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“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
— United States Veterans Affairs motto
In 2008, The Ohio Board of Regents (now Ohio Department of Higher Education - ODHE) released the Strategic Plan for Higher Education. The plan laid the educational cornerstone for Ohio’s commitment to its men and women in uniform and veterans. The Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) instructed its institutions to “accept credit received through training and experience in the United States Armed Forces or National Guard, as long as it has been approved by the American Council on Education or a regional accrediting body, such as the Higher Learning Commission.” (page 59 of the Strategic Plan)
The plan was put into action beginning in 2009 with the passage of House Bill 480. Also known as the Ohio GI Promise, HB 480 sought to “make Ohio the most veteran-friendly state in the country for higher education.” HB 480 encouraged veterans from across America to bring their families to Ohio to enjoy the state’s excellent colleges and universities by allowing qualified veterans and their dependents to skip the 12-month residency requirement needed to receive in state tuition at Ohio’s public college and universities.
In 2011, OBR formally proposed in Directive 2011-004 that state institutions of higher education adopt an official policy for the awarding of college credit for military training and experiences. The policies were to be based on the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. The directive also required that “credit earned via military training, experience, and coursework, are transferable… according to the state’s Transfer Module, Transfer Assurance Guides, Career-Technical Credit Transfer, and transfer policy.”
In June 2013, Gov. John R. Kasich signed Executive Order 2013-05K to support Ohio’s veterans by ensuring they are receiving the appropriate credit and credentialing for their military training and experience. This order directed state boards and commissions to streamline the state licensing process to take into account relevant military education and to simplify the process for awarding college credit for military education for veterans and service members. It also sought to streamline the occupational licensing process for veterans and ensure that their relevant military education, skills training, and experience are taken into account when determining equivalency for issuing licenses and certificates.
2014 saw the creation of two very important pieces of policy and legislation.
Directive 2014-22 was drafted to create a baseline set of standards and procedures for the awarding of college credits for military training, experience, and coursework for veterans and active duty military. It also dictates that there will be transparency and consistency in determining how much credit would be awarded and transferred within the state’s higher education institutions. It also prescribes specific training for faculty and staff to better administer these support services for veteran and active military members.
House Bill 488 required Ohio’s higher education institutions to further support veterans and service members as they ease into academic life. First, the schools adopted a single point of contact on campus, provided priority registration, and support policies, such as surveying service members and veterans to identify their specific needs. The bill allowed for establishment of student-led groups to be organized on campus, and the integration of existing career services to help veterans find work and social opportunities. Also, schools could no longer charge fees to grant college credit for military experiences, and must ensure that appropriate equivalent college credit is given for military training, experience, and coursework. In the picture to the right, current OTTA Executive Director and former Director of Ohio Department of Veterans Services Tim Gorrell (center) presents Richard DeChant and Michael Carrell pens from the signing of HB 488 in appreciation of all their work.
The State of Ohio offers many academic programs to support military service member as they work towards their higher education. Here is a list of some of the available assistance from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
CLEP exams were created to help individuals with prior knowledge of a college-course subject earn college credits toward a degree efficiently and inexpensively. CLEP exams cover introduction-level college course material. With a passing score on a CLEP exam, military service members or veterans could earn college credits at an Ohio institution of higher education. Currently, the Department of Defense through the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) will pay for eligible service members, Coast Guard spouses, and civilian employees of the Air Force to take each CLEP exam one time. Every public college and university in Ohio has created cross-reference documents that show which CLEP tests are aligned to what course at a respective institution. They can be found here. Additional information about the initiative can be found here.
CLEP is a program administered by College Board, which also administers the Advanced Placement program.
Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAGs)
Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAGs) are a statewide set of standards that guarantees that certain types of military training, experience, and/or coursework will align to existing college and university course(s). MTAGs are currently aligned to other statewide course equivalency initiatives in the state. Those initiatives are Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT2) which covers career and technical education (e.g. nursing), Ohio Transfer Module (OTM) which covers general education requirements, and Transfer Assurance Guides (TAGs) which covers beginning and pre-major courses. An interactive list of applicable military training and its alignment to specific college course at institutions can be found here.
MTAGs are only a small portion of courses that might align to college credits. This is why each institutions is required to evaluate all military training, experience, and coursework for potential alignment with their own courses and programs. Students should meet with the Military Credit Contact at their institution to have their experiences evaluated for credit.
To earn potential college credit for training, experience, or coursework received while in the Armed Forces, military service members will need to submit the Joint Service Transcript (Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard) or Community College of the Air Force transcript to the admission office of a higher education institution. If there is any coursework that carries a statewide guarantee (MTAG), that credit and course equivalency information will be automatically granted. For other training, experience, and coursework, military service members will need to self-advocate by meeting with an academic advisor, faculty advisor, or transfer credit specialist to having the military coursework evaluated. Some alternative methods to this evaluation process could be utilizing an institution’s credit-by-exam options (test out of certain courses), and portfolio assessment (assemble a portfolio of training to apply it to a specific course or degree requirement). Some institutions will award general education or degree specific credit based on pre-deployment training, or multi-cultural training received while in the Armed Forces (credit for overseas deployments). If applicable, please make sure to ask the higher education institution if they award credit for this and what documentation is required.
Resources on Campuses
Veterans Service Office (Benefits Assistance)
The Veterans Service Office is the place on campus where veterans can go to access the benefits that are available to them. The office will act as the liaison between multiple offices on campus and the veteran or service member. Some of the services include the evaluation of military transcripts for college credit, career services, and priority course registration. Depending on the size of the institution, the office can be freestanding or located within the confines of another office on campus. Find the Veterans Service Office contact here.
Single Point of Contact
The Single Point of Contact is an employee designated by the college or university as the contact person for veterans and service members’ affairs. This person is available to help access their institution’s services for veterans and service members.
Military Credit Contact
This is the person on campus who is responsible for making sure that military transcripts are received and evaluated so that all applicable military training and education can be transferred for college credits. The military credit contact is the person who will handle requests to resolve disputes about the credit awarded for previous military experience. This person is usually located within the institutions registrar’s office, records office, or transfer office.
War Orphan and Severely Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship
This scholarship awards tuition assistance to the children of deceased or severely disabled Ohio veterans who served in the armed forces during a period of declared war or conflict. A recipient must be an Ohio resident and enrolled in full-time undergraduate study to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree at an eligible Ohio college or university. Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 25 to apply. Applications are due in the month of May.
Ohio Safety Officers Memorial College Fund
This program provides tuition assistance to Ohioans who are the children and spouses of peace officers, fire fighters, and other safety officers, who are killed in the line of duty, anywhere in the United States. The fund also provides assistance to the children and spouses of a member of the armed services of the U.S., who has been killed in the line of duty during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or a combat zone designated by the President of the United States. The child is only eligible for this program if he/she is not eligible for the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship.
Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program
This program provides tuition assistance to Ohio National Guard members attending a two- or four-year public college or university. Participants must commit to and/or complete a six-year enlistment in the Ohio National Guard. New enlistees must complete basic training and obtain a military job skill to qualify for a scholarship. ONGSP scholarships are available for both full-time and part-time students who are actively enrolled in at least three credit hours or more of coursework. Scholarship program recipients must maintain good attendance at their unit drills; excessive absenteeism is cause for discharge from the Ohio National Guard. Deadlines are spread out throughout the year.
Military and Family Initiatives
Military Interstate Children’s Compact
Ohio, along with all of the other 49 states, participates in the Military Interstate Children’s Compact (MIC3). The goal is to “support successful educational transitions for mobile military students.” Every member state has adopted a series of guidelines that extend reciprocity for high school graduation requirements. The goal is to make it simple for children of active duty and recently retired service persons to graduate high school despite the differing graduations requirements from the different states that they lived in. More information can be found here.
As stated earlier, the GI Promise grants in-state tuition rates to qualified veterans and their dependents in regard to residency requirements for state-supported institutions of higher education. Once an Ohio address is established, veterans and their dependents can skip the 12-month residency requirement to receive in-state tuition rates. This is regardless of whether qualified individuals have ever been Ohio residents.
Current and former member of the U.S. military also receive federal higher education support through the GI Bill. Ohio’s 529 Plan shares how 529 college savings programs work in conjunction with GI Bill benefits.
We owe much to our country’s military. The State of Ohio is proud to support of all members of the armed forces and veterans. The state offers these higher education support programs and many more services as a thank you for their service.
Posted on November 21, 2019