Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges

What's a military-friendly college? Learn about the benefits of attending military-friendly online colleges and how they support military personnel, veterans, and family members.
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Updated on April 8, 2024
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  • Beyond the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, military-friendly online colleges may offer more tuition assistance and discounts for current and former service members.
  • Most accredited colleges offer military tuition benefits.
  • Some 25 million recipients have received more than $400 military benefits as of 2021.
  • Veterans in college are more likely to be married, working, and raising kids, compared to non-veteran students.

Navigating the landscape of college after the military can feel like no-man's-land. Online military-friendly colleges understand that military students want the highest return on their investment when using their benefits.

The United States has some 16.2 million veterans as of 2022 and 1.39 million active duty military members at home and abroad as of 2023. Military-friendly online colleges offer services and resources dedicated to helping veteran students, military service members, and their families.

So, why go to a military-friendly college? We'll walk you through the benefits of attending military-friendly online colleges, financial aid options for military students, and tuition estimates.

Featured Military-Friendly Schools

3 Benefits of a Military-Friendly College

  1. Academic Credit for Military Experience. Military-friendly colleges accept Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force credits for military training and vocational specialties in accordance with the American Council on Education. They have experience evaluating Joint Service Transcripts and Community College of the Air Force transcripts.
  2. Resources and Support Services for the Military. Transitioning from service to school can be difficult. You want to attend a college that offers a designated center or lounge for veterans. An online school may have a dedicated page of resources for veterans. A liaison to help active duty military and veteran students access resources or process fee waivers also makes the transition easier. In addition, look for student organizations for veterans and military personnel.
  3. Discounts For Military Personnel and Veterans. Many colleges offer discounted tuition, application fee waivers, and scholarships to military members, their families, and veterans. This is important because the GI Bill may not cover the total cost of college.

Best Online Colleges for Military Students

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#1 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Southern New Hampshire University has been a military-friendly college for more than 80 years. The school oversees more than 200 online programs. SNHU also offers tuition discounts of up to 30% for active military personnel and their spouses.

Prospective undergraduate students need only a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission. Military students may receive up to 90 transfer credits for job training or professional military education. They may also qualify for active-duty tuition assistance, Veteran Readiness and Employment services, GI Bill benefits, and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $320

Undergrad, out of state | $320

Graduate, in-state | $627

Graduate, out of state | $627


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,600
Out-of-state
$9,600
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,810
Out-of-state
$18,810
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
67%
Acceptance Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
134,345
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#2 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University oversees more than 100 online bachelor's programs and over 300 online master's programs. The military-friendly college offers military degree plans, including tuition discounts and tuition assistance, technology fee waivers, and support during deployment and returns.

Prospective students need a high school diploma or its equivalent for undergraduate admission. Liberty provides transfer credit for approved military training and education. The school also offers benefits through GI Bill programs, the Yellow Ribbon Program, Veteran Readiness and Employment services, and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $390-$455

Undergrad, out of state | $390-$455

Graduate, in-state | $565-$615

Graduate, out of state | $565-$615


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$14,791
Out-of-state
$14,791
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,935
Out-of-state
$7,935
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
93,349
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

At the University of Central Florida, online military students have access to more than 100 degree programs. The military-friendly college provides military benefits through GI Bill programs, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and Veteran Readiness and Employment services. UCF also offers tuition assistance, military scholarships, and free tuition for Florida National Guard members. 

Prospective undergraduate students need a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and SAT or ACT scores for admission. Military students are given a specialized transition plan, academic advising, and career support upon entry.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $179

Undergrad, out of state | $716

Graduate, in-state | $327

Graduate, out of state | $1,152


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,916
Out-of-state
$25,759
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
92%
Acceptance Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
71,881
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

Averett University

  • Danville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Graduate and Professional Studies division at Averett University offers online programs in seven main fields, including business, education, and nursing. This military-friendly college provides military tuition discounts of 25-50%, military scholarships, and benefits like GI Bill benefits, Veteran Readiness and Employment services, and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Prospective students need a high school diploma or its equivalent for admission. Military students can qualify for up to 90 transfer credits for experience and training.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $480

Undergrad, out of state | $480

Graduate, in-state | $530-$695

Graduate, out of state | $530-$695


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,520
Out-of-state
$11,520
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,790
Out-of-state
$11,790
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
472
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

Arizona State University

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online

One of the top military-friendly colleges, Arizona State University enrolls more than 6,000 military personnel. The school offers nearly 300 online programs and certificates. Military students have access to GI Bill benefits, tuition assistance, the Veterans Educational Assistance Program, and spouse and dependent program benefits. 

ASU is also home to the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and provides specialized student services to veterans and active-duty military. Prospective students need a high school or GED diploma for admission. Enrolled students may receive transfer credits for military training and education.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $561-$661

Undergrad, out of state | $561-$661

Graduate, in-state | $543-$1,343

Graduate, out of state | $543-$1,343


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$10,820
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,516
Out-of-state
$6,516
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
53,993
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#6 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

University of Massachusetts Global

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Formerly known as Brandman University, the University of Massachusetts Global is a military-friendly college with more than 90 online programs. The school offers military transition programs, tuition assistance programs, and tuition discounts of up to 50% for military personnel. 

UMass Global also provides GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program benefits, support for military spouses and dependents, and education assistance programs. Prospective students need a high school diploma with a 2.0 minimum GPA for admission.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $500

Undergrad, out of state | $500

Graduate, in-state | $680

Graduate, out of state | $680


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$12,000
Out-of-state
$12,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,060
Out-of-state
$12,060
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
10,986
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#7 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Adelphi, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online

The University of Maryland Global Campus is a military-friendly college that provides reduced tuition and tuition assistance programs for active-duty personnel and veterans. The school also provides military benefits through GI Bill programs, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and military scholarships. Learners can choose from more than 90 online programs.

Prospective students need a high school diploma or (or the equivalent) for admission. Admitted students may receive transfer credits for their military experience and training.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $306

Undergrad, out of state | $499

Graduate, in-state | $504

Graduate, out of state | $659


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,200
Out-of-state
$11,976
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,640
Out-of-state
$11,862
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
55%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
58,526
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#8 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges

Syracuse University

  • Syracuse, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

One of the top military-friendly colleges, Syracuse University runs nearly 60 online programs. Syracuse students can access Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits, tuition assistance programs, and the Yellow Ribbon Program. GI Bill benefits are also available — Syracuse helped create the original bill in 1944.

Prospective students need a high school or GED diploma and standardized test scores for entry. Military students may qualify for experiential transfer credits.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $1,864

Undergrad, out of state | $1,864

Graduate, in-state | $1,734

Graduate, out of state | $1,734


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$53,432
Out-of-state
$53,432
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$40,392
Out-of-state
$40,392
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
21,322
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#9 Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges Best Value

Thomas Edison State University

  • Trenton, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online

Thomas Edison State University is a military-friendly college with more than 100 online programs and certificates. The school offers discounted tuition rates, tuition assistance programs, and scholarships for military personnel. TESU also provides GI Bill and Veterans Affairs benefits and support for military spouses and dependents. 

Prospective students need a high school or GED diploma for admission. Once admitted, military students connect with a military-specific advisor. They may qualify for transfer credits for their experience and training.

Avg. Cost per Credit

Undergrad, in-state | $399

Undergrad, out of state | $519

Graduate, in-state | $668-$905

Graduate, out of state | $668-$905


Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,182
Out-of-state
$9,342
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,024
Out-of-state
$12,024
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
10,495
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. This ranking is from 2023. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that's best for you. In choosing the best online military-friendly colleges, they must must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Offer credit for military training
  • Have a dedicated point of contact for support services for veterans, military service members, and their families
  • House a recognized student veteran organization
  • Be a member of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)

Financial Aid Opportunities for Military Students

What's the best way to pay for a military-friendly college? Fortunately, service members and veterans qualify for all kinds of financial aid and support.

Based on military service, you may qualify for the GI Bill® and Yellow Ribbon Program, which can cover 100% of tuition and other education expenses. You may also qualify for financial aid through military tuition assistance programs and scholarship opportunities for service members and veterans. In addition,submitting the FAFSA will help connect you to college grants, scholarships, and loans.

When researching financial aid, check which schools accept veteran and military financial benefits.

GI Bill

Military students can take advantage of the GI Bill to cover education expenses. Eligible service members include those who served at least 90 days on active duty and dependent children of qualifying service members.

The GI Bill covers up to the full cost of in-state tuition and fees at public universities. Recipients also qualify for up to $27,120 at private institutions. The GI Bill can also help cover housing, books, supplies, and relocation expenses.

Check out our guide to learn more about GI Bill benefits.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program provides additional financial support for expenses not covered by the GI Bill. Recipients must meet the GI Bill eligibility requirements. The program also covers active duty service members if they have already served 36 months.

The amount of financial support varies depending on the agreement between the VA and your school. Only participating schools offer Yellow Ribbon funding, and many set a maximum number of recipients, so reach out to your school for more information. The program is usually only applicable to for-profit or private schools.

Military Tuition Assistance

Each branch of the military offers a tuition assistance program. Tuition assistance may cover up to 100% of tuition expenses. However, recipients must meet eligibility requirements based on their branch of service.

For example, the Air Force provides up to $4,500 per year for active duty and reserve members, while the Army covers up to $4,000 per year. The Navy, Marines, and Space Force also provide up to $4,500 per year, though the benefit only extends to active-duty members. The Coast Guard offers up to $3,750 per year. Check with your school's certifying official for information.

Scholarships

Military students qualify for multiple college scholarships. In addition to general scholarships, you can apply for military and veteran scholarships. Military students enrolled in online colleges also qualify for online student scholarships. Research scholarship opportunities to identify funding sources.

Grants

Like scholarships, college grants represent free money for school. Military students qualify for the Pell Grant, which offers up to $7,395 for the 2024-2025 school year. Children of service members who died in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 and who qualify for the Pell Grant may also qualify for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

How to Choose an Online Military-Friendly College

The best online colleges for military students offer affordability, online student resources, and veteran support. But how should you compare online schools for military service members and veterans? This section discusses the factors to consider when choosing an online college as a veteran or military student.

Cost

Undergraduate students at public four-year colleges in the 2021-2022 school year paid a national average of $9,596 for tuition and fees, compared to $34,041 at private four-year colleges, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Many factors influence the real cost of college. Generally, private schools cost more than public schools, and out-of-state student are charged a higher rate.

That said, online students often pay a flat tuition rate or can often qualify for out-of-state discounts.

Veteran and Military Services and Programs

True military-friendly schools offer support services and programs even before enrollment. Colleges may offer an orientation specifically for veterans or serving military members.

Military-friendly online colleges also have dedicated services, programs, and advisors to help you get your military transcripts, obtain application fee waivers, and even get priority registration. You may also find career assistance and internships specifically for veterans.

Online Learning Format

Online learning can be an ideal format for active duty service members or busy military students who have jobs and/or families. Online degrees often use asynchronous coursework that lets you submit classwork and watch pre-recorded lectures on your own time.

Your college may also offer courses on base or at a nearby satellite campus. The availability of online courses depends on the school and your degree.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Military-Friendly Colleges

What makes a college military-friendly?

A military-friendly college caters to the specific needs of troops and their spouses. These colleges and universities have dedicated independent centers with advisors for veterans and military personnel. You'll also find resources such as separate centers, lounges, or student organizations and clubs that offer a chance to connect with other military students.

Some colleges earn the Military Friendly Schools or Military Friendly Spouse School designation by completing an extensive survey provided by VIQTORY, a veteran-owned business not affiliated with the Department of Defense.

Should I go to college before or after the military?

There are benefits to enrolling in college before joining the military or joining the military and then attending college. For example, enlistees who already hold a college degree may qualify for officer candidate school or higher ranks. Several programs exist to help military service members with college loans repay their debt.

However, going to college after joining the military also offers major benefits. Service members and veterans qualify for education benefits like the GI Bill and military tuition assistance programs. They can also qualify for scholarships and grants based on their service.

Is military college free?

There are several military academies, including the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

These academies do not charge tuition for enlistees because the education students receive is part of their military training. However, students who enroll at these military academies must agree to a term of military service to cover the cost of their education, which ranges from 5-8 years, depending on the military academy.

Can you be in the military while going to college?

Yes, you can go to college while in the military on active duty or in the reserves. Many active duty personnel can qualify to use their education benefits. Roughly 236,992 active duty military members used their education benefits from October 2019 to September 2020, according to the Hechinger Report.

Do all colleges accept military tuition assistance?

For certain types of education benefits like the Yellow Ribbon Program, colleges must contract with the Department of Veteran Affairs. However, most colleges accept military tuition benefits. These benefits provide $3,750-$4,500 per year in tuition support.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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