Second Chance: Getting college credits

Aug. 1, 2002
In my article Credit Due II, I promised to do some research on getting college credits for those mechanics who did not qualify for the American Council on Education (ACE) recommended 67 college credits

In my article Credit Due II, I promised to do some research on getting college credits for those mechanics who did not qualify for the American Council on Education (ACE) recommended 67 college credits because they earned their A&P prior to the ACE mandated August 1989 cut-off date. In the article I asked for input either from students or colleges and universities themselves. In response to my plea for help, I received 22 e-mail messages. Some of the e-mail had a lot of information and some just had the name of the school. All together it amounted to a mess of information that needed an expert to make sense out of it. So I got one. The expert is my wife, Marie. Who better? After all she put me and my two boys through college, then went back to college herself and graduated top of her class. At her graduation exercise I asked her if she was so smart why did she decide to marry a guy like me? She smiled and said something about a weak moment. I wisely decided not to push the issue.

Meeting the criteria
Because of AMT restraints on the number of words in each of my articles, the colleges listed below had to fit a certain criteria. They are: (1) fully accredited; (2) offer distance learning; and (3) offer both associate's and bachelor's degrees. Marie strongly recommends that you check out your own local colleges and universities. Of the other colleges that Marie interviewed, several matched or exceeded the credits of the colleges listed in this article at a lower cost per credit hour. However, they did not make the list because they did not offer distance learning or just offered an associate's degree or advertised on the back of a match book cover.
Why distance learning? There are advantages to distance-learning schools including no classroom attendance. These schools give credit for lifetime experience such as A&P license and readily accept DANTES, CLEP, and some allow you to challenge courses they offer. You can study for a particular subject test while taking another course. So it is possible to take a subject test every couple of months in addition to finishing a course every 12 to 15 weeks.
The main disadvantage is the expense. These distance learning colleges generally are more expensive than local colleges. However, if you utilize the testing opportunities to obtain college credit in conjunction with taking courses, you could get a degree a lot sooner and it would help to defray the cost as opposed to going to a local college and paying hidden costs like parking or a student activity fee.
Another minor disadvantage is that some distance learning colleges require that you take one to two exams per course which means you have to make arrangements with a proctor at your local library or if you are in the military, you can take the test at one of their facilities. In either case you'll have to spend a little extra time scheduling the exam and getting the college's approval on the proctor you will use.
If you are considering an associate's degree, contact the Part 147 school you attended a million years ago to see if it has an arrangement with an affiliated college that offers distance learning. As a former graduate, you may be offered a generous amount of credit hours. About one-third of the Part 147 schools have education agreements with local colleges and universities.

Just a starting point
Before you read any further there is something I must say. I work for the FAA. So I have to formally state that the FAA as a federal agency cannot give formal or tacit approval or even recommend any of these schools listed below or for that matter any other school. This article is my good faith attempt to give older A&Ps baseline information of what today's college costs are and what credits are available. It is a starting point. A place to move you out of your comfortable niche and reach for a higher goal. My expert assures me that a prospective student will have to spend at least 20 hours researching colleges to find one that will meet their needs. Going after a degree will not be easy, but second chances never are.

Here are three colleges for your review. The tuition and fees were current at the time this article was written but are subject to change.
Center for Distance Learning
SUNY Empire State College
Three Union Ave.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-4391
(800) 847-3000
Contact: Paul Trela, admissions advisor x325
(Review the web site and fill out an inquiry form to receive a catalogue.)
This college offers associate's and bachelor's degrees in Management of Technology as well as other degree programs. Courses are offered through the web or through mailed print packages. According to Dr. Benke, dean of the program, A&P mechanics can earn 30 to 40 college credits for the required 64-credit associate's degree, depending upon evaluation. For the required 128-credit bachelor's degree, A&P mechanics can earn 30 to 40 credits. You can also receive credits for your lifetime experience. Empire State College also accepts college transfer credits, DANTES, and CLEP. The maximum number of transfer credits combined with individualized evaluation is 40 for the associate's and 96 for the bachelor's.
There are five semesters per year and courses are 15 weeks long. Tuition is $137 per credit plus books and materials. Each course is four credits, one four-credit course with fees is $616.40. There is a two-part assessment fee. Each part costs $300. However, some people would only need to have the one-part assessment done which includes ACE, college transfers, military, etc. The second-part is for lifetime experience credit. The only other fee is the $50 enrollment fee.
Thomas Edison State College
101 W. State St., Trenton, NJ 08608-1176
(609) 633-9683
Contact: Kimberly Eresia, marketing relationship
This college offers associate's and bachelor's degrees in Applied Science and Technology as well as other degrees. A&P mechanics can receive 55 to 66 college credits toward the required 120-credit bachelor's degree depending on when they received their A&P ticket. A&P mechanics can receive 27 college credits toward the required 60-credit associate's degree. You may also receive credits for college-level knowledge you have gained through lifetime experience. Thomas Edison State College accepts transfer credits from other accredited colleges and universities as well as DANTES, CLEP, and TECEP (the college's own examination program).
Independent study courses are 16 to 24 weeks long. You will have to locate a proctor in order to take your exams. This college offers students two ways to pay tuition and fees. Students may choose to pay one convenient annual fee - the Comprehensive Tuition Plan - covers unlimited services for one year (i.e., as many portfolios and tests as they like and up to 12 Guided Study or online course credits per term). The charge for this plan is currently $4,345 for the first year and $3,795 for subsequent years. Or students may pay only for those services they choose as they use them (i.e., per portfolio, test, or Guided Study course). The charge for this plan is currently $1,630 for the first year and $1,400 for subsequent years. Courses and books are extra. Courses are $124 per credit plus books and materials. Tuition for New Jersey residents is lower.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Dept. of Distance Learning
600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114-3900
(800) 359-3728 or (386) 226-6363
Contact: Marshall Lewis
This college offers associate's and bachelor's degrees in Professional Aeronautics and a bachelor's degree in Management of Technical Operations as well as other degrees. You need a total of 60 credits for the associate's degree and 120 credits for the bachelor's degree.
For the Professional Aeronautics degree, mechanics can receive 18 to 21 credits for the associate's part and 30 credits for the bachelor's. For the bachelor's degree in Management of Technical Operations, mechanics can receive 15 credits.
Courses are offered through the Internet and are 12 weeks long. A maximum of four courses can be taken at one time. Courses are offered every month. You will have to locate a proctor in order to take your course exams.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University accepts college transfer credits, prior learning assessment, CLEP, and DANTES. Tuition is $152 per credit hour plus books. Each course is 3 credit hours. There is a $30 application fee.

If money for college is a problem and you do not qualify for financial aid, you might want to learn more about the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. Also you might want to brush up on the tax laws concerning withdrawal from Individual Retirement Accounts without incurring a penalty when used for their college education.

These accredited distance learning colleges offer both an associate's and bachelor's degree in majors that complement the A&P ticket. This means that you won't have to take as many courses to complete your degree. If you are considering getting your degree in a different major, these colleges as well as many others will give you some credit for your A&P but overall they will not be as generous. If you want to see what other colleges are offering, please refer to the following reference books at your local library:

Peterson's Guide to Distance Learning, Campus-Free College Degrees: Thorson's Guide to Accredited College Degrees through Distance Learning, and Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning: Accredited Schools & Degrees Entirely by Distance Learning.

I will leave you with these words to ponder. Higher education is absolutely worthless during good times, but in bad times it becomes an absolute necessity.

About the Author

Bill O'Brien