The House Veterans Affairs (VA) Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing yesterday to look at "Defining and Improving Success for Student Veterans" and the current state of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina (UNC) System—where 8,000 students use VA educational benefits—presented testimony at the hearing on behalf of ACE.
In response to questions from committee members, Ross provided suggestions for how the new GI Bill comparison tool at the VA could be further improved. The tool was created under the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act, which was signed into law last year.
He also testified about a new policy soon to be implemented for the UNC System which will state that any student who has spent at least two years in the military will automatically be considered a "transfer student" in the admissions process. The military service branch will be considered the "transfer institution of record" and the Joint Services Transcript will be the starting point for evaluating the veteran's military training for possible academic credit.
This best practice helps ensure that institutions are reviewing the Joint Services Transcript, and the ACE credit recommendations it contains, to help veterans receive credit for their prior learning experiences and speed their time to degree.
In her remarks, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) highlighted the importance of granting college credit for military training as an effective tool in helping ensure that veterans are able to complete their education in a timely manner, particularly in the STEM fields. She noted that businesses often talk about the shortage of Americans who have the skills needed to compete in the 21st century economy, and veterans are particularly well positioned to help fill this gap.
Titus is currently working on a bill that would provide grant funding to help colleges and universities set up bridge programs for veterans to fill the academic gap between training received in the military and college course requirements to facilitate the awarding of academic credit for relevant training in the STEM fields.
For more information and a webcast of the hearing, see the VA committee website.