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Changing Majors While on VA Benefits

Changing majors is a common practice, if not rite of passage. According to Purdue University, approximately 80% of students entering college are unsure about their major, and 50% of all students change their major in college at least once.

As a veteran of military service, you have a leg up on many other students. You’ve experienced the severity of boot camp, learned to navigate the complex military organizational system, and for many of you, endured the rigors of war. You now need to take the skills you’ve honed in the past few years and apply them to the sometimes confusing, and often changing, rules and regulations of the educational domain.

Most colleges now have Veteran’s Resource Offices or Centers in response to the large number of former military students who have taken advantage of the Post- 9/11 GI Bill. On the paperwork side of things, changing majors is easy; it’s the DD 22-1995, Request for Change of Program or Place of Training. This two page form comes with two pages of instructions, available online and at your college. The VA estimates it will take you 20 minutes to fill out.

Under certain circumstances you will need non-educational information to fill out this five-part form. Parts I and II deal with your personal and educational information, while Part III requests direct deposit information (if that has changed). Part IV is for students who have served in the military before January 1st, 1977 AND have dependents (generally not applicable for those on the Post-9/11 GI Bill). Part V is your signature, verifying and certifying that your information is correct. Then simply turn the form in to the Veteran’s Resource Center at your school.

The complexity of changing majors comes in the requirements for graduation. Understanding what you’re getting into is of the utmost importance. This is your time and your money that is on the line. If you are changing from history to nursing, chances are that under your history major you didn’t have many science prerequisites. You will now have to expend additional time, and perhaps money, in taking these required classes. Remember that most Post-9/11 GI Bills will pay for at the most 36 months of benefits, the equivalent of 4 years (9 months each) of full-time attendance.

The best way to avoid multiple major changes is to do your homework. Evaluate your skills and interests before enrollment to see what majors may be in your best interest. Your school’s Veteran’s Resource Center or Student Career Center can help you compare your abilities to occupational requirements and future employment outlooks to give you the best possible guidance in regards to school as well as to the job market potential when you graduate.

Contributed by S.E. Davidson Parker

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