Policy on Priority Registration for Combat Veterans


Policy on Priority Registration for Combat Veterans


As part of Rhode Island’s continuing efforts to recognize the men and women of our armed forces, and pursuant to §30-30.2-3(2) of the Rhode Island General Laws1, the Council on Postsecondary Education establishes this policy which supports veterans and service members in achieving their academic and career goals without delay. The General Assembly has directed the prior Board of Education (now the Council on Postsecondary Education) to adopt policies or regulations that require each public higher education institution to grant priority registration for enrollment to combat veterans noting that, “The people of the state have a deep debt of gratitude for the sacrifices made by these men and women who as combat veterans placed their lives in harm’s way to protect and defend our nation from all foreign enemies and terrorist threats.”  As directed by the General Assembly, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner has worked in consultation with the adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard to develop this policy. 

Policy: Priority registration for combat veterans

In response to the directive in RIGL §30-30.2-3(2), all combat veterans of the United States armed forces, the National Guard, the reserves, and the United States Coast Guard shall have priority course registration at any of the Rhode Island public institutions of higher education.  


For the purposes of this policy, the words and phrases used will have the meaning given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

“Combat veteran” will be understood to be an individual who meets the following criteria:

  1. Service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Air Force of the United States during any foreign war, expedition, campaign, or Military Operation Other than War (MOOW)2 and;
  2. Received an in-theater campaign medal3
  3. Received an honorable discharge from service

“Priority registration” will be understood to mean that combat veterans will be able to register on a first priority basis on the first day registration opens for any semester, including summer or winter terms if applicable.  

Implementation guidelines

  1. The process of determining the eligibility for priority registration and the priority registration status within the class of combat veterans will be facilitated through the designated veterans’ campus contact.
  2. Combat veterans wishing to obtain priority registration status must self-identify to the campus veterans’ contact.  Veterans seeking priority registration will submit the following items to demonstrate eligibility:
  • DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) which annotates service in a combat theatre of operation including notation of medals awarded for service.4 
  • Service members currently on active duty who do not have a DD214 must present award citation and copy of deployment orders that demonstrated service in a combat theatre of operation. Documentation must be submitted no later than fifteen business days prior to the first day of priority registration for a given term.
  • The priority registration policy and the means for participating will be widely communicated. Information on the priority registration policy, procedure, eligibility deadlines and any needed forms will be available on each of the public postsecondary institution’s websites.
  • Institutions shall determine and communicate widely the name and contact information of the college official who will answer questions and assist veterans in applying for priority registration.
  • Veterans eligible for priority registration shall meet institutional requirements for priority registration which may include matriculation into a degree or certificate program or scheduling an appointment with an academic or financial aid advisor. 
  • In instances where there are space limitations, priority among combat veterans will be determined by the number of tours of active duty completed during any foreign war, expedition, campaign, or Military Operation Other than War. If this is insufficient to determine priority among the candidates, the institutions may determine preference according to service awards received in the order of ranking determined by the government of the United States.
  • Guidelines for receiving priority registration at the postsecondary institution must be established and submitted to the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner for review no later than July 1, 2015. 

1RIGL § 30-30.2-3 Academic credit for military training and coursework. The state board of education shall ensure:

(1) Enrolled students are awarded education credits based upon their military training or service when academically appropriate; and

(2) Establishment of a preferential class registration process for all state institutions, which shall be reviewed and approved by the board of education to allow combat veterans to register first for all classes at any state-run institution of higher education. In developing rules and regulations, the office of the commissioner of higher education, in consultation with the adjutant general of the Rhode Island national guard, shall determine individual preference ranking among combat veterans, including, but not limited to, the number of combat tours served, service awards, and any other such criteria deemed appropriate by the adjutant general.

Please note that §30-30.2-3(1) is addressed by Council policy S-13.0, policy on academic credit for military service and training.

2Military Operations Other than War (MOOW) includes the use of military capabilities across a range of operations that fall short of war, have specific duration, and more restrictive rules of engagement than in war.

3Service medals will include any of the following: Medal of Honor; Silver Star; Navy/USMC Medal/Purple Heart; Navy/USMC Combat Action Ribbon; U.S. Army Combat Infantry Badge; USAF Combat Action Medal; Korean Service Medal; ROK Korean War Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; U.S. Vietnam Service Medal; RVN Gallantry Cross; Saudi Arabian Liberation of Kuwait Medal; Kuwait Liberation of Kuwait Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

4Specifically, Page 4 or Page 8 of a DD-214 will display all relevant information required for making a status determination.


Policy Number
Legal Citation
5/6/2015 (CPE)