You know a subject backwards and forwards; it’s a hobby, a way to kill time, it’s a passion. Whatever it is, you know it, and know it well. However, you haven’t formally studied it, and now that you find yourself in college, it’s a requirement that you take the course. Sure, it might be an easy A, but you’re an adult learner in the military. You’ve got a full-time job, a long list of financial responsibilities, and a short list of income. Time and money are important. How can you make the most of both?
By participating in the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), that’s how. These exams are designed to test your knowledge in 100- and 200-level college coursework, enabling you to receive college credit without having to actually take the class. These 90-minute tests consist of primarily multiple choice questions, but certain exams (such as College Composition) are longer, up to 120 minutes maximum and may also have short answer and/or essay sections.
There are 33 exams to choose from in five categories: history and social studies, composition and literature, science and mathematics, world languages, and business. These tests are administered at over 1700 locations.
Good news: CLEP works with the military. Tests are not only given at colleges and universities (many of which are part of the SOC-system) but also on military base educational centers. Many base centers also have free study guides — a bonus since some of these books can cost a pretty penny when you take multiple exams.
Best of all, the costs are covered. If you are active duty or reserve, the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) will cover the cost of the exam ($80). If you take the test at your base’s educational center, the administrative fee will be covered, too. Spouses are also eligible for this DANTES benefit. If you are on the GI Bill, the VA will reimburse you for the cost of the test and administration fee. Note that either way, DANTES or VA, the cost will be covered for one test per subject only. Should you have an off day and not achieve the required score, you will have to pay out-of-pocket to retest.
Between DANTES, tuition assistance, and the SOC-system, earning a college degree while in the armed forces is not only an attainable goal but an affordable one. Working in conjunction with your base’s educational center and your college, you may be able to reach this goal sooner than you think.