Correspondence Courses & VA Education Benefits

VA Approved Correspondence Education

A Personal Tribute to Correspondence Courses

When I was a young soldier in the mid-1990s, correspondence courses were a big thing. I would go through a large paper catalog, select courses that sounded interesting, and weeks later they would arrive in the mail. 

Once I got those courses, I read the material and took the tests before sending them back to be graded. It was pretty easy and it worked well around my busy schedule as a Soldier. The best part was, completing military correspondence courses awarded promotion points. Needless to say, I did as many courses as I could.

And then, the internet happened. 

I was slow to adopt the opportunities found in a connected society. In fact, I didn’t get an email address until 1999, a Hotmail account, in fact. You can’t even get those anymore, which is probably why I still have mine.

In any case, once the paper correspondence courses were phased out, I looked for other means to get promotion points. I found a flyer in a magazine promoting a school that offered an associate’s degree completely by correspondence. There were only a few subject areas, but getting a degree would grant me a lot of promotion points.

Since I was already used to the correspondence method of learning, I mailed in the flyer. Within months, I was studying for a degree with courses through the mail.

I did not end up finishing that degree, as the Army moved me around and then the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started. It was a challenge to have stuff mailed to me overseas, and some of my tests had not arrived at the school. So, I let the dream of a degree go until I retired many years later.

Correspondence Training & The VA

Believe it or not, in this age of technological advancement, the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence, and thousands of ways to get an education, correspondence courses are still a thing.

Much like the few remaining bookstores that did not get torpedoed by the rise of Amazon, there are still a handful of schools that offer degrees, diplomas, and career certificates completely via correspondence courses.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that the correspondence methodology may be a good fit for some students, especially those that wish to take classes from home, and they are too far from any institutes of higher learning.

But why not just do courses online like everyone else?

Great question, and there is an answer. When you enroll in online courses at a college or university, you are still held to a timeline for the submission of assignments and the completion of all coursework. For example, my online graduate courses lasted anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks, and there were assignments that were due each week.

In a correspondence setting, a student can work at their own pace, often balancing family and work obligations like online students. However, they do not have the same regimented timeline for the completion of their coursework. In fact, some students can take months to complete one course if that’s all they can do with their schedule.

The fact remains that the correspondence course programs are a viable option for some students who wish to further their education. Not all of us go to college right out of high school. Some of us had to serve in the military to get money for college. And still others are single parents who are working three jobs just to feed their kids.

Are Self-Paced Programs Credible?

When the pandemic forced colleges and universities to embrace online delivery for their classes, it caused a paradigm shift away from the mentality that online learning was substandard to in-person learning. In much the same way, correspondence courses are often seen as sub-par when it comes to the rigidity of the instruction.

But keep in mind, these schools offering correspondence courses undergo the same evaluation and accreditation by the VA as other brick and mortar schools in order for GI Bill benefits to be used at those institutions. So, if they are evaluated in the same way, and they are still approved by the VA, then it stands to reason that there is some value in the education available.

As with most learning paths, you get out what you put into it. If you want to learn and you apply yourself to the subject matter, then you will have positive outcomes regardless of whether you’re an in-person, online, or correspondence student.

Institutions Offering Correspondence Courses

The following institutions are the only ones still in business that offer correspondence programs that are approved by the VA. While I recognize that this list is smaller than in years past, and it may get smaller as time moves forward, these schools and the programs they offer still provide a quality education to some students.

Ashworth College

Founded in 1987, Ashworth started out as a family-owned school offering only one course in Real Estate Appraisal. Now, the school offers associate and bachelor degrees in over 20 subject areas. 

Additionally, Ashworth offers career certificates and diplomas that allow for faster completion in numerous in-demand job fields. They also have a curriculum that allows students to finish high school.

Degrees are available in the following subject areas:

  1. Accounting
  2. Business
  3. Computer Information Systems
  4. Construction Management
  5. Criminal Justice
  6. Early Childhood Education
  7. Healthcare Administration
  8. Paralegal Studies
  9. Psychology
  10. Veterinary Technician

At-Home Professions

Based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, this correspondence school has one offering:

This course of instruction provides training in Healthcare Documentation which can lead to careers in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and any place that requires the processing of medical claims. The program also covers training in the use and employment of Electronic Health Records.

Blackstone Career Institute

Blackstone is considered to be one of the oldest correspondence schools in America, having served students since 1890. Today, it is a private, licensed distance education school that offers affordable and flexible programs.

Specifically for military and veteran students, Blackstone accepts both the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills. It is also accredited by the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program, and it was labeled by GI Jobs as a Top Military Friendly School.

Blackstone offers online, self-paced programs in the following career fields:

  • Paralegal
  • Veterinary Assistance
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Medical Billing & Coding
  • Physical Therapy Aide
  • Medical Office Assistant
  • Home Health Aide
  • Dental Office Assistant
  • Medical Transcription
  • Child Care Provider

One cool thing that separates Blackstone from other correspondence institutions is that they host a Paralegal Program for the Incarcerated. This program allows for inmates to gain valuable and marketable skills in the Paralegal profession while still in prison. This program helps lead to gainful employment once inmates are released back into society.

Modern Gun School

The Modern Gun School is the only VA approved institution that offers instruction in Gunsmithing. They proudly accept both the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill programs, and they have been training gunsmiths since 1946.

The MGS offers two programs to those students looking to break into gun repair:

  1. Basic Gun Repair Course
  2. Advanced Gunsmithing Course

In their Advanced Gunsmithing Course, which is it’s most popular among military veterans, students will receive over $300 worth of tools and materials, an FFL Kit, and a number of hands-on projects.

As an added bonus, the Modern Gun School is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). 

National Tax Training School

The National Tax Training School has trained successful income tax preparers for over 60 years. They started out giving lessons by mail and have transitioned to offering interactive courses of instruction to distance students.

National Tax offers two tax training courses:

  1. The Federal Income Tax Course
  2. The Advanced Federal Tax Course

Additionally, National Tax offers an IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Course. Tax return preparers who complete this course are listed in the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers, which is a great credential to have.

The National Tax Training School is also accredited and certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program, and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). 

Penn Foster Career School

Penn Foster has been training students for over 125 years. They offer over 100 self-paced programs for in-demand career fields. They host a College, a Career School, and a High School, to accommodate every level of student and career seeker.

Penn Foster accepts military education benefits, including:

  • The Montgomery GI Bill
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Veterans Educational Assistance Program
  • The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program

Most other correspondence schools only accept the GI Bill, which sets Penn Foster apart from the rest. The school boasts an annual student enrollment of over 300,000 each year.

Penn Foster’s course offering span many of today’s most in-demand career fields, including:

  • Business Programs like Accounting and Business Management
  • Computer and Electronics Programs like IT Support Specialist and Computer Programming
  • Legal Programs like degrees in Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies
  • Healthcare Programs like Pharmacy Technician and Medical Administrative Assistant

These are just a few of the subject areas for which Penn Foster offers 2- and 4-year degrees or certificates.

University of Florida Flexible Learning

The University of Florida has a Flexible Learning Department where students can take courses without even being registered students with UF.

The Flexible Learning Program allows for students to take actual college courses from the university, for credit, which can then be applied to degree programs at the UF or other colleges and universities.

This approach by the University of Florida is unique in that students are taking general education courses a la carte, like math, psychology, and even foreign languages. What makes UF’s approach different from other correspondence programs is that students do not have to select a specific degree or program of study before taking classes, or even at all.

US Career Institute

This correspondence school was founded in California in 1981 as the Notereader Career Institute. Their name changed a couple of times over the years, but in 2005, they settled on the U.S. Career Institute.

The USCI offers career certificates in the healthcare, business, and legal career fields, as well as a high school curriculum.

Furthermore, the school offers self-paced Associate degrees in:

  • Accounting
  • Business Management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health Information Technology
  • Human Resources
  • Medical Specialties
  • Social Work

While most of these programs can be completed in under 18 months, USCI proudly allows students to work at their own pace and to complete their degrees on their own timeline. 

VA Pays for Correspondence Training

Now that you know what correspondence training is and which schools offer those programs, how exactly can you use your VA education benefits to pay for them?

The VA states the following when it comes to using your GI Bill benefits for correspondence training:

“We’ll pay you back for the cost of your correspondence training classes if you’re using the Post-9/11 GI Bill at an in-state school. If you’re using other GI Bill programs, we’ll pay you back for 55% of the approved costs.”

So, if you’re planning on using the GI BIll for programs at any of these institutions, you should also be aware of the current payment rates for your reimbursement.

Conclusion

Education is a big deal. Whether your family can afford an ivy league school, or you have to serve in the military to pay for a state school, there are countless paths to getting a degree.

For those students who need a self-paced program, there are options available to you, and they are covered by your VA education benefits.

Don’t delay in getting started on your education!

(Image courtesy of fizkes via Shutterstock)

 

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Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Online Colleges that Provide Credits for Military Experience

Save money and time by receiving college credit for your military experience. All while earning a great degree at one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer.

Distinguishing the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Military training, courses, and specialty schools can transfer to college credits.  This can result in saving active duty service members and veterans valuable time and money. Approximately 1,700 veteran-friendly colleges and universities provide a military college credit transfer for military experience.

The American Council on Education (ACE) works with the Department of Defense (DoD) to evaluate military experience, courses, and training. The goal is to best match military experience and knowledge to equitable college courses and credit.  An ACE recommendation certifies that a particular military experience, course, or training has provided the necessary information and knowledge that would have been acquired in a particular college course.

To get started, request a copy of your military Joint Services Transcript. For the Air Force, you will need to obtain your CCAF Transcript instead of the JST.

Determining the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

Online colleges that offer military credit transfer provide an excellent opportunity for active duty service members and veterans. Other features that are common practices among the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer include: accreditation, GI Bill acceptance, additional tuition assistance specifically earmarked for active duty and veterans, graduation rates of at least 30%, and effective job placement.

Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer

University of Central Florida

A Leader in Online Education

Offering online degrees since 1997, the University of Central Florida has been a leader in online education for a quarter-century. As one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, UCF consistently ranks high on “Best of” lists including:

  • #12 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs (US News)
  • #14 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #6 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)
  • #8 in Best Online Master’s in Nursing Education Programs (US News)
  • Best Hispanic-Serving Institutions in America (Niche)

The University of Central Florida is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for both the CLEP and the DSST exams. UCF proudly offers college credit for military experience.

University of Cincinnati

Best Online Undergraduate Options

As one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, the University of Cincinnati Online offers an abundance of online options including over 60 Associate degrees and undergraduate certificates. The University of Cincinnati consistently receives top national accolades including:

  • #11 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs (US News)
  • #12 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs (US News)
  • #14 in Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs (US News)
  • #21 in Best Online Master’s in Business Programs (US News)
  • #11 Best Colleges in Information Technology in America (Niche)

The University of Cincinnati Online is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for the CLEP exam. The University of Cincinnati also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Best Online Graduate Programs

Pennsylvania State University World Campus offers over 120 Master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Penn State World allows students to earn their degrees from anywhere in the world with 100% online programs. As one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, Penn State World consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #4 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs (US News)
  • #5 in Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online MBA Programs (US News)
  • #8 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs (US News)
  • #10 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)

Penn State World Campus is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for the DSST exam. Penn State World Campus proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Arizona State University

Top Ranked

One of the best campus-based schools is also one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer. ASU has a 60% graduation rate, and offers over 80 online bachelor’s degree programs and nearly as many master’s programs. ASU offers the same excellent curriculum and instruction on campus and online. ASU consistently receives top national accolades including:

  • America’s Best Value College (Forbes)
  • #3 in Best Online Master’s in Business Programs (US News)
  • #6 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs (US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)
  • #7 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs (US News)
  • #10 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs (US News)
  • #1 in Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration Programs (US News)

ASU is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for both the DSST and the CLEP exams. ASU also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Oregon State University

Best Kept Secret

Oregon State University offers over 85 online programs. As one of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer, Oregon State consistently receives top national accolades including:

  • #3 Best Online Colleges in America (Niche)
  • #4 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)
  • #3 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs(US News)
  • #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs (US News)
  • #16 in Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs(US News)

Oregon State University is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and offers credit for the CLEP exam. Oregon State also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

University of Virginia

Top Ranked for Veterans

The University of Virginia has an astounding 85% graduation rate. It consistently ranks high in national “Best of” lists including:

  • #10 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)
  • #10 in Online Graduate Programs (US News)
  • #3 Top Public Universities in America (Niche)
  • #26 in National Universities (US News)
  • #32 in Best Value Schools (US News)
  • #4 in Top Public Schools (US News)
  • #7 in Business Schools (US News)

The University of Virginia is a GI Bill-approved school and participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. The University of Virginia proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Kansas State University Online

Best Online Variety

Kansas State University Online offers a wide variety of online options including graduate and undergraduate certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates. Kansas State University boasts a fantastic 60% graduation rate. K-State earns a wide variety of accolades including:

  • #7 Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America (Niche)
  • #83 in Top Public Schools (US News)
  • #1 Best Tuition Value in Kansas

Kansas State University is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for both the DSST and the CLEP exams. K-State also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

Hampton University

Best Online HBCU

One of the Best Online Colleges for Military Credit Transfer is also one of the Best HBCUs. Hampton University offers a variety of online degrees including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in online 8-week sessions.

Hampton University is a well-known HBCU and receives many accolades including:

  • #5 in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (US News)
  • #52 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News)
  • #58 Most Liberal Colleges in America (Niche)

Hampton University is a GI Bill-approved school, participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, and awards credit for both the DSST and the CLEP exams. Hampton University also proudly offers college credit for military experience.

 

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Retake DSST Exam For Free For A Limited Time

From August 1st through September 30th, eligible military members can retake their DSST exams for free if they do not pass them the first time.

This is potentially great news for those taking DSST exams through DANTES!

What Is DANTES?

DANTES stands for Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support and provides no-cost education and career-planning programs for members of the United States Armed Forces.

What Are DSST Exams?

The DSST exams stand for DANTES Subject Standardized Tests and have been available since 2006.

The DSST Exams are prior-learning exams that offer students a quick and easy way to earn college credit. Through these exams, you can help reduce the time it takes to get through college and they will save you money. There are over 30 exam titles in the subjects of:

  • Business
  • Humanities
  • Math
  • Physical Science
  • Social Science
  • Technology

Which Schools Provide Credit For DSST Exams?

Over 1,900 institutions across the United States participate in this program. You should make sure that your college or university does before you sign up to take an exam.

Easily find colleges and universities offering credit for DSST exams in our School Finder tool by following this link.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Reimbursement for DSST

The standard base price of a DSST exam is $85, however, veterans who are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be reimbursed for their first exam through their VA Education Benefits. Then, with this special promotion, you can retake the test without having to pay out of pocket.

Retake DSST Exams For Free

With this 2nd Shot Free Exam Retake Promotion, you will need to take your DSST test by September 30th, 2019. After you take your test, if you do not pass, you will receive a retake voucher code which will be emailed to you and can take up to five business days.

Then you would enter your voucher code as payment when signing up to take the exam again. Keep in mind that because of the DSST Exam Retake Policy student must wait 30 days before retaking a failed exam.

You will need to retake your exam by December 10th, 2019, because your voucher code will expire after that date.

Unfortunately, this promotion does not apply to the Principles of Public Speaking Exam or paper-based tests.

Visit the DANTES website for more information. They also have exam preparation materials as well as practice exams to help you study and prepare for your exams.

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The Reality of College Credit for Military Service

This series of articles focuses on the lessons I learned that will help you get the very most from your military and veteran education benefits.

Lessons Learned: The Reality of College Credit for Military Service

Using ACE credits can save you a lot of time and a ton of money, but you really have to know the limitations. If you are like me, you have been told since your first visit to the recruiter that you will be granted college credit for military service for nearly everything you do.  This would include graduating boot camp to being advanced or promoted to E-6. While this is not untrue, it is a bit oversold.

In my previous Lessons Learned article I briefly explained how my expectations for my military college credits did not match up with reality. As an E-6, I had more than 60 credits, the first school I applied to would not accept any of my credits. But, let’s put a pin in that for now.

Reality Check #1

Not All Military Training Is Worth College Credit

While it is true that there is a process for getting credit for the formalized training and education you get in the military, and it’s true that you may get increasingly more credits based on your rank or pay grade, it is not true that every course you take is worth credit or that every MOS/Rating/AFSC gets the same college credits.

So, before I go any further, let me explain in greater detail how the system works. It all starts with the American Council on Education (a.k.a. ACE).

ACE is a private non-profit organization that evaluates both military and private sector education, training, and experience and makes a recommendation on how many college credits a given course or job experience should be granted. In addition, ACE charges the military to evaluate course curriculums, so ACE only evaluates the military courses and training curriculum that each of the service branches asks them to.

In most cases a course must reach a certain number of classroom or lab hours to qualify for evaluation and those hours often reflect the number of recommended credits.

Reality Check #2:

Not All ACE Credits Are The Same and not all schools recognize or accept ACE credits.

ACE credits are not the same, vary by school and not all schools recognize or accept ACE credits.

ACE credits are normally accepted at most colleges and universities. But – here goes another but – colleges and universities are NOT required to accept ACE credits and they normally have a limit to how many credits they will accept.

Realty Check #3

Having “Enough” Credits, Is Not Enough

Another misconception that I had was that having more than 60 ACE credits and passing my CLEP exams for the liberal arts requirements for my associate degree (Math, English, Humanities, Social Science and History, and Natural Science) meant that I could go to the local on-base college and start out as a Junior.

WRONG – Although it was true that I had enough credits, and I had even been granted an Associate’s Degree by the University of State of New York, I learned that I didn’t have the “right” credits. In hindsight I should have known this, but at this point, I did not truly understand how higher education worked.

Four Quick Lessons Learned:

  • All schools have transfer credit policies. It is rare that a school allows a student to come in at the junior level, except in the case of schools which have standing transfer agreements or are part of a state college system.
  • Colleges guard their reputation. Schools must have some assurance that the quality and qualification of an incoming student’s education meets the prerequisites for their degree program. In other words, they must ensure you are academically ready, because your failure reflects on them.
  • Each school limits the non-tradition (ACE) credits. Colleges cap the number of ACE credits that can apply toward their degree programs. In many cases the limits are set either by board of trustee’s policy or state law.
  • Most ACE credits are for lower level. ACE credits are nearly always applied to Associates Level free elective credits, meaning they can apply to cover the required free-elective courses, but they are seldom applied toward specific degree requirements.

NOTE: ACE does recommend some Upper Level credits, but those recommendations are relatively rare.

The Big Lesson Learned

Manage your expectations and adjust accordingly.

My first attempt to use my mixed bag of ACE and CLEP credits resulted in a big fat zero. I made the mistake of letting the reality put me off my goals. It was 5 years before I learned that not all schools have the same requirements. The truth is you need to shop around, not all schools have the same limitations on ACE or other college credit transfers.

You should choose a school according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the Education: The school must provide a quality education and have a reputation that will ensure you are getting a quality education and future career opportunities.
  2. Degree Offerings: The degrees offered must advance your career or put you on the path to your dream job.
  3. College Credit for Military Training Experience: If you want to fully leverage your ACE credits and other non-traditional education, you will have to be very selective about your school options. There are thousands of schools that are liberal with granting ACE credits, it is up to you to decide if they meet all three criteria.

One of the best ways to get started is to use the College Recon school finder to do your homework and find the school that fits your specific needs.

Stay tuned for more Lessons Learned…

These lessons learned come from my years as a Coast Guard Career Development Advisor, working directly with Education Services Officers, and while using education benefits while on active-duty and as a veteran.

 

LESSONS LEARNED SERIES:

 

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DANTES DSST Exams: Everything You Need About the DSST Test

There are several ways you can take a test instead of completing a class for college credit. One way is taking the DSST exam.

There are a few reasons why this is a good idea. For one thing, you will be saving yourself time by testing on a topic you already know about.

They can also be a money saver as you will not have to pay for the whole class. They can help you get into programs or help you finish up your degree without having to take more classes.

Here is what you need to know about the DSST Exam:

What is the DSST Exam?

DSST stands for DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, and as of 2006, they are available to anyone who is seeking college credit outside of the traditional classroom, although in the past they were only available for military and their families. The exams will allow you to further your educational goals while serving in the military, even if you are deployed.

The exams are created by the company, Prometric, who is the trusted provider of market-leading test development and delivery solutions. They are accepted for credit by more than 1900 colleges and universities nationwide.

The ACE (American Council on Education) has evaluated and recommended the college credit for all DSST exams.

How Much Do They Cost?

The cost of the DSST exam is $85 but, veterans that are eligible for the Post 9/11-GI Bill can be reimbursed for their DSST exams.

The DSST credit-by-exam program is an approved VA National Testing program. The VA will reimburse the DSST exam fee as well as the testing center administrative fee. The amount of that fee varies. You will need to submit a receipt or proof of payment to be reimbursed for the exam.

You will need to apply for the Post 9/11-GI Bill benefits and then complete a VA Form 22-0810 which is the Application for Reimbursement of National Exam Fee.

What Type of Exams Can You Take?

There are six categories of exams you can take with DSST. They are in:

  • Business
  • Humanities
  • Math
  • Physical Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology

What Does The Testing Look Like?

Testing takes place at colleges and universities nationwide. You can also take the exams at your local base education office or nearby locations funded by DANTES. You can check for locations here. If you are looking for a specific duty station, make sure to enter that into the search for exact locations.

Each of the locations determines the frequency and the scheduling of the exams. They will also provide accommodations for those with disabilities. They do need to be reasonable, approved as well as scheduled ahead of time. Accommodations can also vary based on their location.

On the day of the exam, make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Make sure you bring your government ID and if you are military, your CAC (Common Access Card.) Exams are internet or paper based and need to be completed at the testing center. You can’t just log in from your home to take the exam on the internet. The exams are in multiple-choice format.

As you prepare for the exams, you can get practice exams. Peterson’s, a Nelnet Company will supply test preparation tools for DSST exams free of charge for military members. You can also find study guides, but if you want to go with the ones that are endorsed by Prometric, you will want to look for the DSST and Prometric logo on them.

What If I Need To Retake An Exam?

If you need to retake the exam, you can do so after 30 days. Typically DANTES will not pay for repeat test taking, and the cost would fall to you.  However, right now they’re offering a special promotion through Sep 30th.  You can for a limited time retake the DSST exam for free.

How Do I Sign Up?

You will need to register at the testing center on the day that you take the exam. You can then have the scores sent to your college or university or request them yourself.

How Is The DSST Exam Different Than The CLEP Exam?

In addition to the DSST exam being offered by Prometric and the CLEP being offered by the College Board, the main difference between the two exams is the content. While CLEP is mostly for lower level credit, DSST is for both upper and lower level credit. DSST exams also tend to be a bit more specific with regards to the subject levels.

If you are looking for ways to earn more college credit, take a look at the DSST exams to see if any of them would be worth taking. Make sure you are prepared for the test and register correctly.

Taking DSST exams will help save you time and money and help you work towards your educational goals.

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College Credit for Military Experience: What You Need to Know

Did you now that you can receive college credit for your military service? This can help save you valuable time and possibly thousands of dollars. An ACE and DOD program can help provide veterans and active college credit for military service towards their degrees. 

Military training, courses, and specialty schools can transfer to college credits.  This can result in saving service members and veterans valuable time and money.

Just imagine how all those years of service and TDY trainings could jumpstart your civilian career.

College credits for military service provides an excellent opportunity for active duty service members and veterans.  They allow them to capitalize on their hard-earned military experience and graduate faster.

College Credit for Military Experience and Training

Approximately 1,700 colleges and universities provide the military college credit when you transfer due to your military experience. 

The partnership between ACE and DoD reviews military training in order to recommend appropriate course credit to member schools. ACE educates schools on how to best provide college credit for military experience and training.

This results in saving you time and money.  You are able to begin or continue your educational program with:

  • Fewer course requirements
  • Decreased tuition costs
  • More college credits on your transcript

Saving both money and time will help you to get where you want to get faster.

  • Save Money – An average college course can cost you an average of $550 per credit, not to mention study materials. Through this program you pay nothing and it can save you valuable GI Bill funds.
  • Save Time – College courses can take on average three to six hours per week over a 3 to 6-month period.  With minimal time investment, you can save months towards obtaining your degree.
  • Fast Forward to the Good Parts – Skip past coursework you may have already covered.

Breaking Down What You Save

Average college courses can range from six week to fifteen weeks long. They typically result in three credit hours or semester credits.

The average cost per credit ranges from $135 to $1000+.

At one end would be a local, two-year community college. On the high end would be a four-year, private university.

Average cost per credit across all sectors of $550.

To quantify this opportunity, let’s say a military student transfers in 24 ACE-recommended credits at a public, four-year university with 10 week courses priced at $550/credit.

Cost per 3-credit course = $1,650

24 ACE-recommended credits = 8 completed courses

Total Cost Savings = $13,200

If the student takes two courses per 10-week semester, it would take them four semesters to complete 8 courses.

Total Time Saved = 32 weeks or 8 months

The added benefit is that GI Bill users will save a total of 8 benefit months. Those additional months could be used for:

  • Additional undergraduate coursework
  • Graduate school
  • Transferred months to dependents or spouses

Guide to Maximize College Credits for Military Service

Get the most credit for your military experience. You’ll have to do some research and follow these steps.

Step 1. Request a Copy of Your Joint Services Transcript

Before you begin, request a copy of your military Joint Services Transcript. This will include information such as:

  • Your military course completions
  • Military occupations
  • College-level test scores
  • Other learning experiences

For Air Force, you will need to obtain your CCAF Transcript instead.  This is your version of the JST.

To request a copy:

  • Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard: Go here.
  • Air Force: Go here.

NOTE: It’s important to also do some research. Some colleges and universities might technically accept your JST, but will award those credits as general elective credits.

Basically, these credits don’t help you complete your degree any earlier. Make sure to ask admissions personnel exactly how those credits will transfer and help you ‘check off’ required courses for your desired degree program.

Step 2: Review Transcripts

Review transcripts for any errors, discrepancies, or missing information. If there is a school or course missing, contact JST or CCAF directly to correct this before submitting official transcripts to a school.

Step 3: Research “Military Friendly” Schools

Look for military friendly colleges. These institutions offer military credit, CLEP, or DANTES exams.

Some schools have a dedicated military admissions teams or military transfer credit evaluators.  These are individuals trained in reviewing Joint Service Transcripts and CCAF Transcripts.

Other indicators are:

  • Military tuition discounts or Reduced Tuition
  • Dedicated Military Academic Advisors
  • Military resources or groups on campus such as Student Veterans of America

Important Note: Selecting Your Ideal College

From here, it is recommended that you reach out to numerous schools.  Military training may carry more weight at a specific institution.

Acceptance practices are not equal across the board, so please make sure to do your research and keep options open. Enroll only after the school has determined your military transfer credits.

NOTE: You can use CollegeRecon to contact schools to learn about what college credits for military service you may be eligible to receive.

Step 4: Send Transcripts

Send transcripts to a school for review by Admissions Counselors or Transfer Credit Evaluators.

Step 5: Review Updated Transcripts

Review updated transcripts from Admissions and verify that the transferred courses and/or semester hours were applied correctly.

In some cases, waivers or audits may be considered. This would transfer a course into a preferred degree section or to fulfill a specific course requirement.

Step 6: Continue Working with Academic Advisor

Once you are accepted and begin taking courses, continue to work with your Academic Advisor. Make sure that the transferred courses are applying accurately and that you do not take repeat courses.

What Can Credit Recommendations Do?

  • Replace a required course in a degree program or program of study
  • Fulfill an optional course (i.e. option to choose a Science Course, Humanities Course, etc.)
  • Fulfill a general or free elective
  • Meet basic requirements for a program, concentration or minor, or course
  • Waive prerequisites for a course

Notable Schools Offering Military College Credits

You can find over 1,000 schools that offer college credit for military experience here.  Here are some examples below.  

* Some of the following schools have paid for promotional consideration.

Important Notes About Military College Credits

Credits for military experience typically applies to lower level, elective coursework.

The number of credits that apply toward a selected course of study will be determined by the degree requirements. In some instances a transfer course from Joint Service Transcripts or CCAF doesn’t transfer in to fulfill a specific requirement. In that case it may fit into a Free Electives or General Electives category.

If your desired area of study is different than your MOS, you may receive less credit than anticipated.

There may be a higher likelihood that transfer credits fulfill more course requirements in the degree is similar to the military occupational specialty. Example: A Cybersecurity Specialist transferring credits into a Bachelor Science in Cybersecurity program.

ACE credit recommendations are just that, recommendations. The final decision regarding the transfer of military college credits is ultimately determined by the college. 

But don’t hesitate to appeal if an adverse decision has been made.

For the ACE Military Guide Frequently Asked Questions, go here.

To get started on earning educational credit for your military experience and skills, visit the American Council on Education’s Military Guide for further details.

About the American Council on Education (ACE)

The American Council on Education (ACE) is a non-profit U.S. Higher Education association. ACE has contracted with the DOD to evaluate the courses and occupations that satisfy or closely match college courses.

ACE’s members include representatives from approximately 1,700 accredited colleges, universities, higher-education-related associations, and organizations around the country. 

ACE recommendations for coursework are validated by the faculty members who teach in the areas they review. By providing an ACE recommendation, they certify that a military course or training has provided the necessary information and knowledge that would have been acquired in a particular college course.

 

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CLEP Tests for Military: What You Need to Know

In addition to military experience counting for college, there is another way to save time and money on your education – the CLEP exam. The CLEP exam is free for the military and gives you the opportunity to earn college credit for what you already know.

CLEP for Military: An Overview

What does CLEP stand for?

CLEP stands for the College-Level Examination Program.

How much does it cost to take a CLEP test?

Your first test is free for those who are eligible (see below).  For the military college student, DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) funds the cost of the exam.

If you do not pass the first time, you will need to self-fund a re-test after a waiting period of 90 days.

Who can be funded by DANTES?

  • Active Duty
  • Reserves
  • National Guard
  • Spouses of Coast Guard, both active and reserve
  • Civilian employees of the Air Force if they take the test at US fully funded test center or on base
  • The following are NOT ELIGIBLE for funding by DANTES:
    • Veterans
    • Dependents of active duty, inactive Guard or Reserves
    • Coast Guard Auxiliary
    • Spouses (other than Coast Guard spouses)
    • DOD Acquisition Workforce Personnel

CLEP Military Schools

This is a partial list of GI Bill approved schools that award college credit for qualifying CLEP exam scores for veterans and military personnel.

Special consideration was given to these schools as promotional partners of CollegeRecon.

All Colleges Accepting CLEP From Military and Veterans

There are over 2,200 schools offer credit for CLEP for military and veterans.

You can quickly find those schools that provide credit for CLEP exams by using the School Finder at CollegeRecon.  You can also find them by visiting this link.

What are some details about CLEP exams?

  • The exams are 90 to 120 minutes long and administered at over 2,900 colleges across the country as well as on base testing centers.
  • You can earn three or more credits for each exam, based on the institution that you attend.
  • There are 33 introductory-level college subject exams.

CLEP Exam Sections

Composition and Literature

Topics related to American and British literature

World Languages

French, German and Spanish.

History and Social Sciences

Topics related to history, economics, and psychology.

Science and Mathematics

Various science disciplines and different levels of math.

Business

Various business disciplines.

For a full list of courses / exams for CLEP, please see bottom of article.

What is a fully funded CLEP test center?

The College Board and DANTES have partnered to launch a program that provides more fully funded test center locations to qualified test takers.

At these centers, participants that take the exams for the first time will not only have their exam fee taken care of but also have their administrative fee funded too.

On base centers also wave the administrative fee for DANTES funded students. You can find these fully funded centers by using the test center search feature.

What do you need to do to take CLEP exams?

To take these exams you will need to:

  • Verify the college you would like to attend will accept CLEP scores.
  • Sign up for an account. In My Account, you will be asked if you are eligible for the DANTES funded exams.
  • Select your test center, and where you want to send your scores. You can also purchase study materials.
  • Schedule your exam.
  • Show up and take your exam at the correct time and date.
  • Receive your scores and order transcripts if need be.
  • Make sure you follow all of the directions given to you on your registration forms.

On your testing day you will need to bring:

  • Valid registration ticket
  • Registration forms or printouts if required
  • Administrative fees if you need to pay them
  • Identification
  • Anything else required on your registration forms

What if you don’t pass the exam the first time?

DANTES will fund one attempt at the exams. If you do not pass the first time, you can retake the exam as “self-funded.” You will need to wait three months to try again, and the fee would be $85. This fee will go up to $87 starting July 1st, 2018.

What if I have special needs?

You can request accommodations if you have a learning or physical disability. These include using ZoomText, modifiable screen colors, use of a reader, an amanuensis, or a sign language interpreter, extended time, or untimed rest breaks.

What will happen with my scores?

Scores for those serving in the Air Force will automatically be reported to the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) . Scores from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will automatically go to their Joint Service Transcript (JST.) Scores for those who are self-funded are not reported to the CCAF or JST.

If you are a non-DANTES funded test taker, you can order your transcripts online. If you are DANTES funded and would like to order your transcripts, you will need to complete and submit a military transcript order form.

How are the exams scored?

The multiple choice section will be scored by a computer. The essay section will be graded by two or more college English professors. Some colleges do require optional essays for American Literature, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, College Composition Modular, and English Literature. They will be graded and evaluated by the colleges that require them.

If you do decide to go back to school, taking CLEP exams will help you get your degree faster as well as safe you money. You will be able to receive credit for what you already know instead of having to take a class for it. With DANTES funding these exams for most military service members, you should at least look and see if the CLEP exams are a good option for you and your educational plans.

Full CLEP Exam List

Composition and Literature

    • American Literature
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
    • College Composition
    • College Composition Modular
    • English Literature
    • Humanities

World Languages

    • French Language: Levels 1 and 2
    • German Language: Levels 1 and 2
    • Spanish Language: Levels 1 and 2

History and Social Sciences

    • American Government
    • History of the United States I
    • History of the United States II
    • Human Growth and Development
    • Introduction to Educational Psychology
    • Introductory Psychology
    • Introductory Sociology
    • Principles of Macroeconomics
    • Principles of Microeconomics
    • Social Sciences and History
    • Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
    • Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

Science and Mathematics

    • Biology
    • Calculus
    • Chemistry
    • College Algebra
    • College Mathematics
    • Natural Sciences
    • Precalculus

Business

    • Financial Accounting
    • Information Systems
    • Introductory Business Law
    • Principles of Management
    • Principles of Marketing

Featured image courtesy of Alex Radelich at Unsplash

 

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