Soldiers learn how to learn

Mar 18, 2009

FORT HOOD, Texas - Frances Judkins, an Army Education Services Division guidance counselor, spoke to a group of 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers ranked private to corporal about their educational opportunities at the 180th Transportation Battalion motor pool here, March 13.

Judkins informed the audience about Army Tuition Assistance, Go Army Ed, Functional Academic Skills Training, the Leadership Skills Program, Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System, the College Level Examination Program, and the new GI Bill.

"Every Soldier in this brigade should have at least an associate's degree," said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr., 15th Sustainment Brigade's Senior Non-Commissioned Officer.

He also assured the Soldiers that if they wanted to pursue their education, they would be given time to do so.

Judkins explained how they could reach their goals.

Army Tuition Assistance pays for a Soldier's tuition up to $4,500 a fiscal year and $250 per semester hour for classes that are part of a degree plan leading to an associate degree, bachelor's, or master's degree, she explained. Soldiers must pursue a degree higher than they already hold to receive TA.

Although Soldiers are permitted to work towards any level degree of their choosing, Judkins strongly advised they all start work toward an associate degree first.

Soldiers may choose to take traditional classes in the classroom or online with classes on the internet using "" Online classes can even be pursued while deployed overseas, Judkins said.

Army classes and experience can also be used to gain college credit through the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System which keeps records of Military Occupational Specialties held, military classes taken, and the council's recommended college credits for these, the education counselor said, Judkins said. Many schools require students to take a certain number of semester hours or credits from them before they will do a military evaluation for credit.

The Leadership Skills Program allows Soldiers to take short classes during the duty day for credit, Judkins told the Soldiers. The 37 classes available through the program include 15 computer classes which can also lead to Microsoft certification, Judkins said.

"If you speak a language other than English, you can CLEP for credit," she said.

The College Level Examination Program allows Soldiers a free way to test for credit in a wide variety of subjects. Even if the student fails, the only penalty is that they may not take the test again for six months, Judkins explained.

Judkins also briefly explained some of the important points of the new GI Bill. Unlike the old GI Bill, Soldiers do not pay into it, although Soldiers still on the old GI Bill may switch to the new one after 36 months of active duty service.

After a Soldier honorably separates from the service, the new GI Bill will cover their tuition, books and even basic allowance for housing subject to rank, number of dependents and the zip code of the college, Judkins said.

More information about the new GI Bill can be found at "".

Judkins encouraged Soldiers to ask and research their educational opportunities.

"If you do not ask, you may not get," she said.

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