Karen and Jeff dated all through high school. After graduation, Jeff enlisted in the Air Force. Karen left for college. At Christmas during her sophomore year, Jeff asked Karen to marry him and offered her an engagement ring. She initially hesitated, admitting that she was afraid she’d never finish her education due to Jeff’s frequent military moves. However, she quickly agreed to plan a summer wedding once he told her about the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges consortium.
According to the National Military Family Association, many spouses worry about two big problems every time they accompany a military member who’s deploying to a new location. The first is finding a new job. Fortunately, the military services provide various kinds of help with that.
Many military spouses also fear that each time they move, they’ll have to start their education all over again. However, they now have the option to earn a college degree by attending any school that’s a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges consortium.
What is the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium?
The SOC came into existence in 1972. Its original objective was to help service members complete college degrees as they moved from one assignment to another.
Today, military spouses and other family members can complete their degrees by taking classes at any of more than 1,900 colleges and universities that are members of the SOC. Their program is essentially the same as that offered to service members. Veterans are also eligible to participate.
The Department of Defense funds the SOC through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) manages the contract.
How It Works
A service member, spouse or other dependent initially selects a home college from those schools that are members of the SOC consortium. It’s important to make sure that an institution offers the specific degree desired before selecting it as the home college.
SOC students are required to complete a reduced academic residency. Twenty-five percent or less of degree requirements – depending on the school – must be completed through the home college. For degree programs offered entirely online, the figure is 30 percent.
The SOC educational opportunity also awards credit for non-traditional learning. This includes credit for military experience and results from standardized tests like CLEP and DSST so long as it’s pertinent to the military spouse’s degree program.
The home college issues each student a contract for a degree. It includes an evaluation of credits completed as well as remaining requirements for the degree. SOC colleges and universities normally furnish this contract by the time the military spouse has completed six hours of credit. Both the student and the college execute this document.
All schools that participate in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Degree Network System as core institutions agree to guarantee the transfer of courses. This means that courses students complete transfer to their home college without prior approval.
One of the advantages of the Servicemembers Opportunity College consortium for military spouses is the variety of locations in the United States and overseas where courses are offered in addition to online classes. Participating colleges offer classes for associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees on traditional campuses, armories and military installations.