PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- As part of an effort to expand the reach of military Voluntary Education (VOLED) and help make higher education accessible for all service members, veterans and family members, the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Program will host its first online Virtual Education Fair Nov. 19.
The online fair is designed to enable members' participation from anywhere in the world, helping them get a head-start on the information needed to reach their education goals.
The Military Evaluations Program Manager for the Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support (DANTES), Taheesha Quarells said this inaugural online education fair will serve as a pilot for future events and offers several advantages over local education fairs.
"We wanted the virtual education fair to act as a force multiplier, working in conjunction with the services' education centers to offer service members a greater variety of school options," said Quarells. "Each of the 43 schools participating in this fair have both online and face-to-face programs, and are currently members of the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) Degree Network System (DNS). SOC DNS schools have simplified credit transfers and reduced residency requirements making it easier for students to complete degree requirements."
Registration is required to participate, but takes only a few minutes and is anonymous, asking only for a unique username, location, e-mail, major interest, education level and how participants heard about the fair. Advance and day-of registration for the virtual education fair is available through: https://dodeducationfair.com/signup.html
Representatives from participating schools will be available via live chat from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST to accommodate different time zones. The fair is designed to offer an informative, pressure-free experience, where members can learn about:
* Schools having a signed agreement with the Department of Defense to provide a quality education to service members and military spouses
* Financial aid options to help defray the cost of members' education
* Degree and certificate program offerings
* Cost of Tuition and Fees
* Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits
During and after the fair, several prerecorded video information sessions will be available, including: Top high-growth career fields and degrees; Resources for choosing a school; and Bridging education and credentialing. Information from schools participating in the fair will be accessible online after the event as well.
One unique aspect of the virtual education fair is participation of education counselors representing each branch of the armed forces, offering real-time counseling during the fair.
"All of the services have unique rules, requirements and policies regarding Tuition Assistance, education plans and credit transfer options," said Dr. Deborah Harris-Sims, manager of special projects for Navy VOLED. "During the online fair, service counselors will be able to explain and clarify any misconceptions that service members may have about education benefits and get answers that are accurate for their particular service branch."
Quarells added that rarely will service members and their families find so many resources in one place and the virtual education fair is perfect for those who might not have an educational support office nearby.
"Depending on their location, it can be challenging for service members to find answers to their education questions quickly," she said. "During the virtual education fair, not only will they be able to speak with someone from DANTES or a counselor from their service, but they will also be able to chat live and get real-time answers from Federal Student Financial Aid and post-9/11 GI Bill representatives."
For additional information about the DOD Voluntary Education Virtual Education Fair, visit: http://www.dodeducationfair.com.
List of schools participating in the VEF:
Armstrong State University
Coastal Carolina Community College
Coastline Community College
Central Texas College
El Paso Community College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide
Empire State College, SUNY
Everett Community College
Fayetteville Technical Community College
Florida Institute of Technology
Fort Hays State University - Virtual College
Grand Canyon University
Hawaii Pacific University
Hopkinsville Community College
Jefferson Community College
Liberty University - Online
National American University
Old Dominion University
Pensacola State College
Pikes Peak Community College
Post University - Online
Southern New Hampshire University
Southwest Tennessee Community College
Saint Leo University
Thomas Edison State College
Tidewater Community College
Trident University International
University of the Incarnate Word
Upper Iowa University
For more news from Naval Education And Training Professional Development And Technology Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/NETPDTC/.