Military-affiliated students can save thousands of dollars on a degree by taking advantage of College Level Examination Program (CLEP) benefits.
An adult student who earns 15 CLEP credits to apply toward a degree could save nearly $5,000 at the average public 4-year institution and more than $17,000 at the average private nonprofit institution, according to the College Board website, with nearly 50,000 service members, eligible spouses, and civil service employees utilizing the program annually for college credit.
They can also save a lot of time, says Mark Haskins, Executive Director of Pierce College at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington.
“By taking DSST/CLEP tests, students are theoretically able to complete their entire first year of college with test taking,” Haskins said via e-mail. “I met a soldier once who earned over 40 semester credits through testing. Even though his college program did not accept all of them, he was able to complete his associate degree in just over a year, when the average for active–duty service members is about five years.”
Haskins added that among students working toward two-year degrees, taking CLEP tests increases the probability of completing their degree program by 17%.
Despite the advantages of taking CLEP and DSST tests, Haskins said there are some disadvantages to using the program. He said those who test out of classes miss out on other aspects of the college classroom experience. He also said not all colleges award credit for all, or any, CLEP and DSST tests.
“Therefore, if a student or service member knows which college they will attend, it will save them time and effort if they check first with that school what tests they will accept,” Haskins said.
Student who wish to take CLEP tests should pre-register. To take DSST tests, service members register at their testing center on the day of the test. They should specify their military status while setting up their account on the site and identify themselves as DANTES funded when purchasing a CLEP test. On test day, military identification cards are required.
The initial tests are free to active-duty service members, National Guard members, and reservists. DANTES also funds testing for Coast Guard spouses (active or reserve), along with civilian employees of the Air Force.
Veterans pay the cost of the test up front and are then reimbursed by Veterans Affairs. If the student fails a test, they must pay the cost of the test and administrative fee if they retest for the same subject test. In some cases, DANTES will run a limited-time promotion where a service member can retest for free, Haskins added.
“We have seen cases where students took the test cold, only to miss earning college credit by only one or two points,” Haskins said.
Haskins said students should study ahead of time for the tests and suggested the “Modern States” website that can be accessed for free.Read comments