Do military students have a right to expect fair treatment and consideration while looking for and choosing a school to complete their degree?
In 2006, Kathy Snead, Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) president, asked for a full review of the recruiting, marketing, and student services practices among SOC colleges and universities. The result, a new SOC Consortium agreement requiring member schools to adhere to the following "Military Student Bill of Rights."
All military student populations have basic rights to satisfactory college marketing, admissions, and student services practices including the right to:
- Accurate information about a school's programs, requirements, accreditation, and its potential impact on course transferability.
- Access basic college/university information and fees without disclosure of student personal information.
- Educational planning and career guidance without high-pressure registration and enrollment efforts from institutions.
- A clear and complete explanation of course/program enrollment procedures and all resulting financial obligations.
- Explore, without coercion, all financial aid options before signing up for student loans or other financial assistance.
- Accurate scholarship information, free of misleading 'scholarship' offers based on military tuition assistance.
- Appropriate academic screening and course placement based on student readiness.
- Appropriate, accessible academic and student support services.
- Clearly defined institutional "drop/add" and withdrawal policies and procedures including information about the impact of military duties (e.g., mobilization, activation, temporary duty assignments) on their academic standing and financial responsibilities.
- Clearly defined grievance/appeals processes.
These specific rights focus on satisfactory college marketing, admissions, and student services practices. SOC institutions agree to provide adequate access to the range of student services appropriate to support the programs, including admissions, financial aid, academic advising, delivery of course materials, competency testing, course placement, and counseling.
In addition assurances will be given that students admitted into college programs possess the requisite knowledge and academic preparation to succeed. Where computers, personal digital assistants, or other technology packets are required for course completion, institutions must provide assistance to students who experience difficulty using the required technology.
SOC institutions will provide adequate, clearly established means for resolving student grievances. In particular, provide transparent due-process procedures related to tuition and financial aid matters, course withdrawals due to unanticipated deployments, lack of consistent computer connectivity, and changes of duty.
It is hoped that the Military Student Bill of Rights will serve as a constant reminder that servicemembers deserve and should receive fair and honest treatment as they seek to improve their lives through educational programs and services.