The best colleges for veterans offer top-tier resources and support that allow service members to thrive. You can develop valuable skills that could help you advance your military career or transition to civilian life.
An online college degree program offers extra flexibility to accommodate your busy schedule. Plus, thanks to the GI Bill and other programs, you may qualify for military education benefits that provide tuition assistance.
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Choosing a military-friendly college that understands veterans’ unique challenges and perspectives could help set you up for success in the classroom and job market.
Best Colleges for Veterans Online
You may have spent years developing expertise and overcoming obstacles as a service member. Finding a school that values these experiences and provides resources for veterans can help you succeed academically. But it’s not always easy to figure out which schools are the best options for veterans.
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Luckily, looking for a few things can help you find the best universities for military veterans. For instance, many schools offer on-campus support staff who work closely with veterans and their spouses and dependents. Larger universities often have a veterans center that provides services for current and former military members. At smaller schools, you may be able to work with an academic advisor who specializes in helping veterans.
Resources offered by veterans centers and support staff may include:
- Assistance with college and scholarship applications
- Career services
- Class scheduling assistance
- Mediation for conflicts between instructors and students
- Mental health services
- Orientation for incoming veterans
- Tutoring services
- Workshops for veterans
Many top schools for veterans also provide extracurricular opportunities for military members and their families. The initiatives can help you socialize with other veterans and develop skills outside of the classroom.
For example, the best schools for veterans often have:
- Chapters of national and state student veterans organizations
- Honors societies for veterans
- Outreach programs for veterans
- Professional development programs
- Regular social events for veterans
- A special veterans’ lounge
- Volunteer organizations for veterans
Schools that value veterans may also offer financial resources to make your degree more affordable, such as:
- Application fee waivers for veterans
- Discounted or in-state tuition rates for veterans
- Scholarships for veterans
- Support staff who can help you maximize your military education benefits
- Transfer credit fee waivers
Finally, the best universities for military veterans have a supportive atmosphere that allows students to flourish inside and outside the classroom. You might consider looking for an online program with these benefits:
- Accommodations for disabled veterans
- Faculty who frequently work closely with veteran students
- Flexible attendance policies for active service members
- Transfer credits for military experience
- Year-round admissions
Looking for programs that offer these resources may help you find the best college for veterans.
College Benefits for Veterans
Is a college degree the right next step for you? Attending an online college program can offer veterans many personal and professional benefits.
The advantages could include the following:
- Balance life and school. You don’t have to put your life on hold for school. A flexible online program can allow you to balance college with family, military, and work commitments. You could finish your degree on the timeline that works for you.
- Boost your earning potential. Earning a college degree may help you secure a more advanced and higher-paying position after your military service. Most specialized professions require relevant degrees.
- Build a strong support network. Many veterans face challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. In college, you can develop a support system of advisors, peers, and professors. These allies can help you overcome academic and personal difficulties.
- Benefit from veteran-specific resources. There are veteran-friendly colleges that offer a range of benefits for veterans. These can include tuition discounts or financial aid opportunities, veterans centers, tutoring and career services, and more.
- Develop professionally. Online programs often have career services and extracurricular opportunities to help you gain professional skills. For example, your college may host a career fair, organize volunteer opportunities in your major, or hold workshops about resume writing. These resources can help you network with potential employers and polish your communication skills.
- Increase your marketability. Many employers prefer to hire college graduates from accredited colleges. A college degree can help give you a leg up over the competition and help your job application stand out from the crowd.
Enrolling in an online college program can jumpstart your post-military career and help you expand your skill set.
How to Choose the Best University for Military Veterans
What’s the best university for military veterans? The answer depends on your personal goals and needs. After all, veterans are individuals, and the perfect program for other veterans may not be the right fit for you.
Here are a few considerations that can help you compare schools:
- Affordability. You may qualify for education benefits from the military, but this assistance doesn’t always cover every expense. To ensure that you can afford your chosen school, consider researching the costs and contacting the school’s veterans’ office before applying.
- Available majors. If you already know what career you want to pursue, you can select a school that offers a relevant major. You can also research the program’s curriculum to ensure that the school has classes in your areas of interest. If you’re undecided, picking a school that lets you explore diverse majors could be a strategic choice.
- Networking opportunities. Some schools require you to complete an internship or experiential learning project in your field. These projects can be an opportunity to network with employers.
- Resources for veterans. The best colleges for veterans provide services and resources to support you in every step of your educational journey. It can be strategic to look for a school that offers veterans a variety of extracurricular activities, organizations, and support staff.
Considering these factors can help you select the best programs at on-campus or online military friendly colleges for your unique budget, career aspirations, and personal needs.
Getting College Credits for Military Experience
Many colleges recognize the value of your military experience by granting military transfer credits. These transfer credits can reduce the number of coursework hours you need to complete, which could shorten the length of time that it takes you to finish your degree. They also give you more flexibility to take the most interesting courses instead of prerequisites.
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Each school has its own process and requirements for military credit transfers. Generally, students must either be on active duty or honorably discharged to receive transfer credits. Colleges may give you credit for these military experiences:
- Military training
- Military occupation specialties
- Professional certifications that you earned during your service
- Specific military courses
- Other relevant military experience
To transfer military credits, you may be required to submit documents like the following:
- Certificate of eligibility for veterans’ benefits
- GI Bill of Enrollment form
- Joint Services Transcript or Community College of the Air Force transcript
- Military school transcripts
- Non-commissioned officer evaluation reports
- Placement tests like the College-Level Examination Program
- Portfolio explaining how your military experience relates to your chosen college degree
- Separation papers
Many veteran-friendly schools have admissions staff ready to assist you with military transfer credits. You can typically get in touch with the campus veterans’ office to get the process started.
Best Online Colleges for Veterans Admissions Requirements
Most universities require veterans to meet the same admissions criteria as non-veterans. Requirements vary between programs, but many schools ask for some or all of these materials:
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
- Transcripts from previous military and non-military schools
- Personal statement that answers a provided prompt
- Letters of recommendation from supervisors, teachers, or others who know your work
Your chosen college may have a veterans’ office that can help you prepare your admissions materials. Many military-friendly schools waive application fees for veterans.
Colleges and universities can choose to have external organizations review the quality of their educational services in a process known as accreditation.
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The accreditation process sets standard requirements for all educational institutions to receive this credential. Receiving a degree from a regionally accredited school can offer many benefits, including:
- Increased chances of transferring credits to another accredited university
- Eligibility to apply for federal financial aid
- Higher quality of education
- Increased marketability with employers
- Widely recognized degree
- Recognition from other experts in your field
You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to see whether a school has received credible accreditation.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
As a veteran, you may qualify for various types of financial aid. These resources can help reduce the upfront costs of college and may save you money.
- GI Bill. Online GI Bill schools can allow you to use your military education benefits to pay for tuition, textbooks, and other college expenses. The GI Bill may also provide a housing stipend during your studies if you meet the criteria.
- Yellow Ribbon Program. You may also be eligible for other government financial aid programs for veterans. For example, the Yellow Ribbon Program can help veterans pay for expenses not covered by the GI Bill.
- Scholarships. Other programs give scholarships to veterans interested in STEM fields, technology careers, and other professions.
- Federal aid and state aid. You may also qualify for federal and state grants or work study programs that are available to all eligible students. The federal government also offers student loans that can help you finance expenses not covered by other sources.
- Financial aid from your school. You may also qualify for financial aid from your college. Some military-friendly schools offer scholarships specifically for veterans. You could also explore additional scholarship opportunities that are available to all eligible students based on past grades and other criteria.
- Employer programs. Finally, if you work during your studies, your employer may provide professional development funds or scholarships that you can use to help pay for your schooling.
You can visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about financial aid opportunities for veterans as well as for all students.
Is College Free for Military Veterans?
Many military veterans attend college for free or at a low cost. Several factors can determine whether you receive a free college education.
Some states allow veterans to attend college for free with the support of the GI Bill. States that offer this benefit include Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas, among others. It’s necessary to meet certain criteria to qualify for free tuition in these states.
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You may also not need to pay for college if the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program cover all your expenses. You are required to qualify for each of these programs individually.
Do Veterans Get Accepted to College Easier?
Generally, veterans need to meet the same admissions criteria as non-veteran students. Some military-friendly schools may prioritize veterans when making admissions decisions, though.
Your military experience might also give you an edge over many non-veteran students. During your service, you may have developed many valuable abilities and traits, such as:
- Strong work ethic
Many colleges and employers desire students with these skills and may admit them over non-veteran students. In your admissions essay, it can be strategic to discuss ways that your military experience could benefit you in the classroom.
Do Dependents of Veterans Get College Benefits?
The spouse and dependents of a veteran may qualify for educational benefits if they meet specific criteria. The GI Bill provides college benefits for the child or spouse of a veteran who:
- Died in the line of duty after September 11th
- Has been discharged for a total disability caused during their service
- Went missing in action
- Was detained by a foreign government during their military service
If you have dependents, you can also transfer some of your GI Bill benefits to them while on active duty. To learn more about potential college benefits, you can consult with a veteran’s admissions specialist at your chosen college.
What’s the Difference Between the Montgomery GI Bill vs. Post 9/11?
The military offers two college benefits for veterans: the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery Bill. Here are two key differences between these bills.
|Montgomery Bill||Post-9/11 GI Bill|
You are only allowed to use one of these options to help pay for college.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional vs. Veteran Friendly Colleges?
A veteran-friendly college offers several advantages over a traditional college.
|Traditional College||Veteran Friendly College|
Choosing a veteran friendly college that understands your unique needs may help you succeed academically and let you graduate on your schedule.
Is Getting Into an Online School Worth It for Veterans?
Yes, getting into an online school is worth it for many veterans. You can build on your military experience by gaining new knowledge and skills, and earning a college degree may help you secure a position in your preferred field. There’s also a lower unemployment rate for bachelor-degree holders.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for high school graduates is 6.2%, and this rate drops to 3.5% for those with a bachelors. An online program from an accredited school could allow more flexibility as you work toward your college degree. Different programs offer different options, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs and interests.
Best Online Colleges for Veterans
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Bellevue University has a Military Veteran Services Center on its main campus. This center provides personalized help to all military students, including veterans, active duty, and reserve members of the armed forces. Bellevue also offers many online degrees and programs that cater to adult learners.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Charleston Southern University is a military-friendly, Christian college that has been providing services to military students for over 40 years. Any student who is in any way connected with the military may receive individualized support. Charleston Southern has financial assistance and a work-study program available for veterans.
Charleston Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Columbia College has Green Zones on campus, which are designated safe spaces for veterans, and student organizations for those connected with the military. Scholarships and other forms of financial assistance are available to help students cover the costs of their education. Columbia follows the Principles of Excellence for Education Institutions Serving Service Members.
Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The CUNY School of Professional Studies provides hands-on support and financial assistance to veterans and military students. The CUNY SPS US Military Bachelor’s Degree Completion Scholarship helps ensure that veterans can earn degrees without taking on any debt in the process. CUNY SPS is compliant with Executive Order 13607.
CUNY SPS is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
All degree programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University approve enrollment for those that are eligible to receive education benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veteran student services are available at Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses. The services include tutoring, a counseling center, disability support services, and more.
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Fort Hays State University has career services available specifically for military and veteran students. These services include interviewing and resume writing assistance. Fort Hays also has a variety of scholarships and financial aid programs available for veterans. The Fort Hays University Student Veterans Association is open to on-campus and online students.
FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Oregon State University has a Military and Veteran Resource Center on campus that is open every weekday from 9 AM to 4 PM. This center has study areas and tutoring available and a lounge where veterans can connect with other veterans. Services are also available for veteran and military-connected students who are earning their degrees online.
Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
All degree programs at Park University are approved for enrollment by veterans and military students receiving GI benefits. Military students may receive up to 75 transfer credit hours for their military experience. Park University also has a Global Warrior Center where a representative can answer questions about military benefits.
Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Pennsylvania State University has an Office of Veterans Affairs and Services to help veterans transition from being service members to college students. Penn State has 24 campus locations and offers many degrees in a fully online format.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The Citadel has a Veteran Student Support Center on campus and a Student Veteran Association to provide mentorship and a supportive community. Student veterans also have access to financial aid, tutoring, mental health support, and more. The Citadel offers daytime, evening, and online classes.
The Citadel is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Troy University offers a Military and Family Scholarship that may pay up to half of the tuition for those who have served in a branch of the armed forces. Dependents of those who have served in the armed forces may also qualify for this scholarship. Troy allows student veterans to build customized degree programs and may offer transfer credits for their military experience.
Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Arkansas has a Veteran and Military-Affiliated Student Center on campus. The center assists students with all aspects of applying to and enrolling at the University of Arkansas. It also helps with the process of applying for military educational benefits and scholarships. Academic advisors are available as well to provide individualized support.
The U of A is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Florida has an Office of Student Veteran Services that can help veterans with the process of applying for VA Educational Benefits. VA Educational Benefits may be used for any degree program currently offered by UFL. Student veterans may also receive financial assistance through the VA Work-Study Program.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University Illinois—Springfield has a Military and Veterans Lounge and a Military and Veterans Club. These aim to provide a community for students who have served in the armed forces. The office of Military and Veteran Student Services can help guide student veterans through the process of applying for VA Educational Benefits.
UIS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is one of the top-ranked schools for military and veteran students. Its degree programs are online and flexible, and many students can receive transfer credits for their military experience. UMGC also has a dedicated military advising team.
University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Missouri welcomes all military veterans, service members, and their families. There are resources available on campus to help student veterans transition smoothly into an academic environment. These include academic support and mentoring, disability services, and career services. Military veterans may be eligible for tuition assistance as well.
The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Oklahoma has a Veteran Student Service office at each of its three campus locations. OU also has a Student Veterans Association to provide community support, pre-professional networking, and social activities. Military veterans may qualify for scholarships and other forms of financial assistance.
The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Utah State University’s Veterans Resource Office helps guide veteran students through the process of applying for VA Education Benefits. Veteran students may also be able to qualify for VA work study. USU helps veterans academically by providing tutoring services. Veterans may also be able to earn college credit for their military service and training.
Utah State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Washington State University is dedicated to helping all military veterans, service members, and their families achieve their educational goals. Resources are available at five different campus locations and for online students. Military veterans may receive up to 30 transfer credits for their experience and training.
WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
West Texas A&M University has an office of Military and Veteran Services to help veteran students apply for VA Benefits. The university also has its own scholarships, work-study positions, and financial aid programs for veterans. West Texas A&M has numerous online programs that are designed to meet the needs of adult learners.
West Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Bachelors Degree Online
Returning to school after military service may seem daunting, but the right program could help you grow academically, personally, and professionally.
The best online colleges for military veterans provide financial support, resources, and a welcoming atmosphere for service members. Choosing a veteran friendly college could improve your educational experience and help you reach your goals. You can also learn how to translate your military experience into a new career.
If you’re interested in getting an online bachelors degree, you can start your educational journey today by researching accredited, veteran-friendly colleges and universities.