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Assistance for Mobilized Student-Reservists

Approximately thirty percent of National Guard and Reserve members are students enrolled in institutions of higher learning. While Federal law, similar to the law that provides civilian job protection for members of the National Guard and Reserve, provides important relief from many civil liabilities for members of the Reserve components it does not afford the same protection to members called to duty from a student status in the nation's colleges and universities. The Department of Defense (DoD) has worked extensively with the state governors and educational associations to support members of the Reserve force who are involuntarily called to active duty. These efforts have focused on ensuring student-Reservists will: (1) receive refunds for tuition and fees they have paid for the semester, quarter, or term they cannot complete; or (2) be granted partial credit for completed course work or receive a grade of Incomplete; and (3) be granted the right to return to their college or university upon completion of their active military service.

Discussion

As we were involuntarily recalling Guard and Reserve members to active duty to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, during the call-up for operations in Bosnia, and later in Kosovo the Secretary of Defense sent letters to the state governors asking for their assistance in this voluntary effort. DoD has also worked closely with a number of national educational associations who have communicated directly with many of the nation's universities, technical, and vocational colleges, including private colleges, to gain their cooperation and support for student-Reservists. The primary clearinghouse for assistance to student-Reservists has been the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC). SOC has been very successfully mediated with educational institutions on behalf of Reserve component members.

Avenues of Assistance for Reservists

If you are experiencing a problem with an educational issue as a result of an involuntary recall to active duty (such as course credit, tuition, fees, or re-enrollment in a program of study), you should contact SOC for assistance. They can be reached at 1-800-368-5622-a toll-free call-or you may write to:

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges

1307 New York Avenue, N.W., 5th Floor

Washington, DC 20005-4701

Often, just keeping your communication channels open with the educational institution you're attending will facilitate the resolution of your concern. Informing them of your status as far in advance as feasible will also help. Additionally, let your unit education office know if you are experiencing a problem, if possible. Often communication among education professionals will facilitate resolution. Since tuition and refund issues may apply to several student-Reservists attending courses at a particular educational institution, a solution could be reached with the educational institution for all those that are affected.