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Experience equals credits

Local colleges accept military training

Clover Park Technical College offers veterans a variety of career paths. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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For servicemembers and veterans, educational opportunities for advancement are close at hand.

Two local colleges, Clover Park Technical College and Pierce College, offer excellent programs designed to help servicemembers and veterans obtain a college degree or certificate.

When using their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, current and past servicemembers should also ensure that they receive credit for time served in the military.

While many are aware that service in the military can help pay for technical or academic schooling, many veterans still incur significant student loan debt. One way servicemembers can reduce this debt is to claim military service as part of their educational work.

When exploring the educational opportunities at Clover Park Technical College or Pierce College, be sure to bring your joint services transcript, a document that the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines use to translate military training into civilian language and possible credit.

For Air Force servicemembers, contact the Community College of the Air Force for documentation.

Once done, select a school that recognizes and accepts these transfer credits.

To learn more about this process, visit the American Council on Education's (ACE) website at acenet.edu.

The ACE, which represents 2,000 educational institutions, is a nonprofit advocacy group for colleges and universities that has been working with the military since the 1950s to get veterans credit for their military experience.

While colleges and universities are not bound to accept the council's credit recommendations, they generally do, said Cathy Sandeen, vice president for education attainment and innovation at ACE.

"More and more colleges and universities are adapting their processes because everyone wants to do a better job of serving our veterans," Sandeen added.

Once a school that considers your military experience is selected, review your transcript alongside the ACE's military guide to get an idea of which credits may be accepted.  

Submit your joint service transcript and any other transcripts to your school of choice.

Meeting with an academic advisor is well advised.

With 56 degrees and 56 certificates in a variety of practical career fields, Clover Park Technical College's Veteran Resource Center provides veteran navigators who help servicemembers define and complete their educational plans.

"It's a matter of giving them the resources, giving them the knowledge and giving them the push," said Shawn Durnen, a former navigator who now works as a regional coordinator for the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Veterans Resource Center is located in Building 22.  For more information, visit cptc.edu/veterans.

At Pierce College's Fort Steilacoom, Puyallup and JBLM campuses, servicemembers can receive direction at the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

The center was ranked 9th out of the 20 best two-year colleges for veterans.

"Pierce College is honored to serve military veterans and their families," a college spokesperson wrote. "We pledge to serve veterans and their families by providing support services and referrals to help veterans achieve their higher education goals."

For more information, visit pierce.ctc.edu/dist/veterans/cevss/index.php.

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