Completing a college degree can be a challenge for many students, but it can be even more challenging for soldiers. Servicemembers typically move every few years, making it difficult to finish a degree program since they are at risk for losing credits every time they transfer schools. Lost credits mean they may have to take additional classes, which also means extra tuition and book expenses. They may also have trouble meeting graduation residency requirements which require that a student complete the last full-time year’s worth of credit at that school. In the past, servicemembers would often give up on their degree simply because they were unable to finish the program requirements due to PCS moves.
The military recognized this issue and as a result, the Department of Defense (DoD) and Active and Reserve Components of the Military Services created the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) program. The program was specially designed to meet the needs of servicemembers and their adult family members who wish to complete their associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
The SOC consists of a network of over 1,900 educational institutions around the country that have agreed to accept credits earned at other SOC schools. The SOC program gives servicemembers and their families an opportunity to complete a college degree without losing credits due to a PCS move. Students won’t experience an education setback and will be able to continue an uninterrupted path toward a degree, even if they leave the military during the middle of their studies.
The SOC network includes colleges and universities located near military installations around the world, as well as online institutions.
Some of highlights of the SOC program
Guarantee credit transfers of Degree Network System (DNS) course categories between schools. These courses are considered comparable by SOC member institutions and any college within the program will accept credit from those completed courses.
Reduced academic residency requirements. Typically a college will have an academic residency requirement. This requires students to complete their final full-year’s worth of credit at a school in order for them to be eligible to receive a degree granted by that school. Through the SOC program, academic residency is limited to no more than 25% of the total degree program. That means you only have to complete 25% (or less) of your degree requirements with your home college, and you do not have to complete them during your final year of study. If you attend a 100% online school, academic residency is limited to 30% for undergraduate degrees.
Expanded eligibility. Servicemembers and their dependents are eligible. Credits can be transferred even after a person is no longer enlisted. If you leave the military before graduating, you can still take courses and work toward your degree at your home college.
Credit for Military Training. SOC universities and colleges may award academic credit for Educational Experiences in the Armed Services.
The SOC network helps soldier-students achieve their educational goals. To learn more, visit the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges website.