There’s a straightforward formula to getting a college degree:
Determination + Effort +Time + Money = Diploma.
No one but you can provide the work. However, for service members help is available for the time and money portion of the equation.
Credit By Exam
Why spend time and money on a subject matter you already know? An average college course takes 10-20 hours per week and costs more than $100 per credit hour.
Credit-by-Exam is a straightforward approach to earning college credit: You pass the test, you get course credit. In addition to the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams, there are also DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) and Excelsior College Exams (ECE) available for a large breadth of subjects. It is free for military students who take the exams through DANTES.
Credit by Exam test results are accepted by a large number of colleges and universities. As you plan your semester, be sure to review the list of exams offered. You may be able to earn the majority of your course credits via exam.
A word of caution: Make sure you are prepared before you take the exam. If you do not pass, you must wait 180 days to retest.
Credit for Experience
More than likely, your military service has already earned you college credit. Your training, coursework and experience in a specific occupation can earn you credit from many schools and colleges. You can put them to work for you. Claim college credit for your military experience through the DANTES Military Evaluations Program and the American Council on Education.
The American Council on Education (ACE) evaluates military schools and occupations to determine their level of academic credit. Even Basic Training has been assigned a level of academic credit.
You may have enough experience already to earn a good portion toward your college degree. Visit the ACE Military Programs website to see how much credit you may have already earned.
Tuition Assistance (TA) is available to all active duty personnel and will pay up to 100% of tuition costs. Federal Student Aid (FSA) in the form of grants or low interest loans is available to military service members. The GI Bill is available to discharged veterans and reserve component service members. Active-duty service members are also eligible to use the GI Bill, but it is not recommended.
Bonus Tip: Most students burn time and money taking redundant coursework. Make time to have any and all of your previous school transcripts, test scores and service branch records sent to your new school for evaluation before you take a single class.
Time and money are precious commodities. Protect yours by using the above tools to help you get your degree faster and cheaper.