TA Alternatives: Ways to Earn College Credit

Is it possible to take free online classes for college credit? Is it possible to get college credit without taking a class? The answer is yes! If you are a military member searching for no or low cost alternatives to gaining college credit while pursuing your degree, the resources below may prove to be a viable option for you.

1. CLEP and DSSTs Testing

Reserve, Guard, and Active Duty military members seeking a two- or four-year degree, are able to earn college credit by taking CLEP and DSST exams. The initial administration of any exam test title is free and online material is available to help you prepare. Talk to your college or university to find out which exams are appropriate and will transfer into your degree program.  Depending on your school’s acceptance policy, CLEP and DSST exams can be a great way to reduce the number of college courses you need to take while earning your degree.

For more information and access to study material, visit DANTES .

2. Military Experience

Did you know that if you completed your initial military training, you already have college credit? Your professional military education, training, and occupational experiences have been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and given college credit recommendations. Your school may be able to apply these credits to your degree. To view your credits on the Joint Service Transcript (JST) visit https://jst.doded.mil/ . Air Force personnel can access http://www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf/transcripts.asp for more information.

3. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Do you have military or civilian work experience that should be applied towards your degree? Ask your college or university advisor about how you can demonstrate your college-level knowledge and competencies through PLA. Many schools have options for students to complete exams, develop a portfolio, or have their military and workforce training recognized for college credit.

4. NCPACE for Navy Personnel

Are you a Sailor currently on a sea duty assignment? If so, the Navy College Program provides Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) which allows Sailors on sea duty assignments to continue taking college courses from accredited colleges. NCPACE provides both academic skills and college (undergraduate and graduate) courses. While these courses are tuition-free, Sailors must pay for textbooks and related course materials. Talk to your education center counselor and visit: http://www.navycollegepace.com/

5. DLPT exams

Are you fluent in English and another language? If so, you may be eligible to take the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for college credit. Talk to your college or university about applying ACE evaluated DLPT scores to satisfy foreign language, humanities, or elective credit requirements. Your Service’s local or virtual education center will be able to refer you to DLPT testing availability near you.

For additional DLPT information visit: http://www.dliflc.edu/dlptguides.html

6. Free Online Courses

To address rising tuition costs, leading colleges and universities are partnering with organizations to create massive open online courses (MOOCs) that offer free online college level coursework. While ACE is working with organizations like Coursera, to evaluate the coursework and offer college credit recommendations, students need to discuss this option with their school to ensure that the courses will count towards their degree.

Follow ACE as their MOOCs initiative progresses.

7. Lower Your Tuition Costs
If you are currently at an academic institution that is costing over $200 per semester hour, consider temporarily transferring to a lower cost institution for a few courses as a "transient student”. Traditionally, transient students took courses at other schools during the summer that transferred back to their university. If you need to lower your college funding costs, consider taking courses at a local community college or university, to transfer back to your university to satisfy degree requirements. Your local or virtual education center will be able to assist you with your local or Servicemembers Opportunity College Degree Network System (SOC DNS) options. Your school’s academic advisor will also be able to assist in making sure you have the right documentation to apply the courses to your degree.

Visit your local or virtual military education center counselor today to discuss the best options to continue your education.





This article is by Taheesha Quarells, the Education Project Manager at DANTES. With over 10 years of experience, she is dedicated to expanding academic and career development opportunities for military members, veterans, and their family members.