Field Notes: Evaluation of military and veteran student credit

February 4, 2019
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • Transfer and Articulation
  • Veterans and Service Members
GettyImages-471097946 "Field Notes" is a regular Connect column covering practical and philosophical issues facing admissions and registrar professionals. The columns are authored by various AACRAO members. If you have an idea for a column and would like to contribute, please send an email to the editor at connect@aacrao.org.

by Dana Howard, Associate Registrar, and Ria Woods White, Associate Registrar, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide

At the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) National Conference, on March 26, 2018, in Orlando, Florida, Dana Howard and Ria Woods White, Associate Registrars with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) - Worldwide, shared an interactive session entitled “Resources for Evaluation of Military and Veteran Student Credit.” In this presentation, they discussed the military and veteran student population at their institution, the unique types of transfer credit presented to their academic evaluation teams, specialized military programs designed to serve this population and the resources available to their team of Academic Evaluators to make sound judgments on converting military to academic credit.  

Military and veteran students at ERAU - Worldwide
With nearly 25,000 active students, ERAU-Worldwide offers degree programs to a diverse, largely non-traditional student population via its 135+ learning centers and a robust online division.  While “working professionals” is the term often used to describe our students, approximately sixty percent of the total student population is actually comprised of active military personnel and veterans.  

Military credit
Veteran and active military students submit completed coursework via different documents based on the branch of service the student served or currently serves.  These students bring service school, military experience, and National Exam scores, as well as transfer credit, when seeking admission to post-secondary institutions. 

The American Council on Education (ACE) is the preferred authority for translating military “credit” to academic “credit” as they will review all pertinent aspects of that training, including duration, location, content and time offered, and present those findings to academic intuitions with recommendations for credit hour equivalencies and areas of application for evaluated credit.  ERAU-Worldwide will subsequently evaluate against their curriculum and award, as appropriate, any ACE recommended credit from all branches of the military, including:
- Air Force
- Army
- Coast Guard
- Marines
- Navy  

Preferred military coursework documents
The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) documents transcript credit much like traditional post-secondary institutions.  The CCAF transcript is available to current and former Air Force service members, and includes academic coursework and college credit by exams, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES/DSST exams dates.  CCAF coursework is relatively easy for evaluators to review, as they publish a catalog with course descriptions, very much in the traditional college or university style.  

The Joint Services Transcript (JST) details the service school and military occupation coursework of students who served, or currently serve, in the other branches of service, including the Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.  Marine personnel are sometimes required to submit Individual Training Standards System (ITSS) Maintenance Training Management and Evaluation Program (MATMEP) paperwork to validate their military occupation coursework listed on the JST.  Though the JST does provide credit conversions to standard academic credit values based upon ACE review, the content and format of the JST is very different from a standard transcript, and may prove confusing to the uninitiated evaluator.  

Academic evaluation life cycle
With ERAU-Worldwide campus terms starting each month of the year, the evaluation life cycle in the Office of the Registrar is relatively straightforward:
1. Prior to matriculation, the New Admission Evaluations team in the Office of the Registrar evaluates new application packages received from Admissions, who forward them only after all prior transcripts are received.  Maintaining the applicant file in admissions until the institution receives all transcripts is preferable to forwarding transcripts piecemeal to the Office of the Registrar and prompting multiple re-evaluations.  
2. Once the academic evaluation is complete, the student’s campus location is notified via email and they launch the course registration process.
3. After matriculation, the Continuing Student Evaluations team evaluates any newly submitted additional academic documents, including national tests, additional permissible academic credits, etc.
4. When the student becomes degree complete, the Graduation Evaluations team generates the final student evaluation, which is then housed in the permanent imaged file.

Student information system input/output 
The question most often asked at the presentation was how military credit is entered into our student information system.  At the Worldwide campus, evaluators review transcripts and advanced standing documents and promptly enter transfer equivalency rules in Campus Solutions.  Though it takes a bit longer to make the equivalencies right away, it maximizes accuracy and minimizes inconsistencies when equating and awarding credit down the road.  Next, evaluators add credit to the student’s record and enter military specific data in a custom academic evaluation page.  From there, a custom academic advising report is generated, and subsequently saved to our imaging system.  Our customized academic advising report format is Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) compliant and ready to submit to any appropriate government agency.  

Specialized military laws and programs that evaluators should know
  • GoArmyEd – Supports active duty Army and Army Reserve as a one-stop site that assists soldiers, Army education counselors and schools with conducting business. ERAU – Worldwide dedicates a full time staff person to support this program.
  • Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) – Provides educational opportunities to service members impacted by frequent relocations, allowing them to complete course work at other SOC participating institutions.
  • Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) – Allows military students to request review of the circumstances involving an absence from the University due to active duty military service.  
  • Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) – Helps enlisted Air Force students by linking the Associate’s Degrees they earn through the Community College of the Air Force to specific bachelor’s degrees.  ERAU – Worldwide maintains a category 1 membership, meaning that following completion of their CCAF AAS degree, eligible students can be required to take no more than 60 credits with ERAU – Worldwide in specified programs to complete a Bachelor’s degree.  

Academic evaluator resources
ACE Military Guide - For learning attained outside of a traditional classroom, including military experience, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University strictly adheres to the recommendations of the American Council on Education (ACE).
The ACE National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training – Contains ACE credit recommendations for formal courses or examinations offered by various organizations, from businesses and unions to the government and military.