Earning an education can be a difficult thing for Servicemembers and their families. With being transferred to different duty stations there is a lot of starting and stopping and it makes for getting an education a bit more difficult than for most people. That is why the association of Servicemember Opportunity Colleges, or SOC, exists. It is a group of about 1700 universities, colleges and schools working together to try and make conditions for Servicemembers and Servicemember families easier to attend school.
If you are on active duty and transfer locations frequently, it can be hard to maintain focus and study. The Association of SOC is funded with money from the Department of Defense, and administrated through DANTES. The schools have agreed to try and pool their resources, and to find ways for Servicemembers to attend classes despite the hardships of being on active duty serves. SOC member schools join together in working to simplify credit transfers, and to eliminate or reduce residency restrictions, to allow more students on active duty to participate. Many SOC schools offer distance learning programs as well as on campus individual courses and degree programs. They publish a “SOC Guide to the Consortium” which has information about each of the member schools, their programs, the SOC representative for each school, and their policies. Polices for each school on subjects such as ACE credits and Credits by exam, and CLEP testing are covered in the SOC Guide.
All five branches of the Armed Forces participate in the SOC program. Universities and Colleges on or near Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, and Army facilities offer programs of study and degree programs and the SOC member schools guarantee to accept credits from each other schools in transfer. There are opportunities to choose a specific college concurrent with Army Reserve or Army enlistment. This is called the ConAP program.
The Air Force has its own programs in the Community College of the Air Force, so their participation in the SOC program is a little different, but the Air Force is a SOC member and agrees to accept and honor credits and transfers under the general SOC program.
There is also an In house benefit in the bill working its way through Congress, which will allow
Colleges to offer in-State tuition to Servicemembers and their families, along with additional scholarship monies for Servicemember families. The Bill is House Bill 4137, and is currently under review in the Senate, but promises to give even further assistance to military families.