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.
- ARE ALL COLLEGES MILITARY FRIENDLY?
No. Not all schools participate in special programs or provide financial assistance specifically for members of the military, which means not all schools are military friendly.
- WHAT IS A MILITARY FRIENDLY COLLEGE?
Aside from participating in government programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program, and MyCAA, military-friendly colleges may provide special benefits such as military tuition assistance, credits for training or prior learning experiences, and military discounts.
- WHAT ARE MILITARY SPOUSE FRIENDLY SCHOOLS?
These schools may extend the same or similar benefits to spouses of military members in the form of financial assistance, scholarships, and/or military discounts.
- WHAT MAKES A SCHOOL MILITARY FRIENDLY?
A military-friendly school typically does more than participate in government-funded programs. They may provide credit for military training, special financial assistance, easy transfer credit options, and flexible class formats.
- DO VETERANS GET ACCEPTED TO COLLEGE EASIER?
No. While being a military member is a valuable experience that will impress most admission committees, military applicants typically must meet the same admission requirements as other prospective students.
Online degree programs offer an ideal academic pathway for many of today’s military servicemembers and veterans. 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 schools for military servicemembers and 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.
Accredited Online Schools for
Military Servicemembers & Veterans
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
Consistently ranked as one the best online schools for military students, the University of Florida offers a broad range of distance programs and a full suite of support services for military personnel. The University of Florida maintains three departments dedicated to assisting students with military backgrounds: the Office of Student Veteran Services, the Collegiate Veterans Success Center, and the Collegiate Veterans Society. Through these departments, students can liaise with federal, state, and local government support services and forge social and professional connections with other veterans.
This Gainesville-based institution also offers out-of-state fee waivers to qualified military students, allowing them to pay in-state tuition rates. Military students can also receive 100% federal tuition assistance to finance their educations without taking on loans or debt. Depending on a student’s service record, they may be able to obtain course credit for military experience, which can be applied toward their electives.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Founded in 1887, Raleigh-based North Carolina State University currently has more than 34,000 students, making it the largest higher-education network in the Carolinas. It is also one of the top online colleges for military students. In total, over 90 asynchronous degree, diploma, and licensure programs are available. Among these, the school’s leadership in the public sector program is particularly popular among online students with military backgrounds.
NC State’s Military and Veteran Services department recently opened a new Military and Veterans Resource Center, and the school regularly hosts hiring events and other networking opportunities for military students. In-state students with military backgrounds can have all of their tuition fees covered under Chapter 33-post 9/11 benefits. In the fall of 2016, NC State also joined the Yellow Ribbon program, which enables qualified out-of-state students to receive up to $11,400 per year in tuition assistance from the Veterans Administration (VA).
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
The University of Central Florida is one of the most military-friendly online colleges and universities in the United States. The Orlando-based school offers a comprehensive range of student services for military veterans through its Veterans Academic Resource Center. Active and former military service personnel can access civilian life readjustment services and psychological support programs through the university’s Veteran Services office. Distance learners have the same access to these resources as on-campus students.
Beyond the standard federal tuition assistance benefits, UCF’s military students can also access dedicated tutoring and academic advising services, as well as early registration opportunities. UCF exceeds the minimum “military friendly” ratings in six key categories: academic policies and compliance, admissions and orientation, culture and commitment, financial aid assistance, graduation and career services, and military student support and retention. UCF earned a perfect 100% rating in all six of these categories.
Texas A&M University
|College Station, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Regarded as one of the best military online colleges for veterans and active servicemembers, Texas A&M University has served student veterans since 1919. The College Station-based school supports military students through two dedicated departments: the Military Admissions Office and the Veteran Resource & Support Center. The Military Admissions Office provides armed forces applicants with dedicated advisors who help prospective students create competitive admissions applications. Founded in 2012, the Veteran Resource & Support Center offers referrals to campus- and community-based resources for veterans; assistance transitioning into the Texas A&M community; and workshops, social events, and networking opportunities. Qualified online students in Texas A&M’s asynchronous distance-learning programs enjoy full access to these resources. Both departments are backed by Texas A&M’s Veteran Services Office, which helps on-campus and online students maximize their tuition and financial aid benefits. One of the school’s unique programs is the Hazelwood Exemption, which grants out-of-state veterans access to in-state tuition rates and up to 150 credit hours of tuition exemptions.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 79%||
Northeastern University is a private research institution based in Boston, Massachusetts. The school emphasizes experiential learning and has made a concerted effort to help veterans and military students since World War I.
In 2009, Northeastern University pledged the maximum allowable amount of $2 million to its Yellow Ribbon program. In 2015, it opened the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers. This office helps graduating students with military backgrounds find employment; Northeastern’s military alumni have a 90% employment or graduate school admission rate within nine months of matriculation. This center is the first of its kind in the United States and is fully available to online students.
In addition to earning course credit for their military experience, veterans and servicemembers who study online enjoy access to an array of co-op, internship, and experiential learning opportunities. Northeastern University’s Global Network also liaises with more than 3,000 employers worldwide, providing military alumni with post-graduation career opportunities.
University of Minnesota -Twin Cities
|Minneapolis, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
The MBA programs at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are especially popular and are designed to be accessible to veterans and active or former servicemembers. The school’s unique Military REACH service provides extensive support to military veterans (and their families) who are transitioning back into civilian life. Additionally, the University of Minnesota maintains a flexible and compassionate policy in situations where online students must interrupt their studies to honor their active service commitments.
All veterans with at least 90 days of active service duty qualify for in-state tuition rates, and the school’s participation in federal and state tuition reimbursement programs can dramatically reduce the cost of online attendance. Transfer credit opportunities are also available to incoming military students with previous educational experiences. These factors combine to make the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities one of America’s best military-friendly online colleges.
University of Southern California
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
The Los Angeles-based University of Southern California has assisted American veterans since World War I, when the school’s campus was temporarily repurposed as a military training academy. Students enrolled in the school’s online programs enjoy a large amount of flexibility, including the opportunity to complete coursework and earn a degree even if they are deployed to active duty. Some of USC’s most popular programs are its online MBA, geographic information science, military social work, cyber security, and public administration programs.
USC accepts full GI Bill benefits and is a participant in the federal Yellow Ribbon military student funding program. Military veterans, reservists, and their dependents are served through USC’s Veterans Resource Center, which offers a wide range of support resources that are available to online students. Additionally, servicemembers who previously completed comparable coursework at an accredited U.S. military academy may qualify for transfer credits. One of the nation’s most prominent higher-learning institutions, USC is also one of the best military-friendly colleges online.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
Recognized as one of the leading military-friendly schools online, Penn State maintains a Military Grant-in-Aid initiative specifically designed for veterans and active servicemembers enrolled in distance-learning programs. All USAF members, including reservists and National Guard members, qualify for Military Grant-in-Aid assistance, which reduces tuition rates by as much as 44%; these reductions do not count toward other federal and state military education benefits. Students can apply to more than 125 online programs, all of which offer asynchronous learning opportunities to provide flexibility.
Penn State’s Military Support Team is made up of full-time, dedicated staff members who help military veterans succeed in both on-campus and online programs. Students can also receive credit for certain professional and life experiences, allowing incoming applicants to parlay their service time into course credits to significantly reduce the time required to complete their degree.
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
|Lincoln, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
A participant in the federal GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers support to students interested in continuing their education after periods of active service. UNL made the maximum possible commitment to the Yellow Ribbon initiative, helping students bridge the financial gaps that arise when tuition and fees exceed the assistance offered by the post-9/11 GI Bill.
The school’s administration maintains a dedicated Military & Veteran Success Center, which offers student aid, tuition assistance, and academic support programs. In addition, the UNL Student Veterans Organization provides mentorship services, work-study programs, and peer-based community resources to all members of the UNL community, including those who study online.
Another policy that makes UNL one of the top military-friendly schools online is its generous transfer credit policy. Both academic and military training experiences can be applied towards certain UNL degrees; to be considered for these transfer credits, a student must provide a valid Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214) form.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
|Rolla, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Based in the city of Rolla, Missouri University of Science and Technology maintains a close affiliation with Fort Leonard Wood, which is a military training center located in the Missouri Ozarks. Missouri S&T has a co-op agreement with Fort Leonard Wood’s Truman Education Center and Engineering School, providing educational opportunities that can lead to master’s degrees in four engineering disciplines. The school also has a compassionate withdrawal policy for military students who get called out on active duty, including a 100% tuition reimbursement option. Additionally, current and former servicemembers who apply to traditional or online military science programs at Missouri S&T automatically qualify for advanced standing.
Another aspect that makes Missouri S&T one of the best online colleges for military students is its Veteran Services department. The school’s strong and longstanding links with local military facilities allows it to offer a more robust and comprehensive range of support, mentoring, and transition assistance services than many other educational institutions.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
|Daytona Beach, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Located in Daytona Beach, Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is one of the best online schools for military students with an interest in aeronautics and technology. The school offers asynchronous online programs in seven key disciplines: applied sciences, aviation, business, computers and technology, engineering, security and intelligence, and space sciences. This makes the school a particularly attractive option to current or former members of the United States Air Force.
Embry-Riddle is home to many retired and active-duty military faculty members. The school also offers reduced tuition fees to active service personnel and automatically charges students with military backgrounds the lowest available tuition rates for each of its academic programs.
Another feature that makes Embry-Riddle a top online college for military students is its status as the world’s only institution with contract authorization to provide aviation courses to American military members stationed in Europe, Japan, and South Korea. The school’s global reach, generous financial aid opportunities, and online presence at U.S. military facilities around the world make it an excellent option for students pursuing science-related educational opportunities.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Miami-based Florida International University has a broad range of online undergraduate programs that are taught asynchronously. The school also offers special application and enrollment assistance to current and former military servicemembers. Military training qualifies for transfer credits toward all FIU programs, helping students complete their degrees faster. Staff and student volunteers at the school’s Veteran and Military Affairs department provide detailed transfer credit assistance, education benefits support, and a range of community-based services.
FIU is also one of the best military online colleges for students interested in pursuing a corporate master’s of business administration (CMBA) degree. This 18-month program features 100% online courses, multiple start dates, tuition assistance, and no residency requirements. All qualified applicants are eligible for an FIU CMBA scholarship worth $10,000. Recipients of the Purple Heart or any of the Combat Decoration Superior in Precedence medals also receive automatic tuition waivers at FIU.
University of Arkansas
|Fayetteville, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Founded in Fayetteville in 1871, the University of Arkansas is one of the top online colleges for military students when it comes to financial aid opportunities. In addition to participating in the Yellow Ribbon and post-9/11 GI Bill programs, the University of Arkansas offers its own set of scholarships to current and former servicemembers. Key examples include the Military Servicemembers Scholarship, which carries a value of up to $4,000 per academic year, and the Military Dependent Scholarship, which is available to dependents of active military personnel. All financial aid applications are reviewed by a dedicated Military Scholarship Committee.
Online students at the University of Arkansas pay in-state tuition fees, regardless of their physical location, and can choose from dozens of different undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Many of the school’s online courses are delivered asynchronously. Students with previous service in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces are also automatically eligible to receive six credit hours. The school’s Veterans Resource and Information Center is open to online students and provides access to a range of community, medical, local, state, and national resources and support services.
East Carolina University
|Greenville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Greenville, North Carolina’s East Carolina University is one of the nation’s most supportive online military colleges, earning recognition as a top school for combat veterans, active military servicemembers, and their spouses and families. Through its Student Veteran Services department, ECU employs a dedicated Veteran Success on Campus (VSoC) counselor, whose full-time duty is ensuring the transitional and academic success of military students. The VSoC’s office provides full service to students in online programs and connects them to vital financial, medical, mental health, and academic resources.
ECU also has a specialized Military Outreach program that meets the needs of servicemembers enrolled in online courses. Furthermore, all traditional and online ECU students, as well as their spouses and dependents, can take advantage of the school’s Military Trauma and Counseling Network, which is available through ECU’s Department of Addictions & Rehabilitation Studies.
University of Missouri - Columbia
|Columbia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
The University of Missouri-Columbia, or “Mizzou,” holds a progressive stance on diversity and inclusion; this is fully extended to current and former members of the military. The school’s Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative includes many veteran-specific policies that make the Mizzou community more accessible to servicemembers. Many military-oriented student programs are accessible through the school’s Veterans Center, which serves as a complete resource for military personnel. Further support, networking opportunities, and social activities are available through the student-led Mizzou Student Veterans Association, which is available to distance learners.
Applicants applying to Mizzou as transfer students require a GPA of at least 2.5. A wide range of scholarships and financial aid programs are available to military students, and the school’s status as one of the best military-friendly online colleges has been recognized by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
|Greensboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Recognized as one of the nation’s top military-friendly online colleges, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has recently experienced a large influx in servicemembers joining its student body. Between 2008 and 2014, the school saw a 90% increase in the number of military student enrollments, thanks in large part to its commitments to the post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funding programs. The school also offers out-of-state tuition waivers to students with access to VA benefits, and bridge loans are available to military students.
Servicemembers who have completed basic training automatically qualify for six academic credit hours, and military students with more advanced experiences may be eligible to receive additional transfer credits. Academic support, health, and networking resources through the school’s Military & Veteran Services department are fully available to online students.
Colorado State University
|Greenwood Village, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado State University’s Global Campus features a wide range of online learning opportunities. The school offers a simplified admissions process to military applicants, as well as an automatic 10% tuition discount to active-duty servicemembers, military spouses and dependents, and honorably-discharged veterans. CSU also features a tuition guarantee program, which ensures that your tuition rate won’t increase while you’re actively pursuing your degree; this makes it one of the top military online colleges from a financial perspective. The school also has a U.S. Military Personnel & Family Scholarship program that covers the cost of up to six undergraduate or graduate credits.
Military training and occupational experiences are welcomed by CSU’s generous transfer credit system. Applicants with service backgrounds are invited to submit their military transcripts for automatic transfer credit consideration. Coursework in 13 undergraduate and 11 graduate academic disciplines is delivered asynchronously, providing distance learners with a large amount of flexibility.
The University of Alabama
|Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Founded in 1820, the Tuscaloosa-based University of Alabama is the state’s largest and oldest public higher-education institution. The school’s extensive Office of Veteran and Military Affairs offers a range of services to online students with service backgrounds, including tutoring, work-study programs, textbook assistance, and health support.
Alabama residents honored with a Purple Heart receive a scholarship that provides up to $2,500 a year in funding beyond tuition and enrollment costs. Additional scholarship opportunities are also administered by the office, providing funding to cover fees not paid for by the post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs. These financial aid opportunities help make this school one of the nation’s top military-friendly online colleges.
Active-duty members of the U.S. Army qualify for admission to the GoArmyEd program. Asynchronous undergraduate and graduate degree programs are also offered in a range of fields including commerce and business administration, engineering, law, nursing, and social work.
Arizona State University - Tempe
|Tempe, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the best online schools for military students who are interested in pursuing undergraduate or MBA degrees. Through the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which is accessible to distance learners, ASU’s military community members receive extensive transition, academic support, and social resources. The center also liaises with the school’s career services office to connect servicemembers with work-study programs, internships, and extracurricular career training opportunities.
The ASU community is home to more than 5,200 military-affiliated students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. The school is also a full participant in federal funding programs for servicemembers, including the post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP), and the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Incoming military students are eligible for the school’s Military Active Duty and Reservist Commitment Scholarship, which is open to both in-state and out-of-state applicants who have a minimum GPA of 2.0.
Texas Tech University
|Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Established in Lubbock in 1923, Texas Tech University is one of the top military-friendly colleges online thanks to its broad range of academic programs, generous financial aid system, and extensive resources for veterans and military students. Servicemembers can apply for up to 11 different military exemptions and benefits, which can significantly reduce or fully cover their tuition costs. Additionally, the school’s Office of Military and Veteran Programs provides in-depth assistance to incoming students who need help understanding the full range of available financial benefits.
Created in 2010, Texas Tech’s Military and Veterans Program (MVP) has grown into one of the largest and most extensive servicemember academic support networks in the United States. In addition to providing further assistance with financial issues, the MVP office organizes social events, provides access to campus and off-campus health and support resources, and assists students with career placement. Texas Tech offers dozens of fully-online certificate, diploma, and degree programs at all levels, including PhD programs in seven disciplines.
|Longview, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christian institution with a reputation as one of the country’s best online military colleges. The school’s distance-learning programs are taught asynchronously and feature a range of concentrations, including aviation, Bible studies, computer information systems, and psychology.
The school is a full participant in the post-9/11 GI Bill education funding program and offers transfer credit opportunities based on military training and deployment experiences. Furthermore, LeTourneau University has a dedicated Veterans Affairs (VA) representative who is available to help students enrolled in online programs. This officer provides assistance accessing school-based resources to help military students successfully transition back into a civilian learning program.
Active and retired Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps servicemembers can easily arrange to have their military transcripts forwarded directly to the university to expedite the application process; this service is offered free of charge.
University of South Florida
|Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
The University of South Florida has a dedicated Office of Veteran Success, making it one of the leading military-friendly schools online. Open to distance learners, this office provides comprehensive programs for student veterans and servicemembers, including help connecting with financial aid opportunities, mentorship and academic enhancement programs, transitional programs, and scholarships. It also assists veterans who need to access health resources to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
The University of South Florida is the only public university in the state that participates in the federal Yellow Ribbon program. Under USF’s generous transfer credit policy, students with military background can earn credit based on their previous education and training experiences; this credit can be applied towards both core degree requirements and elective coursework.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
|Fairbanks, AK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is a leading online college for military students, offering in-state tuition for all distance learners with military backgrounds through its post-9/11 GI Bill benefits program. For students on active duty, this offer extends to spouses and dependent children; additionally, the spouses and dependent children of armed forces members who died in the line of duty are eligible to have their undergraduate tuition fees fully waived. Additionally, active members of Alaska’s National Guard can have $4,500 of their undergraduate tuition fees reimbursed per academic year.
UAF also offers a flexible and inclusive transfer credit policy that lets servicemembers with military training and academic experiences receive course credit. Applicants can have their military transcripts forwarded to UAF free of charge. Additional resources are available through the school’s office of Veteran & Military Services, which assists both traditional and online students.
University of South Carolina - Columbia
|Columbia, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
The University of South Carolina-Columbia is one of the leading military-friendly online colleges and universities in the South. In addition to full participation in the federal Yellow Ribbon program, the school supports veterans and servicemembers through the Chapter 30, 31, 33, 35, and 1606 education assistance initiatives. Both on-campus and online students with military backgrounds are welcomed at the school’s Student Veterans Association, which was founded in 2012 to provide community members with access to academic, financial, health, social, and professional resources.
Veterans and active-duty servicemembers also qualify for priority registration access. Students can pursue degrees in 14 undergraduate disciplines as well as a host of graduate-level degrees, including online master’s programs in education and nursing. Several of the school’s asynchronous online degree programs are nationally ranked.
Oklahoma State University
|Stillwater, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Situated in Stillwater, Oklahoma State University’s main campus is the headquarters of the National Society of Scabbard and Blade, which is a prominent military college honor society founded in 1904. The school’s Veteran Benefit Services division is dedicated to helping military servicemembers access a wide range of financial and community benefits, making OSU one of the best online colleges for military personnel.
Online students also have access to the office of Veteran Student Academic Services, which provides advising and access to academic success resources. It also serves as a liaison between the school and local, state, and national veteran services, and works to preserve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all military members in the OSU community.
OSU is a participant in the post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs, and students are eligible to apply for transfer credits that reward their previous military training and academic experiences. Fully-online, asynchronous programs are offered in a variety of fields, including business and engineering.
Next, let’s take a closer look at some of the standard military and veterans benefits available for today’s college students.
The Servicemen'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 OUTCOMES FOR MILITARY STUDENTS
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Best Military Friendly Colleges of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 2 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO 3 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 5 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD 6 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 7 Troy University Troy, AL 8 Utah State University Logan, UT 9 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 10 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI 11 Columbia College Columbia, MO 12 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN 13 Westfield State University Westfield, MA 14 New England College Henniker, NH 15 Franklin University Columbus, OH 16 University of Toledo Toledo, OH 17 Central Texas College Killeen, TX 18 Lamar University Beaumont, TX 19 Cardinal Stritch University Milwaukee, WI 20 National Louis University Chicago, IL 21 University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX 22 Cameron University Lawton, OK
- 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