TRENTON, NJ – Making the path to higher education easier for former military members in New Jersey, a bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and several colleagues would help veterans earn college credit for the skills and information acquired through their service.

The legislation unanimously passed both the full Assembly and Senate in their final session of 2019 earlier this week. The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy.

The bill would require independent and public institutions of higher education to adopt policies that award academic credit to honorably discharged veterans for the lessons they learned through their military service.

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“More often than not, veterans have already completed military coursework and have life-skills that are equivalent to material they would study in a college or university setting,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “That experience should count towards their degree and these credits help acknowledge that.”

The bill stipulates that educational institutions must consider the recommendation of the American Council on Education before determining what credits should be awarded for relevant military training and experience that align with appropriate courses in the veteran’s chosen degree program.

“Any system that we can establish to help our veterans move forward with their education is a smart approach,” said Bruce Land (D-Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland). “They have made, and continue to make, sacrifices for our country and state. It’s only right that we tweak systems like this one to be more accommodating.”

Credits awarded to admitted veterans for their applicable military experience could be used for either undergraduate or graduate programs.

“Military members are able to gain a lot of valuable information and abilities through the training they receive as a new recruit and through the positions they hold throughout their service,” said Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden and Gloucester). “It just makes sense to ensure that their hard-earned experience carries over to the academic environment.”

“This legislation helps our veterans get off to a strong start in pursuing the credits they need to earn their degree,” said Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “They have worked hard for our country and deserve a good support system to help them excel in their studies.”

“Veterans who risked their lives for this country deserve recognition of their completed training through applicable college credits,” said Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), a former sergeant in the U.S. Marines who served in military intelligence. “This common sense legislation will help veterans obtain a degree as they transition to civilian life.”

 “The coursework completed during a soldier’s initial entry training is generally accepted at public and private educational institutions,” said Joanne Downey (D-Monmouth). “This bill standardizes the acceptance of that training to help student veterans more confidently plan towards a college degree.”