The SEA’s Desk – February 2015

Recently, many of our Service members have been told that it is time to “go home.” Service draw-downs, Enlisted Review Boards, and Officer Continuation Boards have unfortunately become force shaping tools generating pink slips for thousands of Service members. This, coupled with our nation’s financial difficulties and unemployment, has many Service members rightly concerned about their futures. All of us possibly know someone we have served with who is experiencing this uncomfortable feeling.

The reality is our Armed Services are reducing personnel in response to congressional mandated budget cuts and targeted reduction of military spending. What can you do to help those Service members you lead? What can you do to help yourself? Hopefully, you are investing your off-duty time in education and credentialing. Doing so enables you to speak from experience and helps set you as an example for others to follow. A college education or credential can help your immediate career and promotion opportunities, and place you in a better position for future civilian vocations.

Don’t know where to start? Take these steps to reach your educational goal:

  • Schedule a visit with an Education Services Officer (ESO) either personally or virtually. Also, do someone a favor; take a buddy or the person you’re mentoring with you.
  • If you are unsure what interests you or what you’re best suited for, make an appointment with an ESO to take an assessment/interest inventory test like Kuder® Journey.
  • If your vocation of interest requires a college degree or credential, seek advice to determine which school programs may best suit you.
  • Request a Joint Services Transcript (JST)reflecting American Council on Education (ACE) recommended military college credit for Service schools and training that could save you time and money.
  • Visit DANTES website ( to identify exams you can take (DSST/CLEP) to reduce required credits for school. These tests are provided free to Service members the first time they are taken and can significantly reduce the amount of college credit needed to achieve an education goal.
  • For a refresher on your college math and English, check out the Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) and the College Placement Skills Training (CPST). Both are self-paced and customized to you. These courses are at no cost to Service members and their family members 24/7
  •  Register for Tuition Assistance. Keep in mind that you must have an approved college plan and that you should choose a school that maximizes DSST/CLEPs and recommended ACE military credits to achieve your degree.

Remember: it’s never too early to start on the path to education success. Get started now!

In closing, this column affords a unique opportunity to reach out to my fellow Service members concerning Voluntary Education and DANTES programs. If there is an opportunity to visit or speak to NCOs, SNCOs, or at events at your military installation–please let me know, I would appreciate an invite. If you have a success story with military Voluntary Education that you would like to share, send it to me and maybe you’ll see it published in this forum. Until next time, contact me at I would enjoy hearing from you.

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor
For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) website

Top FY 2013 Military CLEP and DSST Pass Rates

Knowing how military examinees score on CLEP and DSST exams allows military students to target the best options for earning college credit by examination. Taking these exams help service members save time and save tuition assistance dollars. During FY13, pass rates for military members have continued the recent trend of steadily increasing. Overall pass rates have increased from 50% to 61%, which is an 11-point improvement in the pass rates among all of the Services.
Military students score highest in the subjects of Principles of Supervision (DSST), Spanish Language (CLEP), and Analyzing and Interpreting Literature (CLEP). More military students take CLEP exams as compared to DSST exams, with the Air Force being the largest group of test takers. Check out the top 10 exam pass rates for FY 2013 below:

Test Type
Test Title
Pass Rate
Principles of
Spanish Language
Analyzing and
Interpreting Literature
College Composition
Introduction to
French language
Technical Writing
Business Ethics and
Introduction to
Information Systems
and Computer Applications
Environment and
Principles of

To view the FY13 pass rates for all DSST and CLEP exams visit the DANTES Web site at

New DSST Exam Launches in 2014

It is hard to think of any aspect of our daily lives that is not impacted by potential threats to cyberspace. Organizations spend billions of dollars each year to protect sensitive data and resources, yet hardly a day passes without news of a cyber-attack with resulting loss of business or personal data. Prometric is pleased to announce the launch of a new upper-level DSST exam in early 2014 - Fundamentals of Cybersecurity. Students can earn 3 ACE recommended semester hours of upper-level college credit if they take this exam and pass it. Fundamentals of Cybersecurity, includes content related to major topics in Cybersecurity including Application and Systems Security, Implementing Authentication and Authorization Technologies, Compliance, security pertaining to networks and physical environments and vulnerability management. The upper-level exam will be available in early 2014 and more information will be made available once the exam is launched.

How can this exam be used? Well there are a variety of Information Technology and Cybersecurity degrees and certificates available. Military members should contact their local or virtual education center counselor to find out which certificate or degree program is right for them and if taking this exam will be beneficial. This exam may be applied to other degrees as well. Your counselor will guide you through which CLEP and/or DSST exams will help you earn college credit while saving on college costs and reducing your time to degree completion. For more information on Cybersecurity careers check out

Here is a 1 minute video to show you how taking a DSST College Credit Exam can help you.





Using Your Post-9/11 GI Bill on Active Duty

Thinking about using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for college while on active duty? With temporary suspensions of military tuition assistance (TA) programs, many service members have considered tapping into their veterans education benefits.  The GI Bill is a valuable tool that can help you continue pursing your education goals. However, there are important distinctions between your benefits as veteran and as an active duty service member.

Differences in Active Duty Benefits

  • While serving on active duty, military members will not receive full Post 9/11 benefits. As a veteran, benefits include:
  • Payment of tuition and fees, sent directly to the school
  • Monthly housing allowance sent to the veteran
  • A stipend for books and supplies sent to the veteran
  • A one-time $500 rural benefit for certain veterans

However, members on active duty (or their spouse if benefits were transferred) will only receive payment of tuition and applicable fees paid directly to the school. While active duty members are now eligible for the book stipend, there is no additional housing allowance.

Funding Eligibility

How much money you receive is based on your time in service and the type of institution you are attending. When the Post 9/11 GI Bill was changed in 2011, active duty military member funding eligibility was affected. Instead of all active duty members receiving 100% funding for tuition and fees, the percentage of maximum benefits paid is based on your years of service. Basic eligibility includes individuals who served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after September 10, 2001. For those who have been on active duty for less than 36 months, the following table represents the percentage of tuition costs you can expect to receive:

Member Serves: Percentage ofMaximum BenefitPayable
At least 36 months 100%
At least 30 months, but less than 36 months 90%
At least 24 months, but less than 30 months 80%
At least 18 months, but less than 24 months 70%
At least 12 months, but less than 18 months 60%
At least 06 months, but less than 12 months 50%
At least 90 days, but less than 06 months 40%

Note: The active duty time does NOT include basic and initial skills training until you reach 24 months of service.

If you have served 36 months or more, you are eligible to have all in-state tuition costs funded at any public university. If you are attending a private school, there is a national maximum cap of $18,077.50 (excluding AZ, MI, NH, NY, PA, SC, TX) per academic year. If your private school’s cost exceeds the national cap, you may be eligible to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Impact on Remaining Benefits

In addition to what and how much you receive, using your GI Bill while on active duty does impact the rate at which you use your benefits. Unlike military TA, where funding is based on actual costs ($4,500 per fiscal year cap), VA education benefits are based on months of eligibility (generally 36 months). For example, if you use $750 of TA for one class (generally, 3 semester hours) in a traditional semester (15 weeks), you would have $3,750 remaining for that fiscal year. If you took the same course and used the GI Bill to cover the costs, VA would pay the $750. However, taking three credits in a traditional semester (15 week semester) would be considered 1/4 time. Therefore, you will be charged accordingly (15 weeks = 105 days x .25 = 26 days of entitlement deducted from your 36 months of benefits). Also, you would receive the book allowance ($41.67/SH), based on level of entitlement (40%-100%).

As you can see, there are several factors to consider when choosing to use your GI Bill benefits. The VA offers a Fact Sheet and GI Bill comparison chart to assist in making an informed decision. If you are just starting school, search this site and talk to your Services local or virtual education center counselor for alternate ways to earn and pay for credit college credit before accessing your GI Bill. If you are close to completing your degree, your counselor may be able to recommend courses with shorter terms (5 to 8 weeks) to reduce the months of GI Bill benefits you use at a time.

Visit the VA or call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) for more information on their education benefits.