To get the most mileage out of your GI Bill, there are certain “tricks” or secrets you must know and implement. Each one goes a long way to getting you the most bang for your GI Bill buck.
Secret #1 – Claim credit for your military experiences and training
As a veteran student, don’t overlook having your military service evaluated for credit that you can use towards your college education. Claiming military service credit saves you GI Bill benefits by reducing the number of credits you still need to take to receive your degree.
The American Council on Education (ACE) recognizes the educational value of military training, so they are continually evaluating and updating military training courses and occupations to keep up-to-date in determining the number of credits each are worth and how they apply towards a degree.
To get your credits evaluated, as a veteran, you can complete and submit a DD-295 Application For The Evaluation of Learning Experiences During Military Service and a copy of your DD-214 Discharge Form to your GI Bill school. Once your school receives your request, it will calculate how many credits you have earned and how they will apply them to your degree plan. If you no longer have a copy of your military record, you can request a copy from the National Archives.
Many veterans overlook using The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) credit-by-exam program as a fast track towards a college degree. DANTES extends your new GI Bill benefits by you not having to take classes, but you still get the credit if you pass the exam.
DANTES offers three types of exam categories – College Level Exam Program (CLEP), DANTES Subject Specialized Tests (DSST) and the Excelsior College Exams (ECE). These three categories are designed so you can use your military training, along with some studying, and pass introductory-level college tests on subjects of your choice instead of having to attend the class.
Secret #3 – Choose a GI Bill friendly school
It pays to shop around when you have military service and DANTES credits to transfer in. Not all schools treat transfer credits the same. While very little credit may transfer in at one school, many more may at another school. The less GI Bill benefits you have to spend taking classes to get your degree, the more benefits you will have left to use in the future.