Every year we have a chance to take a moment to reflect on the courage, hard work, determination, and sacrifice our country’s veterans have selflessly provided to maintain our country’s freedom. Each member of the armed services is required to take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United against all enemies foreign and domestic.” This oath of service is a commitment to themselves and also the citizens of the United States. To honor our men and women in uniform and veterans, the State of Ohio has committed itself to becoming the friendliest state in the nation for this population. One way that this is being accomplished is by higher education initiatives through the Ohio Department of Higher Education. These initiatives support those in uniform, our veterans, and the families of veterans and active-duty military.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
College Level Examination Program (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.
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 institution 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 have the military coursework evaluated. 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 functions 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.
Collegiate Purple Star Campus Designation
The Collegiate Purple Star designation is an award earned by public and independent colleges and universities that meet certain criteria set out by the Ohio Department of Higher Education to be considered a military friendly institution. To earn the designation, institutions must show that they have the resources in place to support the military-connected population and follow the criteria set forth by the Collegiate Purple Start Advisory Committee. Some of the criteria include, having a dedicated military and veteran point of contact/office, priority registration for veterans and service members, and the disallowing of fees to evaluate and award college credits based on military education and service. The Ohio Department of Education administers the Purple Star Designation for k-12 school districts that show a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
Hidden Heroes Scholarship
The Hidden Heroes Scholarship awards funding to the eligible caregivers of disabled veterans to help them pursue their higher education at participating institutions. The funding can be used towards tuition, fees, books, and assist with credit transfers. To be eligible, caregivers must be enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) and provide care to a veteran who has a 100% service-related disability. Recipients must also be a resident of the State of Ohio and not be in default on any federal student loans.
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 other 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.
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 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.