What is the Military’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP)?

clepCollege is more expensive today than it ever has been, yet more and more employers require college degrees for entry-level jobs. In addition to financial costs, earning a bachelor’s degree requires four years of dedicated, full-time study. This means that someone who enters the military right out of high school wouldn’t earn a college degree until the age of 26. Luckily, the armed forces have created a solution to the financial and time requirements of college: the military College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP.

What Is CLEP?

With CLEP, members of the military can demonstrate their existing knowledge via examination. By visiting one of the 1,800 American campuses that administer CLEP tests, uniformed men and women are able to take a 90-minute, multiple choice exam in one of 33 college-level subjects. CLEP exams cover social sciences, composition, science, mathematics, world languages and business. Some military bases also offer CLEP testing services.

How Much Does CLEP Cost?

For active military members, the first attempt at any CLEP exam is free, thanks to the Defense Activity For Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES). Some civilian employees and family members of military members may also be eligible for free exams. Although some campuses may charge a small administration fee, many college testing centers and all on-base centers will waive the administration fee for military members. Veterans may be able to take free exams or use G.I. benefits to cover the cost of the test.

Why Take A CLEP Exam?

A single college course can cost hundreds of dollars at a community college or thousands of dollars at a university. Many military personnel find that introductory level courses designed for 18-year-old freshmen are not needed for older and more experienced members of the military. By contrast, a CLEP exam is usually free and takes only 90 minutes. Even if some studying is required, the overall time commitment for a CLEP exam is much less than a standard college course. Finally, CLEP tests are a much better fit for the busy lifestyles of active duty members of the military who can study for the tests on their own schedule.

Who Can Take Advantage of CLEP?

CLEP exams are available to everyone, but most examinees will have to pay an $80 exam fee for every attempt at a test. Only military personnel and some civilian employees of the armed forces are eligible for DANTES-sponsored free tests. Often, experienced members of the military find that the discipline they’ve gained from their service helps them prepare for CLEP tests more consistently than their civilian counterparts.

CLEP exams are designed to cover up to the first two years of the college experience, but most people who take advantage of the program only take a few tests. Using the CLEP program won’t cause military members to miss out on their college experience. Instead, CLEP exams are a great tool for saving the time, money and stress associated with boring, introductory-level college courses.