FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Military personnel and veterans attending the University of Mary Washington will now be able to use skills gained during service as college credit and register for classes before other students.
The changes were prompted by an initiative from the state, passed by the 2012 General Assembly, to offer incentives to military-related students in higher education and make Virginia a more military-friendly state.
To comply with this change, all public colleges and universities in the commonwealth are required to adopt new policies related to registration and transfer credit.
The first resolution passed by the UMW board was to offer military personnel priority registration, meaning they will register for classes before all regular course selection.
The university also changed its policy on transfer credit for military personnel.
Before the change, one credit of physical education could be received for each year of active duty served. That benefit was limited to two credits, the amount needed in UMW’s general education requirements.
Students can now receive up to eight credits, one for every year of active duty service, which is most any student can count toward a UMW degree.
Military personnel can also receive credit for military training courses, such as their occupational specialty, at a maximum of 30 credits.
Currently that incentive is restricted to students of Bachelor of Liberal Studies, an adult completion program.
Now, students seeking a four-year Bachelor of Arts or Science can receive those credits on a case-by-case evaluation of their military service school courses and training.
Mary Washington also has a residency requirement, mandating that a large portion of class work must be done on campus. However, the school is waiving that for military students, who may have to change bases or assignments. Those students can learn remotely as long as those credit hours don’t hit the school’s transfer credit limit.
John Morello, associate provost for academic affairs who presented the program to the board, said many students who served in the military took in-depth courses, such as computer programming, that are relevant to their education at UMW and should receive credit for their work.
In the last three years, 98 students have sought credit for military training at UMW. Of those students, 90 were in the BLS program.
Morello said students can bring a DD–214 form, which is given by the armed forces to verify military service, or an active military identification card to career services to receive these benefits.
Another benefit of the program, he said, is that UMW will then have a better idea of how many military personnel attend the school.
“We have no idea how many students we have related to military,” he said. “No school does. They may choose not to accept benefits out of the military and by announcing these policies, they may come forward and then we will have a better idea of how many we have.”
These benefits will begin July 1, pending approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.