5 Questions for Active Duty Military to Consider When Choosing an Online School

Online School Question for Active Duty Military

  • Is the School Accredited?
  • How does an online degree program work?
  • How much time will be required?
  • What benefits can be used?
  • How can enrolling in an online program affect my housing stipend?

There are a number of questions that need to be considered when choosing an online school. Some are obvious, such as whether or not the school offers the degree program you’re interested in, if you can get credit for work experience, and of course, cost. Here are five more questions that should be considered before enrolling in any program.

Is the School Accredited?

Accreditation is a process by which colleges and universities are evaluated based on standards set by a peer review board. One such board is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which accredits online institutions. By attending an accredited school, you can be assured your undergraduate degree will be recognized and valued by employers and recruiters.

How does an online degree program work?

This is an important consideration when choosing your online school because online class formats vary between schools. There are three basic types:

1. All Online – Lectures are delivered online, live or prerecorded. Terms are divided into quarters or semesters, and credit is earned for completion of assignments and tests. Assignments must be completed on a set schedule, with all work for the course completed by the end of the term.

2. Competency-based – These classes provide students with all necessary materials and allow them to study at their own pace. Advancement is based on content mastery.

3. Combined online/traditional – Study is done primarily online, but some in-person class attendance at a physical location will be required.

Ensure the school you choose offers a format that works with your individual learning style and needs.

How much time will be required?

Independent study is the cornerstone of online education. It requires motivation, commitment, the discipline to keep to a schedule, and a lot of study time. Be sure you are ready to spend a good portion of your off-time to studying before choosing to attend an online school.

What benefits can be used?

Not every online program will accept GI Bill benefits. The GI Bill Comparison Tool can help you find one that does. Simply fill out the form and it will provide you with an overview of what your benefits will cover. Additionally, you can contact the veteran point person at the university you’re interested in to understand how your benefits may be impacted.

How can enrolling in an online program affect my housing stipend?

Per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, utilizing Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits while taking only distance-learning courses at least half-time will result in receiving a housing allowance based on 50% of the U.S. National average. Part-time students may not receive any housing stipend at all, though this can vary from state to state. Another determinant is based on the living expenses of the ZIP Code of the school’s physical campus, not the actual location of the student. Ensure you understand exactly how your enrollment status can affect your housing stipend by checking with the veteran point person at the university you’re interested in or with the base military education service office before choosing your online school.

Service men and women looking to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree face a number of issues unique to their situation, whether it’s choosing the right degree program, the right study format, or the best option when utilizing their GI Bill benefits. With the resources available online, on base, and through universities, active duty military students should have all the information they need when considering their choice in online schools.

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