Plan could help military members gain college credits

Service members and veterans could use their military experience for course credits at Florida public universities, colleges and career centers under a proposal approved Wednesday by a Senate panel.

The proposal (SB 372), filed by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, would require the state to create a “uniform process” that would determine what type of post-secondary coursework would be equivalent to the experience and college-level training gained by people who serve or have served in the military.

Lee told the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee on Wednesday that the bill would be a “vast undertaking" by state education officials.

The House version of the bill (HB 171), sponsored by Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin, and Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, is slated to be heard Thursday by the House Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee.

Under Lee’s proposal, the Department of Education's Articulation Coordinating Committee would put together a 13-member workgroup that would hash out the process for determining what types of college-level courses would be equivalent to military service and training and the minimum amounts of credit that service members should receive.

The committee would include representatives from the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs, faculty and academic affairs administrators from universities and colleges and faculty from career centers.

A list of eligible courses, approved by the committee, would need to be adopted by the State Board of Education by Dec. 1, 2021, according to the bill. Universities, colleges and career centers would need to start awarding credits to service members starting Jan. 1, 2022.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.