Depending on one’s education goal, 36 months of GI Bill benefits may not be enough. The program was designed to fund four 9-month academic years, enough for a bachelor’s degree. Veterans having both the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 can squeeze an additional year, if used correctly.

But what if your goal is to get an advanced degree? That can take up to an additional two years after getting a bachelor’s degree. DANTES can be a way to get college credits for introductory level classes, but with less GI Bill entitlement use.


The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is a testing service military members and veterans can use to receive college credits without taking the actual classes. While DANTES hosts a slew of tests including College Admissions, High School Equivalency and Teacher Certification, this article focuses on two types of tests that earn college credit.


The College Level Entrance Program (CLEP) allows military members and veterans to take up to 33 end-of-course type examinations in five different areas:

  • History and Social Sciences – 12 tests
  • Composition and Literature – 6 tests
  • Science and Mathematics – 7 tests
  • Business – 5 tests
  • World Languages – 3 tests

Each test takes from 90 to 120 minutes to complete and if passed, the credits are recognized by 2,900 colleges and universities. Ensure a specific school accepts CLEP credits and their minimum pass rate before taking the test.

Tests are free to take the first time for military members serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves and National Guard. Veterans have to pay the $80 per test fee, but may claim reimbursement through the VA depending on the type of GI Bill.

If reimbursement is approved, GI Bill entitlement will be reduced accordingly. With the MGIB, each reimbursement will reduce the remaining unused entitlement by about two days. However, Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement will automatically be reduced one month for each reimbursement.

With most classes costing $250 per credit or more, paying $80 for a lower level three-credit class is still a bargain and a good way to maximize GI Bill benefits.


More focused on assessing prior learning outside of the classroom, veterans can use their training and experience to get upper and lower level college credits without stepping foot in a classroom. Similar in nature to CLEP, and costing the same amount, DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) tests consists of 38 tests total in the subject areas of:

  • Business
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology

With limited GI Bill benefits, using them wisely mean less out-of-pocket expense. Using credits from CLEP and DSST tests, and the other tips from the article Squeeze the Most from Your GI Bill, will help you gain the advantage of using GI Bill benefits wisely. They are a precious resource that should not be wasted.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.