Tips for Advising Military Students
The Military Service voluntary education counselor is a key advisor to potential military students and their family members who are identifying their education goals and degree options. For many of these students, SOC DNS member institutions may best meet their needs for degrees that reflect the policies of Degree Network System program—a home college, limited academic residency, acceptance of non-traditional credit, formal Student Agreements and, for many degrees, guaranteed transferability for specific courses in SOC DNS Course Categories.
The materials on this page provide tips and tools for anticipating the distinct needs of military students and how SOC DNS member institutions address these issues.
The SOC DNS Handbook
The SOC DNS Handbook is a resource for the voluntary education counselor in helping the military student or family member understand the advantages of pursuing an undergraduate degree from a SOC DNS institution. The Handbook will help address the following issues of concern to the military student:
- Anticipating the mobility required of military service.
Choosing a SOC DNS institution as a home college will help the military student or family member earn a degree with minimal loss of credit when duty stations change.
- Making decisions about what college to choose as a home college.
While talking with college counselors is an essential part of the military student’s decision process, Chapter 3 of the SOC DNS Handbook is designed to provide the military student with information that can help the student make informed choices. The Handbook provides information about member colleges, degree programs, methods of course delivery, and school policies—as well as points-of-contact for college staff who know and understand the SOC DNS.
- Receiving a formal evaluation of prior learning and remaining degree requirements.
For degrees listed in the Handbook, military students should receive a SOC DNS Student Agreement from the home college after completing no more than two courses with the college. Chapter 2 of the Handbook provides information about the policies governing Student Agreements and directions for colleges in completing them.
- Understanding guaranteed transferability among SOC DNS member institutions.
The guaranteed transferability for specific courses offered by member institutions is an important advantage to military students and family members in making progress toward degree completion. SOC DNS Course Category Codes identify courses with this kind of pre-arranged transferability. Transferability policies are outlined in Chapter 5 of the Handbook and the SOC DNS Search Tool on the SOC website provides searchable listings of categorized courses by college and SOC DNS Course Category Code.
- Moving to a new duty station.
Chapter 4 of the Handbook lists all SOC DNS colleges by location and Network. Military students and academic counselors can cross-reference the information contained in this chapter with the Transferability Tables to find courses at their new location that are guaranteed to transfer back to their home college.
DoD Resources for Counselors
- College Navigator – An interactive website that allows the user to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, campus crime statistics and more.
- The College Scorecard - The U.S. Department of Education’s tool to make it easy to compare important information such as college costs, average student loan debt, and graduation rates across different institutions.
- DoD Tuition Assistance (TA) DECIDE – This DoD dynamic information and comparison tool is designed specifically to aid participants of DoD’s Tuition Assistance (TA) program in making informed choices on schools and education programs.
- DoD Voluntary Education – DoD Voluntary Education and Military Tuition Assistance programs offer resources and tools to help servicemembers and their family members plan their education.
- Military OneSource – Provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to active duty, Guard, and Reserve servicemembers (regardless of activation status), and their families. It is a virtual extension of installation services.
- VA GI Bill Comparison Tool – Learn about education programs and compare estimated benefits by school.
Financial Aid Resources
SOC does not provide financial assistance, but military family members often qualify for grants, scholarships, or tuition discounts from various organizations and academic institutions. Listed below are links to a variety of financial aid resources for spouses.
- Federal Student Aid — Free information from the U.S. Department of Education.
- DANTES Financial Aid and Scholarships — A list of financial aid resources for military family members.
- Military Spouse Career Advancement Account — Helps fund training in “portable” career fields. (Not available to Coast Guard spouses).
- Department of Veterans Affairs — The Post 9/11 GI Bill includes a provision that allows eligible servicemembers to share their benefits with family members.
- National Military Family Association