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Veterans and College Admission: FAQs

College students working at at computer.

Here are answers to some common questions veterans ask about applying to college.

Can I get college credit for military training or for college classes I've already taken?

This depends on several factors — for example, the college you're applying to, the military training you've received and the college courses you've taken — and varies from college to college. Some colleges award a number of college credits for military training. Others don't award any. So it's important to contact an admission counselor at the colleges you're interested in to find out their policy.

But even if your military training or the college courses you've taken don't count for credit at the college you want to attend, you may be able to get credit for your training and experience through CLEP exams.

Do I apply to a four-year college as a freshman or a transfer student?

This depends on the college and varies widely. At some colleges, if you've taken any college classes since graduating from high school — including online or correspondence courses — you have to apply as a transfer student. This means you have to fulfill the requirements to transfer into the college as a third-year junior. Many veterans meet these requirements by starting their studies at a two-year community college.

Other colleges allow veterans who have taken only a few college classes to apply as freshmen. And if you've never taken college classes after high school, you can often apply as a freshman. Check with an admission counselor at the colleges you're interested in to find out their application policy.

As a veteran, do I have to meet the same requirements as regular freshmen or transfer students?

Yes. Talk to an admission counselor at the schools you're interested in to make sure you understand what is required of incoming students. Students transferring into a four-year college as juniors, for example, may need to have earned a certain amount of college credit, maintained a specific GPA for college-level work, and taken certain general-education courses.

And colleges may require or recommend that incoming students take college admission tests.

Learn more about college admission tests.

What information do I need to provide to apply?

To start, learn what is typically required of college applicants. Veterans also need to submit a military transcript to receive credit for their training. You can request a copy of your transcript online through your military branch. You may also want to contact your military supervisor or commanding officer to ask for a letter of recommendation for your college application.

Be sure to check college websites — and later check in with an admission counselor — to make sure you understand what you're expected to provide in your applications as either a freshman or a transfer student.

What if I can't afford the application fee?

At some colleges, veterans do not need to pay an application fee. To apply for this benefit, you'll need to fill out a form for a fee waiver. Ask an admission counselor if the college you're interested in offers fee waivers.

What if I need to brush up on some basic academic skills before I head to college?

Most community colleges offer remedial courses. These classes don't count for college credit, but they allow you to brush up on basic skills and prepare for college-level work.

In addition, most states offer remedial instruction to veterans in areas like English and math through the National Association of Veterans Upward Bound program. This service is available to low-income veterans and those who will be the first in their families to go to college.

What should I do if I need help with the application process?

Check in with an admission counselor at the colleges you're interested in if you have questions about the application process. Many colleges also have staff members who deal specifically with veterans affairs who can help you. Contact the college's veterans affairs coordinator or VA certifying official for more information on who can aid you with this process.

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GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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