By Jason Scholte
In keeping track of those Veterans I work with, it looks like the Army is edging out the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp, and Coast Guard in total number of Veterans opting to use their GI Bill benefits to study overseas.
Over the last year we have seen a strong increase in applications from recently transitioned Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Coastguard choosing to earn a degree from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Approved Foreign University.
While it’s not an easy task, many Veterans I speak to are really enjoying their time abroad! But I will admit I was a bit surprised to learn that more Army Veterans are “pulling the proverbial trigger” when it comes to jumping the pond to Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and even Asia.
I often get questions about how degrees compare, or about the cost of living in a foreign country. If you happen to be considering a remarkably different experience like studying overseas then make sure you conduct solid research.
Here are some TIPS to help you along:
1) Ensure the Institution is VA Approved by checking WEAMS.
2) Ensure the type of degree and the complete program are approved before going anywhere!*
3) Do NOT pay for study-abroad program “services” unless you absolutely want to do “short-term” study abroad. But even then, there are ways to go direct using services like mine and avoiding additional and unnecessary fees.
4) Look closely at international accreditation standards. For example, any business program worth attending overseas should be AACSB accredited at a Foreign University.
Also, if Engineering is the career you’ll be studying, make sure the country you want to study in is a Signatory to the Washington Accord.
5) DO ask for and receive transfer credit for your Military Experience and any college credit you’ve already earned. Get your transcript from the new JST (Joint Service Transcript) System.
Over the last two years there has been an increase in interest from foreign universities. One of the primary reasons we don’t really hear about International Education being a “Veterans option” is that most Veterans simply don’t know what it’s about, and most foreign universities don’t understand what the Post 9/11 GI Bill represents.
I have been working closely with Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and many other regions around the world to engage top universities located in these countries.
*While the VA does keep a list of “approved institutions” on their website (WEAMS) it’s important to point out that many of these universities don’t necessarily understand what they’re actually approved to do, or what a Veteran student actually is.
For instance, the City University of Hong Kong is an approved foreign university. They have a VA Certifying Official. They also know how the program works and are very proactive. But across the bay in Mainland China there are actually a few universities who are VA approved – but (and I quote), “For political reasons we cannot accept U.S. Veterans at our university.”
As you can see, someone could make the mistake of assuming that because a university is an approved institution, that one could simply fill out an application, get accepted, and attend school. It’s important to carefully explore your options and to contact a professional international/overseas higher education expert for assistance.
One place to start searching for higher educational consultants and agents worldwide is on the Uniagents website.
Article has been revised since first being published.