The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Finding Military Financial Aid and Scholarships

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whether its preparing for a civilian career, frequent deployments, advancing your rank, earning your degree while serving your country, figuring out your GI Bill benefits or navigating the challenges of having a family member on active duty… there’s a lot to handle if you are a member of the United States military, a military spouse or veteran. This leaves you little or no time to identify scholarships or financial assistance.

Getting the financial aid you deserve can prove tricky to find, but there are an increasing number of scholarship opportunities and support available to service members, veterans and their families. For instance, did you know there are scholarships available for grandchildren of military members? Even specialized scholarships for each branch of the United States military?

So, if you are ready to further your education and reach your goals, read on to discover 17 resources and organizations that support veterans, military members and/or their families with the financial aid and scholarships that commitment and service to our Nation deserves:

The American Legion offers scholarships to children of members of the armed forces who are looking to pursue a college degree. In addition, the American Legion offers general, nonmilitary-based scholarships for students pursuing nursing degrees, students involved in outside organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, and more.

AMVETS (American Veterans) has scholarships available for active duty and guard/reserves military members and veterans. Children and grandchildren are eligible to apply for scholarships distinctive from those available for service members themselves.

Disabled American Veterans provides aid and financial assistance to disabled veterans and their families. Scholarships and grant opportunities are available to those who qualify.

Paralyzed Veterans of America assists military members and veterans who have become paralyzed, as well as spouses or children under the age of 24, who are dependent upon a paralyzed veteran.

Veterans of Foreign Wars conducts an annual, audio-essay college scholarship contest entitled “Voice of Democracy” for high school students. connects military members with the Military Tuition Assistance Program, which covers a majority, if not all, of a service member’s degree and tuition expenses.

USAA Educational Foundation offers multiple scholarship and financial aid opportunities, as well as financial aid planning, for those who have served, continue to serve and their families.

American Red Cross supports America’s military families each and every day by offering financial assistance and aid through donations and funds collected by the organization.

USA Cares exists to provide financial support and stability for service members by offering grants to help with financial needs during a financial crisis.
ThanksUSA has awarded more than $10 million in scholarships to deserving and hardworking members of the armed forces and their dependents through funds donated to their scholarship program.

Health Professions Scholarship Program through the U.S. Army offers qualifying students full tuition for any accredited medical program, plus a generous monthly stipend of more than $2,000. Scholarship Finder offers a comprehensive, user-friendly search engine to narrow down thousands of scholarship opportunities that match your qualifications.

National Military Family Association awards scholarships for military spouses of all uniformed service members. Scholarship winners can use the funds towards professional certifications, undergraduate and graduate degrees, licensure fees, tuition and more, so that they can better contribute to their family’s financial security.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation provides several need-based scholarships in honor of Marines and Navy Corpsmen from all conflicts and wars by educating their children.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers financial assistance for children and spouses of active duty and retired sailors and marines who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in the teaching profession or a medical-related field.

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Education Foundation supports Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel and their families with scholarships to afford service members and veterans the opportunity to attend accredited colleges and universities as full-time students.

Air Force Association provides degree-focused scholarships and grants for U.S. Air Force personnel and their spouses to pursue associate/bachelor undergraduate or graduate/postgraduate degrees. Recipients are selected based upon academic standards, good character, financial need and field of study.

There are many scholarships that recognize the service and sacrifice of active duty service members, veterans and their families. An additional resource is Scholarship and Financial Aid Explorer, which contains unbiased, comprehensive information to help you identify local and regional financial aid opportunities that best fit your personal educational goals.

For more information and sources on military scholarships, applications and eligibility requirements, visit the College’s Military Scholarships page.

Tags: Going Back to College , Military , Scholarships and Financial Aid , Veterans , Work-Life Balance

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Do You Have the Skills Necessary for Your Dream Career?

Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2014

By Roxanne L. Globis
Director of Alumni Affairs

Whether you’re looking to start, change or advance your career, career planning can get complicated.

And time consuming.

And confusing.

And a thousand other challenges.

However, if you create a plan, the more effective you will be in your job search. Let that plan help you research, discover and cultivate the skills you’ll need for your chosen career, and you can ensure success for the future you. Here are five online tools and career resources that can guide you every step of the way, from before you graduate to earning your degree, and beyond.

If you're looking to network with people at a specific company, industry or location, the LinkedIn Alumni tool makes finding (and connecting) with Thomas Edison State College alumni easy. Want more? Join the conversation and become a member of the College's student and alumni group.

You can build your pathway to career success with this robust tool that offers tips for job searching and links to national, state and local resources. It also includes the Military-to-Civilian Job Search tool where veterans and service members can search for jobs based on the skills and experiences gained in the military.

American Corporate Partners (ACP)
In a new partnership created earlier this year, Thomas Edison State College military students can utilize the services of this nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting service members in their transition from the military to the private sector. With the help of business professionals nationwide, ACP offers veterans tools for long-term career development through mentoring, career counseling and networking opportunities.

mySkills myFuture
This tools helps you find new occupations to explore. You can identify occupations that require skills and knowledge similar to your current or previous job, learn more about these suggested matches, locate local training programs and/or apply for jobs.

My Next Move
Explore your career options with this interactive tool that includes the tasks, skills, salary information and more for over 900 different careers.

What online career resources have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments!


Find more career resources by visiting

Tags: Alumni , Career , Military , Student Services , Veterans

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10 Signs You Have More College-Level Knowledge Than You Think

Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All too often, students think that only the courses taken sitting in a classroom will transfer as college credit. However, credit can be so much more than a list of courses on a transcript. Transfer credit can include professional licenses and certifications, military training and professional training. You can also earn credit through exams and portfolio assessment.

With so many options to earn transfer credit, students should really explore what works for them so they do not have to put their lives and careers on hold by taking courses that, chances are, they already know everything about. Your goal is our goal – to finish your college degree – and the more options you have, the quicker you’ll get there.

Here are 10 signs that you probably already have more college-level knowledge than you think. If at any point you stop and say, “hey, that’s me!” – just follow the links to learn how you can get earn those credits ASAP.

1. You brag about your professional license or certification.

You’ve already studied, taken a test and passed. If you possess a current and valid license and certification in one of more than 60 fields ranging from aviation to healthcare, law enforcement to business, you could earn college credit. The College’s Office for Assessment of Professional Workplace Learning, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)
have already evaluated and approved several licenses and certifications for college credit. You can find them organized by topic, here.

2. You show off what you learned after completing a training program for your profession.

If you participated in any apprenticeships and courses taken at your workplace, be it through a corporation, government agency, professional association or union, or any specialized training program, your professional license and certification may have already been evaluated for college credit. You can create a transcript of your training, with appropriate documentation, to send to the Registrar for review.

3. You’ve become the “in-house expert” at your organization on something.

Are you the person who trains new recruits? Or are you always the go-to person whenever a colleague has a question? It can be anything, from project planning to editing, or budget balancing to problem solving. Obviously, your colleagues already recognize your extensive knowledge, and you can too by documenting and equating what you know with a college-level course through portfolio assessment.

4. You have military experience or attended a military service school.

If you have military experience, depending on the military training documented in the Joint Service Transcripts (JST), transcripts from the Community College of the Air Force and the Coast Guard Institute or, you are a service member who left the military before 1886, you may be able earn additional college credit. Learn how you can submit official transcripts and receive credit, here.

5. You have taught college-level courses, for college credit, at a regionally accredited college or university.

Were you the primary instructor? Or the person responsible for determining and submitting course grades? There are instances where a regionally accredited college or university may employ a faculty instructor who is without a completed baccalaureate degree. There is a certain level of expertise in teaching such courses, and you can earn Credit for Courses Taught.

6. You practically have a second job volunteering in your community.

Do you volunteer beyond the occasional bake sale? Does your community service work read like a resume? Your extensive real-world expertise in a specific subject or content area can equate to what you would learn in a college course. If this sounds like you, then you may be a good candidate for portfolio assessment.

7. You are passionate about a subject and can’t stop reading (or talking) about it.

Whether you are a Civil War buff, or you have read every how-to book on leadership ever published, the knowledge you developed from your independent study could help you pass an exam for credit instead of taking the course. Look through the College’s TECEP® offerings, its own credit-by exam program, and other exam programs, to find out if your passion can earn you college credit by simply taking a final exam.

8. You live for your art (or just really, really enjoy it).

If you are a writer, painter, actor, musician, photographer, performer, artisan, sculptor, dancer - essentially, the creative type - you probably have a portfolio of work that demonstrates your talent or skill. Your achievements, whether they are on CDs or DVDs, printed in playbills, painted on canvas or written as online reviews, are an excellent source that demonstrates your knowledge. Your latest project could be your ticket to earning college credit through portfolio assessment.

9. You are much sought-after master in your hobby field.

Are you a respected hobbyist in a specific field? Have you written published articles about your interests? If your recreational activities and knowledge have placed you in an esteemed position, or your peers are looking to learn from you, you probably already know what would be taught in a college course. The expertise and skills developed through your hobby are perfect for portfolio assessment.

10. You have trouble fitting all your experience, skills, knowledge and work into a 1- or 2-page resume.

Your extensive background is filled with significant responsibilities and accomplishments that may not fit into 1 or 2 pages, but will work great in a multi-page portfolio assessment. Identify your learning and experiences that best equate to a college course by utilizing the College’s PLA Course Description Database to earn credit for what you already know.

College-level knowledge doesn’t only come from a classroom. And neither does credit. Find out more ways you can earn college credit for what you already know, here.

Tags: Credit by Exam , Going Back to College , Military , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Student Services , Transfer Credits , Veterans

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Going Back to College: How to Get Maximum Transfer Credit Towards Your Degree

Posted Thursday, October 03, 2013

Think long and hard on how you would answer this question:

Would you take the same course twice, if you didn’t have to?

Hopefully, you answered no. Or, even better, answered no way!

Then why not get maximum transfer credit towards your degree by applying a little extra effort?

There are several ways to ensure that you get the optimal amount of previously earned credit to fit into your curriculum so that you can quickly finish your college degree. As an invaluable planning tool, you’ll want your customized academic evaluation to be accurate the first time around to effectively assess which courses you have left to take. Education is never wasted, so here are some smart ways to get college credit for your hard-earned past efforts:

  1. Send official transcripts from every institution you have attended.
    Whether you attended a regionally accredited community college or a four-year institution, or multiple institutions, send all official, sealed transcripts of your past college credits for evaluation. Even if you attended five or 25 years ago, earning a grade of C or better. If you feel unsure how the credits might apply, send the transcripts regardless. They may be better suited to a specific course objective, or a different degree program should you change your mind. Credits don’t expire.
  2. Submit official, notarized copies of all licenses and certifications.
    You may already possess specialized licenses and certifications for your workplace, and not only will you be able to earn college credit for them, but some degree programs actually require them. The complete list is extensive; it includes everything from pilot’s licenses to real estate licenses, nuclear regulatory certifications to testing certifications, and more. The list of licenses and certifications reviewed by ACE (American Council on Education) and NCCRS (National College Credit Recommendation Service) are continuously being updated, and yours can end up saving you lots of time.
  3. Submit official transcripts or documentation of any professional training, programs and courses.
    Any apprenticeships or courses taken in your workplace, through your company, government agencies, professional associations or unions, are also evaluated for college credit. Many of these specialized training programs, like military or EMT training, or online course programs like Straighterline, have already been reviewed by ACE and NCCRS, and through Thomas Edison State College’s Office for Assessment of Professional and Workplace Learning. These credit-awarding organizations, particularly branches of the military, require individual transcripts and documentation, so make sure you submit the proper paperwork to guarantee your efforts didn’t go to waste.
  4. Submit all official examination or credit-by-exam scores.
    If you took CLEP exams, the College’s own TECEP program, or another accredited testing option, make sure your final scores are recognized. The content reflected in the tests demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills equivalent to that of students who learn the material in a college classroom, thereby earning you credit towards your degree.
  5. Determine how your knowledge acquired outside the classroom can apply toward your degree program.
    Prior Learning Assessment, including portfolio assessment, demonstrates that what you already know is equivalent to the course objectives that would have been learned in an equivalent course. Your past work, independent reading and study, training programs or in-service courses, volunteer service, cultural or artistic pursuits, hobbies and recreational pastimes, community or religious activities, organizational memberships, adult education, non-credit courses, study abroad, military training not evaluated for credit by ACE, or other experiences enables you to develop a portfolio for this knowledge, and potentially earn credit for it.

Ultimately, your goal is to leverage all that you bring to this endeavor, which validates the work you have completed and the expertise you have developed. Understanding how to transfer the maximum amount of credit can be a key to success.

Want to learn more about the many ways to earn credit for knowledge obtained in noncollegiate settings? Check out our Methods of Learning and Earning Credit section.

Tags: Academic Evaluation , Credit by Exam , Going Back to College , Military , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Transfer Credits , Veterans

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Learning in the Field

Posted Monday, December 17, 2012

Warren Gramm, mentor at Thomas Edison State College
Warren Gramm, mentor at Thomas Edison State College

by Warren Gramm
Mentor, Thomas Edison State College

Prior learning assessment (PLA) at Thomas Edison State College is designed to help students gain college credit for knowledge gained through real life experiences. As a mentor for the College, when I consider that, I can't help but gravitate towards the many students that have had success through the music PLA credits they've earned while serving our country in the armed forces in locations throughout the world.

Many adult learners are actively engaged overseas and are at the same time demonstrating for me their music backgrounds and capabilities. I wish that more members of the armed forces bands knew that it is possible to gain college credit for what they already know!

Many students enrolled in Thomas Edison State College pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree program in Music are playing the music of famous composers on a daily basis. While gaining real world experience serving our country, they are also gaining valuable experience in the music field.

In my mind, there is no better way to learn about Mozart and Beethoven than by playing their music. It is important to know what a literary resource might tell you about these musical giants, but to play their compositions add a substantive personal connection.

Please take a moment to read about a student, Reginald Hennessy, who has benefited from the PLA program.

How has the ability to gain college credit in music while you are serving overseas enhanced your career?
In the Army, college credit translates as promotion points. We are always looking to find ways to better ourselves to make the best of our time. We will not be in the army forever and we need to have opportunities for jobs on the outside of the army. Unfortunately (usually), music credits have to be done in house at your college. The ability to do the class online takes away the wait to get back to the states to finish our degrees.

What was the most challenging part of doing your music PLAs while serving overseas?
Time! Balancing a full time career with going to college is hard for anyone but being overseas it seems to a bit harder. We have to be mission ready while we keep our daily work up to date on top of your personal commitments. Postal Services are slower allowing less time with the materials you need.

Besides college credit, what else did you gain from the experience?
Knowledge, even though it’s a PLA you still learn something. As I went through the course I listened to the artist I was writing about or the time period. I learned that no music is dead, and artists are still writing in every genre or time period today. Most notable Gregorian chant with the group Gregorian: Masters of Chant. It is interesting to see their take on popular music.

The PLA program has awarded credit for college level knowledge to band directors, band members, and some of the finest musicians that our nation has to offer.

While serving in the military is something that should be highly applauded in and of itself, through our PLA program we are able to recognize the great life learning experience that the armed forces bestows upon its members. If you're currently serving as a musician in the armed forces, contact Thomas Edison State College to see if you can benefit from the PLA program! Contact the PLA Office at the College at [email protected].


Tags: Majors and Degree Programs , Mentors , Military , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Veterans

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