America’s Top Military-Friendly Colleges

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Despite a steady downsizing in personnel since the mid-1950s, the U.S. military remains one of the largest armed forces in the world. According to data from the U.S. Department of Defense, roughly 1.3 million men and women served in the military in 2016. A recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau also reveals there are 21.8 million veterans of the armed forces.

In response to these high numbers, the federal government has launched several programs and initiatives aimed at veterans and active-duty military personnel who wish to attend college and earn an accredited degree. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that more than 900,000 veterans and military servicemembers received education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs between 2000 and 2012; the largest increase was recorded between 2009 and 2010, after the Post 9/11 GI Bill took effect; one provision of this bill ― known as the Yellow Ribbon program ― is designed to reduce out-of-pocket tuition costs for individuals who have enlisted since 9/11. Additionally, a joint program known as Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) eases the credit transferral and degree completion processes for active-duty and military reservist students. Other academic perks include ‘prior-learning’ credits awarded for those who have completed official military trainings, dedicated student organizations for veterans and active-duty servicemembers and financial aid opportunities reserved for students with an armed forces background.

Online degree programs offer an ideal academic pathway for many of today’s military students. The asynchronous (or self-paced) curriculum of most online courses is conducive for active-duty personnel and reservists who must balance their schoolwork with service-related commitments. This flexible format is also helpful for Armed Forces veterans who are seeking a college education in order to transition from the military into civilian life. And like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, online colleges and universities provide services and resources aimed at military and veteran students. These include personal counseling, academic advisement and career planning ― all delivered within a convenient virtual setting.

This ranking of the best online colleges for veterans takes all of these programs and services into account. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive academic resource for military veterans, active servicemembers, reservists and military dependents across the country. Before we get to the official list, let’s discuss the detailed methodology we used to select these colleges and universities.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Fort Hays State University 71.36 3/5 82% Hays, KS

Established in 1902 at the site of a former military outpost, this Kansas institution today offers an extensive selection of online education programs. These options include more than 50 fully accredited degree and certificate pathways. In addition, undeclared students may opt for the online Bachelor of General Studies track, which allows them to follow a customized curriculum that aligns with their career goals and interests.

Fort Hays earns the top spot on our military-friendly schools ranking for several reasons. The university's financial aid options for active-duty students include the Montgomery GI Bill, Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), Fry Scholarship and Kansas Military Service Scholarship, as well as the MyCAA for military spouses. The university also participates in the '8 Keys to Veteran Success' program designed to assist and support military students as they complete their degree requirements and begin to explore career options. The university has been widely recognized for its military-oriented programs. Military Advanced Education has named Fort Hays among the most military-friendly colleges and universities since 2008, while U.S. News & World Report placed the university on lists for the best bachelor's and best grad education programs for veterans.

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2 Colorado State University-Global Campus 68.07 3/5 76% Greenwood Village, CO

CSU-Global is the distance education division of Colorado State University. A total of 24 online bachelor's and master's degree programs are available through CSU-Global, the majority of which are concentrated in accounting, management, human resources and other business-oriented studies. The university also offers multiple online certification and licensure pathways for aspiring K-12 teachers.

Attending CSU-Global is highly affordable for students with a military background; the university provides a 10% tuition discount for active-duty servicemembers, veterans and military dependents. The school's tuition guarantee also ensures that the annual cost of attending courses will not increase as long as a student is enrolled. Additionally, CSU will defer tuition payments while the student's GI Bill and other tuition benefits are being processed. First-time students can receive financial advisement from CSU's tuition planning services division. Military students attending CSU-Global may qualify for college credit through prior-learning assessments (PLAs) from trainings and work-related experience; students may transfer up to 30 PLA credits. Competency- based exams are also available for students who wish to earn credit in specialization areas without taking courses.

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3 University of North Dakota 65.00 3/5 70% Grand Forks, ND

Located in the town of Grand Forks, the UND offers a total of 60 online degree and certificate programs. These opportunities include an extensive selection of STEM pathways, such as degrees in engineering, medical laboratory science, aviation, forensic psychology and space studies. Multiple tracks for aspiring teachers and nurses are available online, as well.

The UND reduces college costs for military students by offering in-state tuition (regardless of current state of residence) to active-duty servicemembers, veterans, military dependents, members of the North Dakota National Guard and official ROTC cadets attending the university. Under the Military Tuition Assistance (TA) program, each eligible student to a 'Military Education Officer'; this officer will meet with the student to discuss degree options, course requirements and career opportunities. Military students who are currently deployed overseas may contact the UND office of veteran and nontraditional students; a staff member will register for courses on the student's behalf. A full tuition refund will be issued for all courses that are incomplete due to student deployment.

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4 The University of Alabama 64.32 4/5 79% Tuscaloosa, AL

More than 60 online degree and certificate pathways are available through Bama by Distance, the distance learning wing of the University of Alabama. These opportunities include: 24 programs in teacher education; 15 in 'human environmental sciences' fields; five in communication and information sciences; and additional options in arts and sciences, business administration, engineering and social work.

The University of Alabama maintains a partnership program with GoArmyEd that is designed for first-time students with a military background; each student will be paired with an Army Education Counselor to help with college application and admissions, course registration, tuition payments and other key steps for academic success. Additional programs offered through the university's Office of Veteran and Military Affairs include: VetSuccess, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) program that connects licensed vocational counselors with military students and dependents; the VITAL initiative aimed at improving health services for student veterans; and the Textbooks for Troops program that enables military students to check out textbooks for free.

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5 University of Maryland-University College 60.68 3/5 77% Adelphi, MD

Nearly 50 online degree and certificate programs are available at the University of Maryland-University College (UMUC), as well as 69 undergraduate minors and master's degree specializations. The majority of UMUC's online programs are delivered in a fully online format; a few pathways -- such as the practical nursing bachelor's degree track -- are delivered primarily online with onsite clinical or practicum course requirements.

UMUC offers a reduced tuition rate to veterans, active-duty servicemembers, National Guard personnel and military dependents earning undergraduate and graduate degrees. Additionally, the university's Tuition Assistance program may cover up to 100% of education-related costs for current and retired active-duty and reservist students. Military students can receive undergraduate and graduate credit for training programs such as College of the American Soldier, Defense Threat Reduction University, Marine Corps Career College and Joint Forces Staff College. Qualifying students will be considered for training-based credit when they submit their military transcripts. Degree and certificate programs for military students at UMUC are based on recommendations from the Guide to Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces.

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6 Northern Arizona University 58.98 3/5 76% Flagstaff, AZ

Located in the city of Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University offers more than 100 online degree and certificate options through NAU Online. These include: 70 programs concentrated in administration, business and management; 34 in the social sciences; 29 in education; and 20 in health professions. A wide range of specializations and minors for online undergraduate and graduate degrees are also available online.

NAU honors the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance (TA) program, which may cover up to 100% of tuition and other educational costs for qualifying military personnel and veterans. Other perks for military students who attend NAU include tuition deferment options, Yellow Ribbon benefits and coverage under the DEA program for survivors and dependents. Online and in-person 'Student Veterans Success Orientations' sessions are provided for all first-time students with a military background. Online military students who attend NAU will also be granted full access to the Veteran Success Center, an on-campus facility featuring a job board, academic and career counseling services, a space for group meetings and a 'safe space' where military personnel and veterans can gather without disruptions.

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7 Troy University 58.52 3/5 78% Troy, AL

Online students at this Alabama institution can select from more than 50 online undergraduate degree and certificate programs. These web-based options include: 14 Associate of General Science (AGS) tracks in subjects like aviation operations, international business, history and social science; forensics-oriented degrees in accounting and criminal justice; and multiple pathways for hospitality, sports and tourism management.

Troy has provided educational opportunities to military servicemembers and veterans since the 1950s. The university is currently an educational partner with all five major branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard). Several branch-specific programs are offered for military students, including: the General Education Mobility Initiative and Air University Associate to Bachelor Co-Operative degree for Air Force personnel; the Enlisted Education Program (EEP) and Green to Gold initiatives for army personnel; the U.S. Marine Corps Leadership Scholar Program (LSP); and the Navy College Distance Learning Partnership (NCDLP).'TROY for Troops' centers are located at the Troy and Montgomery campuses; an online TROY for Troops center is also available through Blackboard.

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8 Utah State University 56.70 3/5 82% Logan, UT

A total of 16 online bachelor's and master's degrees are available at Utah State, including programs in cutting-edge fields like agribusiness, communicative disorders and deaf education, dietetics administration and horticulture. Additionally, 20 certificates, professional endorsements and undergraduate minors are offered online. Utah State earned spots on both the 'Best Online Bachelor's Programs' and 'Best Online Grad Education Programs' rankings published in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.

Since 2010, Utah State has been voted as a 'Top Military Friendly School' by the KMI Research Group due to the university's 'enrollment rates, services offered, and financial opportunities available'. Utah State is included on the G.I. Jobs list, as well. Additionally, key faculty members have been trained to address specific concerns for military students; the university also features an on-campus veterans organization, dedicated offices for military and veterans affairs, free tutoring services and a relaxed course withdrawal policy for active-duty and reservist students. Students transitioning from military to civilian life can contact the Utah State Veterans Resources Office (VRO) to learn about reduced tuition rates, VA benefits and other issues related to financing their education.

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9 Western Kentucky University 56.36 3/5 68% Bowling Green, KY

Western Kentucky University's extensive distance learning programs include more than 90 accredited online programs. These options include: master's degrees in nine different academic disciplines; six '2+2' bachelor's programs designed for students who have already earned an associate degree; and 10 undergraduate minors; and more than 40 undergraduate and graduate certificates and endorsements.

The WKU Office of Veterans Affairs is not headed by the Department of Veterans Affairs; instead, the office serves as an intermediary between the DVA and WKU students who are eligible for military and veteran benefits. Tuition deferments are available for military personnel and veterans whose G.I. Bill benefits have not been activated yet; the deferment period lasts until the end of the semester. WKU has been named as a 'Best for Vets 4-Year College' by Military Times Edge magazine for the last six consecutive years, and the university also earned a spot among the 'Best Online Colleges for Veterans' ranking published in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.

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10 Davenport University 56.36 3/5 87% Grand Rapids, MI

Online students who attend this Michigan-based university may choose from nearly 50 web-based degree and certificate programs. These options include 26 undergraduate and graduate pathways in business-oriented fields; 10 tracks for health professions studies; nine technology pathways; and two graduate-level programs in the arts and sciences. As of Fall 2016, all undergraduate students at Davenport pursuing a fully online degree will qualify for a 33% tuition discount.

As a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC), Davenport offers a wide range of services dedicated to military students. Active-duty personnel, veterans and military dependents all receive discounted tuition rates, and those who have received military training may also qualify for prior-learning credits; students may use these credits to complete their associate or bachelor's degree program within one or two years. In addition to the book stipend included with Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, Davenport also offers textbook vouchers for qualifying students. Davenport's services for military personnel and veterans have been recognized by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Military Times, Military Advanced Education & Transition and the Student Veterans of America (SVA).

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11 Columbia College 52.27 3/5 73% Columbia, MO

This Missouri-based institution offers an extensive number of academic programs for online students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These options include: 17 degrees and certificates in business administration; 11 pathways in criminal justice; and four Master of Education tracks. Nearly 16,000 Columbia students across the globe take at least one online class each academic year.

Programs aimed at students who are active-duty servicemembers, veterans or military dependents are delivered through the college's Ousley Family Veteran Services Center; the center also handles VA benefits processing for military students enrolled at the main campus or online. Columbia also offers 'Green Zone' training modules designed to educate staff and faculty members about the specific needs of students who have served in the military, while the college's Military Transition Team (MTT) works to support veterans who are making the move into civilian student life. Online students at Columbia can access military-oriented online video seminars and presentations through the Virtual Veteran Services division; these programs tackle topics like financial aid opportunities for veteran students and administrative policies for active-duty servicemembers.

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12 East Tennessee State University 50.11 3/5 79% Johnson City, TN

Online programs at East Tennessee State University are largely designed for students pursuing careers in healthcare or education. A total of 13 fully online bachelor's degree programs are available, including pathways in allied health leadership, cardiopulmonary science, radiologic science, dental hygiene and an RN to BSN track for nurses. Teaching endorsements in English as a Second Language (ESL), math and special education are also offered online, as well as primarily online master's degrees in seven different subjects.

In addition to Yellow Ribbon benefits, active-duty servicemembers and veterans enrolled at ETSU may qualify for financial assistance through the Buc Hero Scholarship; this program covers up to 100% of tuition costs for students who are ineligible for Yellow Ribbon coverage. Additional financial aid opportunities include: the Tennessee Reconnect + Complete program, which is geared toward students who have completed college courses but not earned a degree; the Helping Heroes Grant, which awards up to $1,000 per semester for full-time students; and the Veterans Benefits Scholarship, which awards three $2,000 scholarships to students with 'innovative ideas' for improving military veteran benefits. ETSU is also home to The Veteran's Voice, a monthly online newsletter published by the university's Office of Veterans Affairs.

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13 Westfield State University 49.20 3/5 50% Westfield, MA

Several undergraduate pathways are offered through PLATO: ONLINE LEARNING, the distance learning branch of Massachusetts-based Westfield State University. These programs include bachelor's degrees in business, sociology, history, liberal studies, criminal justice and psychology, as well as online undergraduate minors art, management, psychology and sociology. Additionally, professional development courses are available online for K-12 educators.

Under statewide law, veterans and National Guard personnel from Massachusetts may qualify for tuition waivers in state-supported undergraduate courses. The Massachusetts Public Service Grant Program also eases the cost of higher education for the spouses and children of military servicemembers who have been killed in the line of duty or are currently missing in action. Westfield is a Yellow Ribbon school. In addition to a Veterans' Services Center located on campus, the university also offers counseling, tutoring and other dedicated services for military students. A full list of services, student organizations and other resources for veterans and active-duty servicemembers is available online.

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14 New England College 46.70 4/5 100% Henniker, NH

Originally founded in 1946 to train soldiers returning home from WWII, New England College continues its tradition of military-friendly education with a wide assortment of affordable, self-paced online courses and degree programs. Online bachelor's degrees are offered in 10 different subjects, including multiple concentration options for business administration, communication, criminal justice and psychology majors. Other pathways include: eight online associate degrees; and more than 20 online undergraduate and graduate certificates.

Roughly 15% of this institution's overall student body have served in the U.S. military, and the college has been named as a 'Military Friendly School' by G.I. Jobs. NEC offers unlimited Yellow Ribbon benefits to qualifying students. Additionally, the university provides the Russell Durgin Military Service Scholarship; named for a servicemember killed in action in Afghanistan, this award is designed to 'bridge the gap' between total undergraduate tuition and educational costs covered by the G.I. Bill. NEC recently unveiled a Veterans Resource Center, which was funded with grant support from the NH Commission on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

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15 Franklin University 46.70 4/5 84% Columbus, OH

A total of 35 online degree programs are offered through this Ohio-based institution. Franklin is a leading destination in business education, with 24 online bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees available. Other options include pathways in healthcare, information technology and criminal justice. With the exception of programs with clinical or practicum requirements, all coursework is delivered fully online in an asynchronous format.

Active-duty servicemembers and veterans enrolled at Franklin may be entitled to full Yellow Ribbons tuition coverage; the university does not impose a Yellow Ribbons cap, allowing all eligible students to receive these benefits in full. Students with a military background may also be eligible for Training Time, a tuition assistance program that awards financial aid based on the veteran student's enrollment status; and the Ohio National Guard Scholarship program, which awards more than $4,700 each trimester to Army and National Guard personnel enrolled at accredited higher learning institutions. Additionally, military dependents receive a 15% tuition discount on undergraduate degree programs and a 10% discount on graduate programs.

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16 University of Toledo 46.59 3/5 80% Toledo, OH

A wide range of online degree pathways are available through this Ohio-based institution. The university's associate and bachelor's online programs are largely concentrated in business, healthcare and computer science, while master's tracks are focused on fields like criminal justice, engineering, education and nursing. A total of 17 endorsements and certificates are delivered online, as well.

According to its mission statement, the Military Service Center at the University of Toledo "recognizes the sacrifices of our service members and their families and is dedicated to helping them achieve continued success in life". The center's services include military benefits processing, academic and personal counseling, advocacy and student networking. In addition to standard G.I. Bill benefits, University of Toledo students may also qualify for the Ohio National Guard Scholarship; this award provides 100% tuition coverage for eligible members of the Army and Air Force. The brick-and-mortar campus features 'Veteran's Plaza', a military memorial erected in 2009. The University of Toledo also became the first higher learning institution to dedicate unoccupied seats at its athletic venue for veterans who have served as prisoners of war or are currently missing in action.

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17 Central Texas College 45.91 1/5 64% Killeen, TX

Based in the town of Killeen (also home to Fort Hood, Central Texas College offers more than 60 online programs. Degree options are largely concentrated in vocational fields, such as applied technology, medical coding and billing, office technology and paralegal and legal assistant. Additionally, students majoring in business administration, computer science or hospitality management may choose from multiple degree specializations. More than 30 online professional certifications are available, as well.

Dedicated programs of study are available at Central Texas College for three military branches. Students in the U.S. Army may transfer up to 49 credits for military education and training experiences. The college lists 32 Army-specific degree plans; the majority of these programs are concentrated in vocational fields, such as agriculture, automotive collision, fire protection and office technology. The Marine Corps Career College Program (MCCCP) features 23 online associate degrees and 29 online certificates aimed at Marine Corps personnel with a military training background; courses in these pathways span from eight to 16 weeks in length per term. Finally, Central Texas College lists six online associate degrees and one certificate designed for students who are active or former Navy personnel. The college's website features online student centers for Coast Guard and Air Force personnel, as well.

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18 Lamar University 45.68 3/5 72% Beaumont, TX

Founded in 1923, this member of the Texas State University system is headquartered in the city of Beaumont. Lamar offers online bachelor's degrees in the arts and sciences, fine arts and communication, engineering and business. In addition, online master's degrees are available in arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, counseling and public health.

Equality for military students is a top priority at Lamar, where "[v]eterans are afforded the same rights and must meet all academic requirements and maintain the same academic standards as any student" attending the university. Under the Texas Hazlewood Exemption Act, military veterans and dependents originally from the state of Texas are eligible for up to 150 hours of tuition exemption; the Legacy Act stipulation enables certain qualified candidates to donate unused exemption hours to their children when they attend college. Lamar is home to a chapter of the Student Veterans Association; learn more about this chapter on its official Facebook page.

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19 Cardinal Stritch University 45.68 3/5 100% Milwaukee, WI

Located in the Milwaukee suburbs, Cardinal Stritch is a private Catholic institution that has offered online degrees and courses since 2006. A total of six degree programs are available online through the university: Bachelor of Science degrees in respiratory therapy, business management and management; an RN to BSN track for registered nurses; an MBA; and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership.

In addition to Yellow Ribbon and other federal benefits, military personnel and spouses receive a 25% tuition discount when they enroll at Cardinal Stritch. The school's Military Education branch works in cooperation with the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure students receive college credit for valid military training and experiences; students who have served in all five major branches of the Armed Forces and/or the Department of Defense may qualify for prior-learning assessment credit. Other veteran-oriented resources are available through the university's career services, wellness, academic support and disability services centers.

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20 National Louis University 43.75 3/5 75% Chicago, IL

Fully accredited online degree programs at this Chicago institution are offered through two academic divisions. The College of Professional Studies and Advancement features a total of 13 undergraduate and graduate online pathways; these include six bachelor's degrees, three MBA tracks and a doctorate in higher education leadership. Four master's degrees and one doctorate degree program are available online through the National College of Education, as well.

NLU students who have served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard may participate in a special joint-degree program; the Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative NLU Partnership Program (AU-ABC) was created through a partnership between the university and the Community College of the Air Force. NLU is a Yellow Ribbon school; veterans who do not qualify for Yellow Ribbon benefits will receive a 15% tuition discount. Additionally, the university offers a 25% tuition reduction for all active-duty servicemembers and a 15% discount for veterans, reservists, National Guard members and military dependents. Eligible military personnel will also receive textbook vouchers through NLU.

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21 University of the Incarnate Word 43.07 3/5 87% San Antonio, TX

Established in 1881, this private Catholic institution is headquartered in downtown San Antonio. A total of 27 fully online and hybrid degree programs are offered at UIW. These options include an undergraduate teacher certification and bachelor's degrees in business administration, health sciences, criminal justice and RN to BSN nursing, as well as five Master of Administration and seven MBA tracks.

UIW launched its Yellow Ribbon during the 2016-17 academic year. In addition to benefits through the DEA initiative, the university also honors the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship; this award is reserved for children and spouses of servicemembers who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Although some candidates may qualify for both programs, they must choose one; a side-by-side graph comparison for these two benefits programs is available online. The UIW Center for Veterans Affairs abides by a mission to "welcome and recognize all service members who are serving and who have served to protect the rights and freedoms of our country". The university was named among the nation's top colleges of 2016 by Military Advanced Education.

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22 Cameron University 39.55 3/5 79% Lawton, OK

Due to a nationwide reciprocity agreement, this Oklahoma institution's online degrees and courses are available to students in 44 other U.S. states. Associate and bachelor's degrees in two fields -- criminal justice and interdisciplinary studies -- are delivered fully online, and an additional 17 undergraduate programs are partially (96% to 64% online). Five master's degrees are offered fully or partially online, as well.

Cameron features degree completion programs geared toward active-duty servicemembers and veterans; these pathways incorporate credit from military trainings and experiences, and most students earn their degree within 12 to 18 months. Military training and experience credit evaluations are offered free-of-charge.The university honors benefits awarded through the Montgomery G.I. Bill, REAP, DEA and Vocational Rehabilitation, as well as the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Education Assistance Program (VEAP) dedicated to those who entered active duty between 1977 and 1985. Military students can receive VA benefits assistance and other services through the Cameron University Veterans Affairs branch.

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Next, let’s take a closer look at some of the standard military and veterans benefits available for today’s college students.

The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 was first enacted to provide educational and professional opportunities for returning WWII veterans. This act is better known today as the G.I. Bill. The following G.I. Bill provisions are commonly found at accredited colleges and universities across the country:

Montgomery G.I. Bill:

Launched in 1984, Chapter 30 of the bill is known as the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB). Under MGIB, active-duty military personnel may forfeit $100 per month for one calendar year; this monthly allotment will entitle them to a monthly educational stipend after they have completed at least two years of active duty. Furthermore, active-duty servicemembers may elect to forfeit an additional $600 per month as part of the ‘Buy-Up Program’; these candidates will receive repayment at a rate of up to eight dollars to one, resulting in a maximum payout of $5,400 in additional benefits. These benefits will expire after 10 years if they are not cashed out. The MGIB also features a provision for reservists known as Chapter 1606; eligible candidates will receive up to 36 months of education benefits.

Post-9/11 G.I. Bill:

This section of the G.I. Bill is designed for veterans who have entered active-duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Eligible candidates include personnel with a total of 90 active-duty service days since 9/11, as well as those who have been honorably discharged or received a service-connected disability after 30 days of active-duty service. The Post-9/11 provisions include two benefits programs that reduce out-of-pocket costs for military students. Schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon program will ‘match’ G.I. Bill tuition payments by contributing 50% of the overall benefits; currently, the maximum G.I. Bill payout for Yellow Ribbon recipients is $21,084.89 per year. The Transfer of Entitlement program also enables military students and spouses to donate all or some of their unused benefits to children who are attending college. Additionally, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill includes the Machine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship; this award is reserved for spouses and children of military personnel who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Finally, eligible recipients will be given a yearly textbook stipend of $1,000.

Chapter 31:

This comprehensive section of the G.I. Bill ― known as Vocational Rehabilitation, or Voc Rehab for short ― is dedicated to creating educational and educational opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Chapter 32:

Known as the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (or VEAP), this section of the G.I. Bill is geared toward veterans who entered active-duty service between 1977 and 1985. During that time, military personnel could elect to forfeit part of their pay and allocate the money toward educational programs. The military currently matches these contributions at a rate of 2 to 1.

Chapter 35:

Known as the Dependents Education Assistance Program (or DEA), this section of the G.I. Bill provides tuition assistance and other benefits to the spouses and children of military veterans who have been killed in the line of duty or permanently disabled as a result of military service. Eligible candidates will receive up to 45 months of education benefits.

Chapter 1607:

Reservists who have completed at least 90 active-duty service days are eligible for education benefits under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP). Currently, eligible recipients will receive up to 80% of the educational benefits given to active-duty personnel as they are reservists.

In addition to federal benefits awarded through the G.I. Bill, many colleges and universities offer extra provisions for active-duty servicemembers, veterans and military dependents. These perks may include:

  • Tuition discounts for eligible military personnel and dependents.
  • Benefits programs for servicemembers and veterans who may not qualify for Yellow Ribbon and other G.I. Bill benefits.
  • Prior-learning assessment (PLA) credits awarded for military trainings and experiences.
  • Institutional scholarships and grants reserved for students with a military background.

Academic support services are crucial for active-duty servicemembers and military veterans pursuing a college education. “[V]eterans follow very different paths to graduation compared with their traditional peers,” note the authors of Million Record Project, a research initiative launched by Student Veterans of America. “Despite these and other challenges common to nontraditional students, student veterans are persisting towards their educational goals and succeeding.”

The Million Record Project polled active-duty personnel, reservists and military veterans.
The project’s report noted that 51.7% of all students surveyed eventually earned a postsecondary certificate or degree program. However, nearly 80% of those polled who completed a college program also received G.I. Bill benefits. The survey also found that military students typically take longer to complete degree programs than traditional students; the median military student earned an associate degree after four years and a bachelor’s degree after five years. However, the report notes that ‘military-related factors’ often impact degree completion times. The majority of military students in the U.S. complete their education with a certificate or associate degree program; roughly one-third of those interviewed for the survey had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Thanks to prior-learning assessment (PLA) programs, military students can earn college credit from training programs and field experiences. Academic majors that tend to award the highest amount of PLA credit include business administration, information technology, engineering, nursing and health professions. Military students should carefully research PLA opportunities at different colleges and universities in order to determine which schools are the best match for their particular skill-set.

According to the 2015 Veteran Economic Opportunity Report, one out of two Post-9/11 veterans will experience a period of unemployment during their transition to civilian life. G.I. Bill benefits have played a major role for these individuals; post-9/11 veterans represent roughly 58% of the currently G.I. Bill benefits recipients, and another 8% have donated their unused benefits to a qualifying child who is attending college. Additionally, female students who receive G.I. Bill benefits recorded a 10% higher completion rate than the average for all benefits recipients. In 2013, the median annual income for veterans in the U.S. was $40,302 ― more than $10,000 higher than the median annual earnings for non-veterans.

Additional Support Services

Active-duty servicemembers, veterans or military dependents are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information about tuition assistance, career planning and other academic services for military students.

VetJobs:

This extensive employment listing site is dedicated to active-service personnel, reservists, National Guard members, veterans and military dependents. Site visitors can browse job openings, post resumes and find career fairs in their area.

G.I. Bill Comparison Tool:

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this interactive tool allows students to input their G.I. Bill benefits and compare the estimated cost of attending different schools. The tool includes a section for online students.

VFW Student Veteran Support:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hosts a web page dedicated to military students. The site includes scholarship opportunities, tips for choosing the right school and information about the VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship awarded to top-performing veteran students.

Popular Majors Among Veterans Attending College

Original Research

Best Military Friendly Colleges of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of La Verne La Verne, CA
2 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
4 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
5 University of Oklahoma Norman, OK
6 Northwood University - Michigan Midland, MI
7 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
8 Regis University Denver, CO
9 St. Joseph's College - New York Brooklyn, NY
10 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
11 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
12 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
13 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX
14 Southwestern College - Kansas Winfield, KS
15 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
16 Saint Martin's University Lacey, WA
17 St. Thomas Aquinas College Sparkill, NY
18 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
19 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI
20 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
21 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
22 Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI
23 Lamar University Beaumont, TX
24 University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX
25 Averett University Danville, VA
26 University of South Carolina - Beaufort Bluffton, SC
27 Mount St. Mary College Newburgh, NY
28 Methodist University Fayetteville, NC
29 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
30 Colorado Technical University Colorado Springs, CO
31 University of Great Falls Great Falls, MT
32 Brandman University Irvine, CA
33 Pierce College - Ft. Steilacoom Lakewood, WA
34 National University La Jolla, CA
35 Granite State College Concord, NH
36 Honolulu Community College Honolulu, HI
37 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
38 Technical College of the Lowcountry Beaufort, SC
39 Savannah Technical College Savannah, GA
40 Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD
41 Cameron University Lawton, OK
42 Central Texas College Killeen, TX
43 Franklin University Columbus, OH
44 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA
45 University of Maryland - University College Adelphi, MD