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How the GI Bill® Can Help You Advance Your Education

by South University
December 7, 2018
A photo of two South University nursing students in their commencement garb.

Many military members know that the GI Bill®* can help them pursue their education, but the details of GI Bill® benefits and eligibility are lesser known. So what is the GI Bill®? First passed in 1944 and since revised many times, the GI Bill® encompasses multiple education benefit programs provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While each program’s eligibility and benefits vary, over the years, the GI Bill® has helped millions of qualifying servicemembers, veterans, and their families further their education, training, and skills.

GI Bill® Benefits for College Degrees

Military members and veterans can use GI Bill® benefits for undergraduate degree or advanced degree programs. You can also use the GI Bill® to pay for multiple degrees if you have remaining benefits after your first degree. For example, you might pursue an undergraduate degree in Psychology and then a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

In cases where the GI Bill® does not fully cover college tuition, Active Duty, Reservists, or National Guard members may qualify for Department of Defense (DoD) funding such as Tuition Assistance or Top-Up benefits, which can cover part or all of the remaining tuition costs. Some states and/or schools also offer military scholarships/grants. Beyond these DoD and VA education benefits, you may qualify for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

When using DoD or VA benefits, it is important to know your benefit limits and that eligibility may depend on successful course completion.

Major GI Bill® Benefit Programs & Eligibility

Post-9/11 GI Bill®: The Post-9/11 GI Bill® provides up to 36 months of education benefits for servicemembers who have served on active duty for at least 90 days after 9/10/2001 or were discharged with a service connected disability after 30 consecutive days. Honorably discharged veterans awarded a Purple Heart after 9/10/2001 can also qualify.

Individuals entitled to 100% of this benefit may have their entire cost of tuition and fees covered and paid directly to your school. In addition, you may qualify for a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and book and supplies stipend. Active duty members may be able to transfer unused benefits to a dependent or spouse. See www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp for more information.

Yellow Ribbon Program: The Yellow Ribbon Program can assist veterans with 100% Post-9/11 GI Bill® eligibility whose tuition and fees exceeds the VA’s annual cap. Once you reach this cap, the VA and the participating school each cover half of the remaining tuition and fees until the new cap year begins (August 1 – July 31). (Select South University programs may be subject to a maximum yearly tuition & fee reimbursement.) Fry Scholarship recipients as of 8/1/2018 are now eligible to participate in the Yellow Program. Child transferees of active duty servicemembers may be eligible if the servicemember is qualified at the 100% rate. See www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/yellow_ribbon.asp for more information.

Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty: Servicemembers who have paid into this benefit while on active duty may have a significant portion of their tuition and fees covered. This program can provide up to 36 months of education benefits paid directly to you, so you will need to work with your school on a financial plan. To qualify, servicemembers must have an honorable discharge and meet other eligibility requirements set by the VA. For more information, visit www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/montgomery_bill.asp.

Montgomery GI Bill® Selected Reserve: This program provides up to 36 months of education benefits. It is intended for members of the Selected Reserve and National Guard who have enlisted or re-enlisted in the Selected Reserve with an obligation to serve 6 or more years after June 30, 1985. To be eligible, you must complete initial active duty for training (IDAT). Eligibility expires upon leaving the Selected Reserve. This benefit is also paid to you monthly, so you’ll need to work with your school on a financial plan. For more information, visit www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/mgib_sr.asp.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment: This program supports eligible servicemembers and veterans with service-connected disabilities. Designed to help you prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment, it may cover the entire cost of tuition and fees. Before receiving this benefit, you will meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to develop an education plan. For eligibility details or to contact a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/eligibility_and_entitlement.asp

Fry Scholarship: This scholarship provides the Post 9/11 GI Bill® to children of servicemembers and surviving spouses of Armed Forces members who died in the line of duty after 9/10/2001. Qualifying individuals may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level as well as a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and a book and supplies stipend. For more information, visit www.benefits.va.gov/gibill or www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/docs/factsheets/fry_scholarship.pdf.

Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA): DEA provides educational assistance to spouses and dependents of veterans who have died or are totally and permanently disabled as a result of their service. This benefit pays directly to the student, so you’ll need to work with your school on a financial plan. For more information, visit www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/survivor_dependent_assistance.asp.

Using Your GI Bill® Benefits at South University

To learn about using military and VA education benefits at South University, visit our Military Benefits page or view our Military Brochure. When you request information online or call South University at 1.888.444.3404, we’ll connect you with a team member who specializes in supporting military students as they prepare to pursue a college degree.

*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

by South University
December 7, 2018
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Tips for Transitioning from the Military to College

by South University
September 21, 2018
A photo of South University faculty member teaching a college course.

After leaving the military, earning a degree is a strategic way to prepare you for your next career move. Of course, any transition this big involves a lot of questions and decisions, so we’ve compiled a few tips that can help along the way.

1. Pick a program and learning style that’s right for you.

Look for a program that matches your interests and strengths while also preparing you to achieve your professional goals. If you're considering multiple programs, reflect on what you liked most about your military career. What civilian careers offer those same aspects? To help you decide, ask schools for details on program curriculum and outcomes.

If you need to balance school with family and work obligations, choose a program where that’s possible—whether that means learning 100% online, taking evening classes on campus, or perhaps mixing both online and campus-based learning. Whatever you do, remember that your military benefits are limited. Make the most of them by choosing a program you’ll stick with.

2. Discuss your military benefits with financial aid representatives.

Once you’ve researched schools and programs, be sure you understand your military education benefits and the availability of any additional military scholarships.

At South University, our financial aid officers will guide you through the financial aid process and exploring your options. When discussing your benefits, ask questions and pay attention to the details, including payment limitations and timing. If a school isn’t experienced in working with military students and veterans or their military benefits, then that school may not be right for you.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.3. Ask about transfer and experience credits.

Veterans bring invaluable experience to the classroom and your school should recognize that. Look for a university that will evaluate your Joint Service Transcript or corresponding official service transcript to determine if you can receive college level credit for your prior learning and military training courses. South University also recognizes credit from non-traditional educational sources such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams. Taking advantage of such opportunities can save you time and money.

4. Create a plan for your success.

You’re used to direction and structure from the military, and now you need to create that structure for yourself. Give yourself deadlines for making progress on course assignments and follow a regular schedule for studying and doing coursework. Success starts with making a plan and sticking to it.

5. Get help when you need it.

In the military, you knew you could count on the people around you. You were part of a team working together with one goal. The same is true in school. Your success is the mission, and, at South University, you’ll be surrounded by people ready to support you, from tutoring to academic advising to helping you navigate library resources in person or online. As you approach graduation, career services can also to help you find and pursue positions that match your goals.

Remember, learning in the classroom, online or in person, will be a different experience than learning in the military. That’s okay. No one expects you to excel at everything or go at it alone. Help is available; all you have to do is ask.

6. Don't neglect your physical and mental health.

Leaving the military is a challenging transition, no matter what you're planning to do next. To minimize your stress levels as a student, always leave room in your daily routine for taking care of yourself! Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right will help you stay at the top of your game in and outside of the classroom. We also encourage all veterans to explore the mental health resources available through their local Department of Veteran Affairs.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.7. Connect with others who’ve been in your shoes.

Look for and get to know other veterans at your school from the start. The Student Veterans of America is also a great resource. In both instances, you’ll find other veterans who understand your struggles and successes and who may have advice to help with the transition. Whether you attend South University classes online or on campus, know that you’ll have many ways to connect with classmates with shared interests and talk outside the classroom.

8. Get involved with student life.

Student veteran organizations are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Even if you’re nervous you might not belong, push yourself to join student groups and participate in school activities. Soon, you’ll realize how many people also feel out of their comfort zone. At South University, our diverse student body includes many adult learners, with a variety of life experiences, who are going to college for the first time or returning after many years away. Befriending your college peers can give you a sense of community, and you'll gain more people to check in on you, encourage you, and talk to about your schoolwork or your goals.

To talk with the military admissions specialists at South University, call 1.888.444.3404 or request information online.

by South University
September 21, 2018
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What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016

Keeping our communities and our country safe is a key focus of everyone in criminal justice. Of course, what that looks like in practice depends on the career you pursue and whether it’s in law enforcement, correction, politics, or law. Across the board, however, a few things hold true for those exploring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice.

Education and Experience Can Help You Stand Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), numerous careers in criminal justice may see 4% job growth in the coming years. This includes, Detectives and Criminal Investigators and Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. Others, like Private Detectives and Investigators, Bailiffs, and Police Patrol Officers, will experience an average growth rate around 5% to 8%.

As with any job and depending on location, applicants may face competition for desirable positions. (Median annual salary for criminal justice roles mentioned above ranges from $41,000 to over $77,000.) The BLS especially anticipates strong competition for Private Detective and Investigator roles.

In competitive job situations, a candidate with a criminal justice degree and work experience may be most likely to catch the eye of a potential employer. For example, for Police and Detective positions, the BLS says that “applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the best job opportunities.” For Probation Officer and Corrections positions, as well as employment within federal agencies, a bachelor’s degree is often required.

Technology is Increasingly Important across Professions

If you’ve been researching or studying criminal justice online, you likely know that technology has a drastic impact on the field.

On one side, there’s an array of valuable technologies. These take many forms, including connected database systems, automated license plate readers, and handheld biometric scanners used to identify suspects. In some locations, criminal justice workers currently carry tablets and smartphones that make it easier to access and distribute information. Such tools will only improve in the years to come.

Criminal justice professions under increasing scrutiny are also turning to technology like social media to build trust and demonstrate transparency in their communities. Although privacy concerns are still being debated, GPS systems and body cameras are also being introduced to support both safety and accountability in criminal justice professions.

Meanwhile, others apply technology for harm, with the The Department of Justice describing cyber crime as "one of the greatest threats facing our country" and Business Insider reporting that “the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks are at an all-time high.” When it comes to jobs, cyber crime is driving employment trends, with the BLS noting that “Internet scams, as well as other types of financial and insurance fraud, create demand for investigative services.” Such crimes are expected to continue at local, national and even global levels.

What to Look for in Criminal Justice Programs

While we’ve already noted that a criminal justice degree can help when applying for jobs, it’s also essential that students select the right program.

Your criminal justice degree program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) will determine program length and curriculum, but all criminal justice degrees should share some foundational elements. First, anyone considering criminal justice courses or comparing criminal justice curriculums should look for programs that explore the importance of technology in this field. Equally valuable are criminal justice courses that address ethics and topics related to race, class, and gender. Finally, soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution should also be taught throughout a criminal justice curriculum.

Whether you prefer studying criminal justice online or on-campus, South University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that can prepare you for working in today’s changing field. Explore our criminal justice programs online or contact us today to learn more.

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016
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Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

by Jared Newnam
November 10, 2016

Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

When it comes to college, not everyone finds the right fit the first time. Maybe your degree program no longer excites you or your current school isn’t as supportive or flexible as you’d hoped. Perhaps you took a break from college, and you’ve decided to finish what you started. Whatever the case, transferring college credits to a new school is sometimes the best choice for completing your degree.

The following tips can help you create a plan for transferring your credits and finishing your degree.

  1. Set aside time to research programs and contact your target schools.
    Once you pick what type of program you want, you’ll need to see what schools offer the program near you on campus or online. If you’re switching schools but want to stay in a similar program, be aware that program names may differ slightly across institutions. You’ll need to dig into the program details or ask an admissions representative to ensure you understand the program outcomes.

    While you’ll likely find programmatic information online, everyone’s academic history is unique, so you’ll need to speak to the admissions team about your eligibility for transferring credits. Your easiest and fastest option will be talking on the phone or in-person to avoid a long, complex email chain. Make sure to come prepared for these conversations by gathering documentation, including transcripts, to make sure you can prove you’ve completed courses or training.

  2. Ask schools about their transfer policies.
    Transfer of credit policies and procedures will vary by school and often involve minimum grade requirements. Schools typically require that courses you transfer for credit have similar descriptions and outcomes to the courses they offer. In addition, some schools may be able to take your diploma, certificate or associates degree and apply those credits towards a bachelor’s or even master’s level degree program.

    Sometimes two schools may have an articulation agreement--a document that describes what courses students may transfer from one school to the other in specific programs. While an articulation agreement between two schools can make transferring credit easier, you’ll still want to review the document carefully and contact a school representative for specific questions. Most community colleges will have articulation agreements in place with traditional, 4-year institutions.

  3. Don’t overlook non-traditional sources of transfer credit.
    Having prior college experience isn’t the only way to earn transfer credit. If you’ve been in the military, you may qualify for military experience transfer credit, as most military training courses have been evaluated for academic credit by the American Council on Education (ACE).

    Other non-traditional sources include exams that assess whether what you’ve learned from the military or other professional experiences may be deemed equivalent to college credit. These exams include the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams.

    Let the schools you’re considering know if you have military experience or are researching the CLEP or DSST exams, so that they can advise you on how to move forward.

  4. Transfer credit policies should not be the only factors driving your decisions.
    It’s easy to get caught up in the focus on transferring credit, but picking a school should be a fully thought out decision. Treat the process the same as if you were looking for a new school from scratch. Be sure to ask about accreditation, financial aid, academic support resources, faculty credentialing and access, alumni success, career services, class scheduling and anything else that might be important to you in a new school. Was there something you didn’t like about your last school? If so, avoid running into that same problem again.

  5. Considering transferring to South University? Let’s arrange a time to talk.
    If you’re thinking about transferring colleges, consider South University. Backed by a tradition of over 100 years, South University allows you to earn your degree online or on campus, with classes led by qualified and supportive faculty who are always ready to lend a hand. We are driven to help you succeed, so our transfer of credit policies are designed to make the most of the effort you’ve already put into your education. Request information online to learn more today.

Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. South University offers no guarantee that credit earned at another institution will be accepted into a program of study offered by South University.

by Jared Newnam
November 10, 2016
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Transfer of Credit: 5 Ways to Qualify and Shorten Your Path to Graduation

by South University
April 9, 2015

Did you start school at another institution but had to withdraw before graduating? Maybe you’re currently enrolled elsewhere and beginning to think about switching schools. Or perhaps you’re preparing to earn your degree and you’re hoping your professional experience or prior knowledge can give you a head start.

Transfer of Credit: 5 Ways to Qualify and Shorten Your Path to Graduation

Either way, South University believes what you already know and the progress you’ve already made toward earning your degree should not be ignored. We’re happy to evaluate your past schooling (including associate’s degree programs) and experience to see if you qualify for a transfer of credits.

While there’s a limit to the total credit hours you can transfer toward an undergraduate degree at South University, transfer credit is a great way to reduce your total cost and save time earning your degree. Five types of credit transfers available at South University include:

1. Credit from Previous Courses

Earn credit for courses you’ve already taken at an accredited college or university. If the course was offered at South University or compatible with the university’s distribution requirements, you may be eligible to earn credits for grades of a C or better. You may also be able to receive course credit if you achieved AP credit with a high score.

2. Military Training and Experience

If you’re a veteran or active duty member of the military, your training and experience may have already earned you credits toward your degree. Discuss your training, coursework and occupational specialty with your academic and admissions team to see if you qualify.

3. Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DSST)

Get credit in more than 30 areas for knowledge you’ve acquired outside a traditional classroom setting, by taking an exam to see if you’re eligible to receive college credit. Exam fees are as low as $80 and can help you save time and money by not having to sit through courses you’ve already mastered.

4. College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Take a CLEP exam and have your results sent directly to South University to see if you’re eligible to receive college credit for the skills you’ve gained on-the-job or in a non-traditional educational setting. Each exam is $80, but can help you earn your degree in a much quicker and more cost effective manner.

5. American Council on Education (ACE) Certifications

The ACE College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) helps experienced professionals earn college credit for formal courses and examinations taken outside a traditional classroom. ACE also includes military training. Talk to your Academic Counselor about any training you’ve already undergone that may qualify as transfer credits.

Learn More about Transferring Your Credit!

Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by case basis. South University offers no guarantee that credit earned at another institution will be accepted into a program of study offered by South University.

Want to know more? Call us today at 1.888.444.3404 to speak with our Admissions team about what credit you may be eligible for and how that credit could you help complete your degree program in less time!

South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

by South University
April 9, 2015
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