With all the articles in the news lately about for-profit schools, with their deceitful practices ripping off veterans and military member students using their GI Bills, it is refreshing to hear that the Servicemember Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium has drafted and accepted a Military Student Bill of Rights. The SOC Consortium is a network of over 1,900 education institutions that promise to adopt and bide by consortium rules and governing policies of which the Bill of Rights is one.
In a nutshell, the Military Student Bill of Rights1 says that all military students – active, SEL RES or veterans – who are attending an SOC-approved college or university, have the basic right to:
- - Accurate information about a school’s programs, requirements, accreditation, and its potential impact on course transferability.
- - Access basic college/university information and fees without disclosure of student personal information.
- - Educational planning and career guidance without high-pressure registration and enrollment efforts from institutions.
- - A clear and complete explanation of course/program enrollment procedures and all resulting financial obligations.
- - Explore, without coercion, all financial aid options before signing up for student loans or other financial assistance.
- - Accurate scholarship information, free of misleading ‘scholarship’ offers based on military tuition assistance.
- - Appropriate academic screening and course placement based on student readiness.
- - Appropriate, accessible academic and student support services.
- - Clearly defined institutional “drop/add” and withdrawal policies and procedures including information about the impact of military duties (e.g., mobilization, activation, temporary duty assignments) on their academic standing and financial responsibilities.
- - Clearly defined grievance/appeals processes.
These specific rights clearly focus on providing honest and satisfactory practices in three areas:
- student services.
As part of the consortium, SOC institutions also agree to provide adequate access to the range of student services, including:
- - admissions,
- - financial aid,
- - academic advising,
- - delivery of course materials,
- - competency testing,
- - course placement,
- - counseling.
Another long-standing part of the SOC consortium criteria has assured military students attending these schools will have these four things:
- have a reasonable transfer of education credits, which prevents losing credits and repeating classes when changing schools.
- have a reduced academic residencyrequirement, meaning no more than25% of a degree requirement would have to be taken in classroom classes on campus.
- the school will accept credits issued for military training and experience in accordance with the ACE’s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services.
- the school will honor credits for nationally-recognized testing programs, such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), DSST Examinations, Excelsior College Examinations (ECE).
Check this state-by-state listing to see if your current or proposed school is part of the SOC Consortium. If it is, you can trust that you will be treated fairly. If it isn’t ask questions – lots of questions!
Note 1: Military Student Bill of Rights provided courtesy of the SOC Consortium.