Marines and sailors leaving the military might soon find it quicker to be admitted to the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
During a ceremony Tuesday at the Beaufort campus, USCB Chancellor Jane Upshaw and Marine Maj. Gen. Carl Jensen, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, signed an agreement making USCB the first South Carolina college to participate in the Corps' "Elite to Elite."
That program streamlines admissions for newly discharged Marines and sailors by allowing Jensen and other Corps officials to pre-screen service members and recommend them to participating universities for admission.
"The Marine Corps will recommend to us students they think will be appropriate to come to USC Beaufort," Upshaw said. "Those students, who will meet our entrance requirements, then have an expedited admissions process. It's like a fast track for them."
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The Marine Corps has similar agreements with 13 universities in North Carolina.
"The longer you're away from education, the more daunting it can become to get back in," said Jensen, who oversees seven bases across the Southeast including Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. "I wanted to make it easier for them to transition back into an educational institution."
Upshaw said students in the program likely will be notified of their admission within two days and are admitted using the same academic standards as other students.
"For a normal student, it may take a couple of weeks or a couple of months to get all of their materials in," Upshaw said.
To qualify for the program, a Marine or sailor must have scored a 70 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test and scored 115 or higher on the General Classification Test, according to the Corps. The tests are used to determine whether someone is qualified to enlist in the any of the nation's armed services.
An honorable discharge from the Marine Corps also is required before enrollment, according to a Corps administrative order.
About 300 of USCB's 1,700 students are former or active-duty service members or their dependents, according to university officials.
Jensen said he hopes to see the program expand to other campuses in the University of South Carolina system and other universities nationwide.
"If I'm getting out in North Carolina but I'm from Illinois, the fact that North Carolina has a program like this is interesting but largely irrelevant," Jensen said. "If we can grow this program nationwide, then we'll really be on to something."