College-bound veterans have a lot on the line when they enroll in a degree program. They have a fixed amount of education benefits so enrolling in the right program from the start is crucial.
Connecting with the Veteran Affairs Coordinator at prospective colleges and universities is the most efficient way to get all military-related questions answered.
The following are 6 questions prospective student veterans should ask Veteran Affairs Coordinators to determine exactly how the school assists military-related students and if it would be a good fit:
1. Is there a full-time veteran counselor or advisor on campus?
Veteran counselors have the job of supporting veterans on their academic, personal, and career paths. Having a veteran counselor on campus is a sign that the school puts an emphasis on supporting their student veterans.
Prospective students can also find out key information from talking to the veteran counselor, like how many student veterans are currently enrolled at the university, what the popular degree programs are among military-related students, and veteran graduation rates.
2. Is there a Student Veterans of America chapter or any veteran-related clubs on campus?
SVA chapters are great resources for student veterans and offer an opportunity to connect with other like minded students on campus. Having a support system like an SVA chapter or veteran club offers military-related students a safe place where they can connect with others who have shared experiences, shared struggles, and who have similar needs when it comes to finding success on campus.
Connecting with the veteran club president would be a great place to find out more invaluable information on the school and how it serves student veterans.
3. Does your school award college credit for military experience, the CLEP, or DSST Exams? If so, who should I contact to schedule a meeting for an informal credit evaluation?
There are a few ways that you can translate the experience and knowledge that you acquired through the military into college credit. They are through your JST transcript, CLEP Exam, and DSST Exam.
This is extremely important to find out at the beginning of the college search process because starting a degree program with college credit already under your belt will save time and money. It’s important to know before enrolling exactly how those credits are awarded though. Do they go towards elective credits or will they count for actual classes that count toward your specific degree program?
4. Does your school participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program? If so, is there a limit? How much can student veterans expect to receive from Yellow Ribbon funding?
Degree-granting institutions of higher learning participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program agree to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. This is important from a financial standpoint and could save thousands of dollars in tuition-related costs.
It is important to understand that Yellow Ribbon Program schools CAN make the cost of a degree free for eligible veterans. But, that doesn’t mean that every school has the funding to make that happen. For this reason, it’s extremely important to ask what the most recent awards were to student veterans enrolled at the specific institution and what you can expect to receive if you enroll there the following semester.
5. Is your school approved to accept Tuition Assistance? If so, how much do credit hours cost for active duty personnel?
The DoD’s Tuition Assistance is a benefit for active duty personnel to help pay for their education without using their GI Bill benefit. The maximum that Tuition Assistance will pay is $250 per credit hour. Unfortunately, many schools that advertise that they are “Tuition Assistance Approved” actually charge way more than $250 per credit hour. This can be misleading as some military personnel are under the impression that Tuition Assistance Approved Schools are free for them. Not the case. That is why it’s very important to find out exactly how much each credit hour will cost if you enroll at the school and expect to use your TA benefit.
6. What is your policy for accepting transfer credits from other colleges?
You’ve spent time and money to acquire the credits that you already have and you want to put them to good use in your new degree program. Great! However, don’t just expect that those credits will count.
Not all schools treat credits equally, especially credits that weren’t acquired at that specific institution. This is why it’s really important to talk to the office that is directly in charge of processing transfer credits. Have all of your credits ready to send to them and ask how those would count toward the completion of a degree program at their institution.