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Plan passes Senate to streamline credit transfers for veterans

SPRINGFIELD — Returning servicemen often struggle figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit.

To tackle this hurdle, state Sen. Michael E. Hastings, D-Tinley Park, sponsored Senate Bill 736 to direct Illinois higher education institutions to establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training.

After talking to many returning veterans, Hastings found the current system is imprecise. This creates a complicated and inaccurate process to translate military experience into college credits at Illinois’ universities and community colleges.

There are a number of reasons for the confusion, the main reason being the descriptions for military training and college courses do not always match up perfectly. Also, military acronyms on transcripts may also mean different classes or curriculum based on each branch of service.

Often it becomes a matter of the higher education institutions willingness to research ways to find equivalent civilian academic courses, he said.

Hastings’ initiative will require community colleges and universities to submit their policies for awarding credit to the Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board for review before June 30, 2019, and before June 30 every other year afterwards.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 773,000 veterans are now using their GI Bill benefits to go to college, spending a collective of $11 billion a year.

“Repeating coursework promotes a slow and unnecessarily expensive educational process for veterans,” Hastings said. “Here in Illinois, we have workforce shortages for registered nurses, EMTs and other medical specialties. Who is better equipped than our returning servicemen and women to fill these job openings?”

Senate Bill 736 is now before the House for consideration.

 – From the Illinois Business Journal

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