Dan Way writes for the Martin Center about efforts to help military students in North Carolina.

Drone pilots have assumed an increasingly valuable role in military operations. Soon they may be able to leverage their unique experience into academic credits through the North Carolina Community College System.

That is just one among a multitude of military occupations and training modules for which the UNC System and Community College System might one day award credits to smooth the time-and-money path for veterans and active-duty service members to earn degrees. It is not just a good idea in a state with a large military population to recognize real-world attainment as academic credit transfers—it is also the law.

The North Carolina General Assembly unanimously passed Senate Bill 761 in 2014 directing the community college and university systems to develop a uniform system for awarding course credits based on military occupational and aptitude skills. “I feel that all that training that the government has taken the time to put you through, and that you’ve tested for, you should get credit for that because you’re actually working in that job in the military,” said state Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, primary sponsor of S.B. 761 and who was a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.

Compliance with the new law has not happened with a snap of the fingers, however; there are many procedural hurdles to surmount. Susan Barbitta, associate director of special projects at the Community College System, and Chuck Gross, director for prior learning assessment and military credit with UNC General Administration, say they have made important foundational steps to comply with the legislation.