DOD VOLED to hold virtual education fair Nov. 19

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (AFNS) — In an effort to expand the reach of military voluntary education and help make higher education accessible for all service members, veterans and family members, the Defense Department’s Voluntary Education Program will host its first 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.

Taheesha Quarells, the military evaluations program manager for the Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support (DANTES), 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,” Quarells said. “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 Degree Network System. 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, email, major interest, education level, and how participants heard about the fair. Advance and day-of registration for the virtual education fair is available here.

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 your 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.

Edward Hodge, the manager of voluntary education services at the Air Education and Training Command, said that 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.

“In light of military members’ immersive use of technology to make social connections, manage their finances, purchase goods and services, etc., it only makes sense for the Air Force to participate in the DOD Virtual Education Fair,” Hodge said. “Think about it: Air Force members stationed around the globe will chat virtually, in real-time, with counselors on subjects such as tuition assistance, the Community College of the Air Force, establishing education goals, for-credit testing, and a host of other higher education topics. Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for Air Force education services.”

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 Virtual Education Fair, visit www.dodeducationfair.com.