Getting Started Checklist

Congratulations! You have decided you want to start school or continue on your education path. With the vast amount of resources and information, it is important that you research your options so that you can find the best school for your needs.


Where to begin:

What do you want to study? What is your goal?

Are you interested in attending online or brick & mortar?

Review the list of 1900 Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) schools

         Why choose a SOC school?

    1. Approximately 1,900 appropriately accredited colleges and universities providing associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees for service members and their adult dependent family members
    2. Military-friendly institutions with flexible policies that allow mobile service members and their families to complete degrees rather than just accumulate course credit
    3. Reasonable Transfer of Credit: avoid excessive loss of previously earned credit and avoid course work duplication
    4. Accept credit for nationally recognized tests, such as CLEP


     Complete listing of consortium schools:


Check that the schools you are interested in have proper accreditation

“Accreditation is review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials and employers know that an institution or program provides a quality education.” -Tim Willard, Senior Director of COM for Council of Higher Education Accreditation

It is one of the most important items that you should research when choosing a school. If you do not attend a school with proper accreditation, the value of your degree can be diminished. It can affect transferability and getting hired.

         Primary to check: Regional Accreditation

         Secondary: National Accreditation

How to search:

         Department of Education:

         Council of Higher Education Accreditation:

Meet with an advisor to create a successful academic plan

Determine if your life commitments allow for a full time schedule vs. half time schedule

         Even though you may have openings in your day at the time of registration for a full time schedule, look at forecasted events. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Will your service member be deploying?
  • Will your children have activities that require extra time?
  • Will you be moving?
  • Will you need to work throughout the semester?

Explore the various funding options

Annually, Spouses’ Clubs, branch aid societies, and private organizations offer scholarships for spouses. Check out our funding page for up to date deadlines:

Fill out your FAFSA through the Department of Education

Evaluate if you have prior learning that can count for credit


Still have questions? Email the Military Spouse Education Initiative at or follow us on Facebook at:


Leave a Comment