[Revised December 6, 2011]
New DoD Voluntary-Education policy likely to have unintended consequences.
According to recent reports the DoD's Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding policies and procedures are forcing several schools to reconsider accepting military students who wish to use their TA benefits.
The schools complain that the MOU forces participating colleges and universities to subject themselves to increased DoD inspections, payment procedures, and new rules for transferring credits between schools, granting academic credit for military training and residency requirements for servicemembers. Many schools feel that the MOU restricts their academic authority.
While the institutions of higher learning may be rightfully concerned that the MOU infringes on their academic authority, the DoD MOU also has revenue impacts that some schools may be concerned about. For example, the MOU requires schools to accept credit card payments from the DoD for tuition. Considering the costs associated with such a large balance, the impact could reduce the school’s revenue. In addition, accepting more military experience credit (ACE) recommendations and relaxing residency requirements can also hurt the bottom line.
School’s -- whether for-profit or non-profit -- count on their revenue to pay administrative salaries, operational expenses, and reinvest in their schools. Not to mention that it also covers student support programs such as veteran centers, counseling services, and the added cost of processing the additional federal paperwork.
It is important to note that the DoD released a clarifying policy statement to try to soften the restrictive legal language of the MOU’s less popular restrictions and policies. However, many schools are wary of the policy statement because they fear it is non-binding. Many see the MOU as the DoD overstepping their authority.
The issues go beyond academic authority and money.
To varying degrees many of the schools that are pushing back, already accept transfer credits, military experience (ACE) credits, take credit cards, and adhere to the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) consortium guidelines and the Military Student Bill of Rights.
For many smaller schools the issue is also about not being staffed to evaluate the ACE credit recommendations or send the DoD the required information such as degree plans and course registrations in a timely manner, making it nearly impossible for them to meet the DoD's requirements.
Many current military students stand to be hurt if the DoD cannot come to a compromise with the schools. Let's hope they get the message before it is too late.