Choose your Institution
Before you do anything, take a look at what schools are in Tennessee, and how they serve veterans. Below is a link where you can find a comprehensive list of all of the schools in Tennessee, and contact details for the staff members best suited to answer your questions.
Look at the list of schools in Tennessee, here. While you're looking, keep in mind fields that you're interested in studying, future careers you think you might like to pursue, and ask questions of the staff members there.
Most schools require that you have either an SAT or an ACT score in order to apply to their school.
Since you've decided which schools you will be applying to, check their website and see if they require one test over the other. If they accept either score, learn more about each test and decide if you want to take both, or just one.
While you're learning about the school, see if they have a minimum SAT/ACT score that they require for admissions. This way, once you've decided which test to take and start studying, you have a target score you can aim for while you practice.
Visit the website and learn more about the ACT, here.
There, you can find resources to help you study, test dates, and how to get registered for your first testing session.
Visit the website and learn more about the SAT, here.
This site also has information on tools to get you ready for the test, how to register, and more information on when and where the test is offered.
Before making the final decision of which school to apply to, make sure you check to see if that campus will allow you to transfer your military service for college credits. Check with the institutions you are considering applying to, and see what their policies are for accepting your military service as college credit. This includes you military occupational experience but also trainings that you have done.
Depending on which branch you served in, look below to see how to go about getting your military transcripts.
Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, fill out the Joint Services Transcript
Apply for Admission
Now that you've chosen which school(s) you're interested in, you've taken the SAT and/or SAT, and you've gotten your military transcripts, Apply!
Double-check the schools requirements for admission and ensure that you have completed each step. Many schools will not consider an application if it is incomplete.
Common requirements for admission include:
1. A copy of your high school transcripts
2. Your test scores from your SAT and ACT
3. Your application form, and any essays that might accompany it.
Since you are also checking to see if they accept your military credit, be sure to send along your military transcripts.
There are plenty of opportunities for financial assistance when applying to college, but there are programs available specifically for veterans.
GI Bill Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of information on their website related to how much financial aid you qualify for, based on your period of service. In addition, you can apply on-line and go through a series of Frequently Asked Questions, that may help you get a better understanding of how college can be affordable for you.
Check out their website here, to start getting information. When you're ready, you can start filling out the online application.
The Helping Heroes Grant is for veterans who have served in the Post 9/11 era. There are several pre-requisites to determine eligibility, including having an Honorable Discharge, having received an Iraq or Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, and be a Tennessee resident for minimum of one year prior to receiving the grant. Go through the complete list of requirements here, to see if you qualify.
Recipients can receive $1,000 per semester when you take a full course load (12 hours), without receiving a failing grade. If you're a part-time student (between 6 and 11 credit hours), you can still receive $500 each semester. Funds are available on a first-come first-served basis, so get your application in as soon as you can. You can access the application, here.
Vocational Rehab and Employment(VR&E) is a program administered by the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs to guide veterans through career counseling, personal academic support, and also in some cases financial assistance. Learn more about the program at the VA website.
There are specific eligibility requirements related to entitlement to funds. Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from the VA, are eligible. Check the full list of eligibility requirements here.
Finding Financial Aid
After applying for GI Bill benefits,the first thing you should do is complete the FAFSA.
The FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, analyzes your income and assets to determine your expected ability to contribute to your own education. Once it establishes your expected contribution, it will also determine whether or not you qualify for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds.
The link to the FAFSA website is here. Be sure to report any veteran/military benefits you've been awarded.
Keep in mind that you should never, under any circumstances, pay to fill out the FAFSA, or to register for other financial aid, and should never give your personal identification information to a third party website in order to apply for aid.
Contact your university, or visit their website for specific details on what financial information they need in order to consider your application. When you do that, you can also learn about scholarship programs they may have available for veterans.
Once you've been accepted to a college or university,there are likely placement test requirements you'll need to complete. As a veteran, since you are not transitioning directly from high school, many colleges require that you illustrate your performance level through placement tests. Be sure to complete these so that you are not incorrectly placed in remedial classes.
Be sure to get all of the administrative parts of entering school taken care of. Speak with an advisor about subjects you're interested in, and get registered for classes.
Combat Veterans Can Register Early for Classes at Public Schools
A military veteran who is a current resident of this state or whose home of record for military purposes is Tennessee and who is a student at a public institution of higher education shall be allowed to register for classes prior to the general student population at any public institution of higher education. Early registration shall occur using the same procedure used by student athletes, disabled students and honor students, if such groups are permitted to early register.
Amends TCA, Title 49, Chapter 7, Part 1.
Once you've registered, make note of any orientations that are available. Get acclimated on campus, learn about organizations you can get involved with, where veteran services are located, where classrooms are, so you can start to feel comfortable on campus.
Schools often have resources dedicated specifically for veterans on their campuses. These range from Veteran Student Centers, Student Veteran Organizations, Counseling services, Disability Services, and much more.
Check with your campus for ways to get involved, to find resources to help you transition successfully and to make your experience in college suited for your needs. Remember to connect with your Student Veteran Organization for more information.