The Florida Senate has passed legislation that provides uniform rules for granting college credit to returning veterans for training and education earned on active duty.
Senate Bill 532, sponsored by Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. In early 2012, the senate tried to make what it called a “realistic” budget with higher education appropriations. With the weak job market still hurting Florida, this bill offers veterans more work opportunities.
“The job market is tough, but it is even more unwelcoming for many young veterans upon their return from service,” said Altman. “Their relevant skills and experiences are not always treated with the educational value they should be given, and that can be a setback when preparing to enter a competitive workforce.”
Kendall Broughton, a member of the ROTC program at FAMU, said SB 532 would deliver well-deserved aid for those returning from service.
“Being given the opportunity to capitalize on your skills and education gained while in the military is a blessing in disguise,” Broughton said. “This bill also allows a smoother transitional period for young veterans that may have dreams of attending college to further their education.”
Supporters assure that the bill provides a crutch to veterans to better their chances at working.
Evaluating military training and experience for college credit is a common practice among Florida’s public higher education institutions, but there is no uniformity in the process and credits widely vary. Neither the Florida Board of Governors nor the State Board of Education currently have standards set in place to maximize on certain areas outlined in SB 532.
Critics of the bill argue that it gives veterans too much of an advantage over students who had gone through the college process.
“I guess it’s a good thing they get the chance to earn college credit, but what about the students who have been in college for years?” said Tyja Robinson, a fifth-year biology student. “It wouldn’t be fair if veterans had the opportunity to surpass college students that have put in the time and effort towards their academics since high school.”