOC CTE.
Everyone going to school can use help in one subject or another and tutoring help can be costly. But that’s not true for eligible military members using the DoD tutoring services. This no-cost tool is accessible online and provides one-to-one, anonymous assistance from an expert staff of teachers and education professionals. Tutoring is offered in 40+ college subjects in all skill levels, on-demand or scheduled, anytime and anywhere there is Internet access. Check out all the advantages of using this great tool.
Academic Skills Training
According to the U.S. Department of Education, about a third of American students require remedial education in reading, writing, and math skills. Students must have the necessary knowledge and skills in math and English to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing postsecondary coursework or job training without the need for remediation. In the military, strong academic skills are needed to succeed in training and for advancement in every occupational field.
The Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) is designed to prepare members for college level coursework, by improving their skills in English and language arts, essay writing, and college level math. Education center personnel may recommend this program to ensure that members are able to successfully place into college level courses and avoid the extra time and tuition costs associated with taking non-credit bearing, developmental courses. For more information, click here.
Troops to Teachers (TTT)
Troops to Teachers was established to help transitioning military members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers in public, charter, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. The program provides counseling and referral services for participants to help meet education and licensing requirements to teach and subsequently can help secure a teaching position. If eligible, financial assistance may be provided as well. Teaching is an admirable career choice after military service and one many members may be well-suited for. Explore TTT’s program.
FEDERAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS:
Federal Financial Aid
An education is the foundation for a successful military and civilian career. The Department of Education awards about $150 billion every year to help millions of students pay for college. Through the DANTES website, members can find benefits, scholarships, federal aid, work-study funds, loans and grants that can put a college degree within reach.
Membership does have some privileges. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have tuition assistance programs available to active duty and active reserve members. Learn more by visiting DANTES website.
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) created the GI Bill Comparison Tool in 2014, making it easier for military members to make informed decisions about their postsecondary education goals. Use this resource to research colleges, universities and employers approved for the GI Bill and get estimates of GI Bill benefits, information about a facility’s value and affordability using a member’s education benefits.
The GI Bill Comparison Tool enables members to see how many veterans attend the school or training facility and view veteran student outcomes in terms of retention rate, graduation, and loan repayment rates. Average salaries for all students vs. veteran students after graduation can be compared to the national average. A potential student will also find estimates for tuition, housing allowance, book stipend benefit payments, information on accreditation, and review student complaint history. The VA offers this resource as a way to empower veterans by arming them with the information they need to navigate the volume of choices. Learn more about the GI Bill Comparison Tool.