Information & Data
While both military veterans and current service members may have reservations about pursuing a college education, there are numerous benefits available to those seeking higher education. While in service, military personnel may receive tuition assistance of up to $4,500 per year, in addition to other financial assistance programs for active duty and veterans including various GI bills, loan repayment programs, vocational rehabilitation and employment programs. Financial aid is also available specifically for military reserves, as well as survivors and dependents of veterans.
In addition to financial assistance, many potential active-duty students are at the mercy of an uncertain schedule, with no time to plan on-campus course work. Online classes present an ideal way to overcome this challenge. Those enrolled in online classes may also experience increased ease of adjustment into a sustainable career once they complete their degree.
Just how valuable is a college education for veterans and those in the military? While many who have served or are currently serving our country are not aware of the increased enrichment opportunities that may be available through a college degree, the proof is in the numbers. Under the GI Bill, introduced after 9/11, more than 50% of military veterans seeking a college degree completed a program in higher education, a major increase from single-digit percentages in recent years. According to a study released in 2014 by the Student Veterans of America, the 3.5 million veterans who used education benefits between 2002 and 2010 to obtain college degrees in popular subjects such as business, social sciences, and homeland security were more successful post-graduation than other non-traditional student groups attending college or graduate school during those years.
We referenced U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Top 200 National Universities’ to build our list, and made special note of at least five military programs available 100% online. While virtually every accredited college and university in the U.S. offers some form of specialized services for veterans, our list is exclusively reserved for the schools that, in addition to their inclusion on this prestigious ranking, meet each of the following three criteria:
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Members: Launched in 1972, this program is centered on assisting active military personnel who struggle to earn a college degree due to frequent relocation. The SOC is co-managed by the Department of Defense, ‘active’ and ‘reserve’ arms of the five major military branches (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy) and the National Guard, and 15 higher education associations.
- ACE Credit Honored: The American Council on Education (ACE) works directly with the U.S. Armed Forces to assess military training and programs. Schools that honor ACE credits allow veterans to put credits earned toward their degree of choice.
- Yellow Ribbon Program/Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Participant: Under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, all tuition and resident fees for public higher education will be paid for military veterans who have served at least 36 months since September 2001; private school tuition and fees will also be partially covered. Active service members are not eligible for this form of tuition assistance, but are considered eligible once they have received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces and meet the other criteria. At a minimum, schools honoring the Yellow Ribbon Program have at least 50 available slots, though many colleges and universities now offer unlimited availability. The schools on our list honoring in the Yellow Ribbon Program were selected for their inclusive participation, though specific funding may vary per program and degree-level.