Get the Facts on Getting College Credit for Service

Airforce Tech

Most military service members and veterans have been told that they can be granted college credit for military service. However, most of us never get the whole story. Hopefully the following post will help everyone understand the opportunity and limitations associated with this highly touted, sometimes over-sold, but ultimately invaluable benefit of military service.

What are Military Experience Credits?

College credit for military experience and training is determined by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE analyzes each occupational specialty and associated ranks and grades to determine if the required knowledge and skills meet the academic requirements college credit. Air Force specialties are evaluated and granted credit through the Community College of the Air Force.

In addition, ACE reviews the curriculums for most military training programs, including classroom and correspondence courses, to determine the amount and level of academic credit each should be awarded. Through ACE, you can take academic credit for most of the training you have received, including Basic Training.

What are the Limitations of Military Experience Credits?

Unfortunately, veterans learn the hard way that not all their ACE credits apply for their degree program. After all,  recruiters often told many people how they could get college credit for nearly everything they did in the military. But the fact is, most of the ACE credits service members earn only apply to lower-level (associates degree) free-electives. Only a select handful of credits actually apply toward core requirements or upper-level course work.

The main exception is in the case of technical degrees where the veteran is seeking a degree in their actual military occupation. For example a degree in network security may fit with a veteran’s ACE credits.

In addition, it is up to each college to determine the number of credits they will accept, and how they will be applied toward a specific degree. In fact, some schools may even choose not to grant any credit for military experience. That is why it is critical to shop around for the school that best fits your needs - value, accreditation, degree options, and grants college credit for CLEP exams and military experience.

You need to ask the admissions counselor about the school’s policy for accepting ACE credit recommendations before enrolling.

Remember that not all schools have the same policy or limitations for how to apply ACE credits. That's why it is in your best interest to shop around.

See our College Credit for Military Experience Page for more information.

What About Getting A Technical Degree?

If you are interested in getting a technical degree instead of a college degree there are programs available for you to gain credit towards a technical degree or apprenticeship available while on active duty.

Check with your base education officer for more information.

Learn more about the questions you need to ask before enrolling.

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits 

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, can help. Subscribe to to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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