Military Friendly Colleges
Confused by all of the “military friendly colleges” lists out there? Us, too! They all use slightly different methodologies with, in some cases, wildly different results. So we’ve gone ahead, compiled the lists and analyzed them here to help make sense of it all. The result is Military Friendly Colleges: The Definitive List.
To be fair, we didn’t create an actual list. Instead, we took the existing ranking from various websites and analyzed them to provide to you the schools that appeared most frequently on multiple lists of military friendly colleges.
Defining a “Military Friendly College”?
Every college and university wants to appear inclusive and accommodating. That’s how they attract students, even Veteran students.
You’ve likely seen catch phrases like “military friendly” or “veteran friendly” featured prominently on websites for any number of universities. But what does “military friendly” school mean, exactly?
College Recon has tackled this “Military Friendly College” question by reviewing similarities between institutions that stake this claim. Our data was compiled using reviews given by former students, and it also contained information presented by the colleges themselves.
What is a “Military Friendly College”?
Our definition of a “Military Friendly College” holds that the School:
- Is a Yellow Ribbon School, or a state school.
- Has a veteran student organization or association to provide support and assistance
- Offers flexible and affordable accommodations for military and veteran students (one example would be accepting credits earned through military service)
- Has a dedicated military and veteran counselor
- Has dedicated military and veteran facilities
Use College Recon’s Search Tool to find this and other information about colleges and universities.
Determining Your Career Path and Education Goals
Choosing the right school is a difficult task. On one hand, you worry about which schools you can get into, and which one’s have the program you want to study. On the other hand, you worry about whether or not you can afford the program.
Before beginning any journey, you should know where you want to go. The same is true for Careers and Education.
We recently published an article on How to Determine Your Career and Education Goals, which guides you to answer some tough questions. For example:
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- Do you like the job you’re doing now?
- Do you have a dream job in mind?
- What do you most like to do?
For that last question, there are resources available to help you figure out what you like doing. Some of our recommended tools are:
Once you figure out what it is you want to do for a career, the next step is figuring out what you need to be successful in that career.
- Do you need a degree?
- Or a Certification?
- Or a Licensure?
Answering those questions will inevitably lead to searching for and choosing the best program for your future goals.
Choosing a School
Once you know where you want to go, and you’ve determined which educational stepping stones you’ll need to get there, it’s time to choose a school.
First, setting SMART education goals will help you stay on course.
Next, determine what challenges you may face while in school, like your current employment, child care, and how long it might take you to finish the program.
Check out College Recon’s 10 Step Guide to Going Back to College to help identify areas you need to consider.
Are you going full-time or part-time? In-person or online only?
These are all important considerations when choosing where to spend the next few years achieving your education goals.
Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, but getting most information up front will ease the decision-making process.
You can find and compare online schools in the College Recon School Search tool.
Military Friendly Colleges Covered by Military Tuition Assistance
There are great programs out there to help service members and Veterans achieve their education goals. By far, the GI Bill is the most well known.
Tuition Assistance (TA) is also a tremendous benefit to those still serving. This program can cover up to 100% of the cost-per-credit hour for your education. Finding schools that are military Tuition Assistance friendly is not hard to do.
Best Online Schools for Military Tuition Assistance
College Recon compiled a list of our selections for the Top 8 Online Schools for Military Tuition Assistance. This is a great starting point for learning about Tuition Assistance and researching some schools that may interest you.
These schools were selected for criterion important to service members and Veteran students:
- Principles of Excellence
- Graduation Rates
- Job Placement
- Program Availability
You should also check out our article covering Military Friendly Colleges Covered by Military Tuition Assistance, which explains TA in more depth. It also provides the following school lists:
- Schools Fully Covered by Tuition Assistance
- Online Colleges Accepting Tuition Assistance
- Best Online Schools for TA
Yellow Ribbon Schools
The Yellow Ribbon Program is another program that sounds familiar, but not every military or veteran student knows exactly what it does for them.
What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?
The Yellow Ribbon Program is designed to cover some or all of the costs above which the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover. The GI Bill only covers tuition up to a certain amount, which leaves students at some schools responsible for the rest.
The Yellow Ribbon program helps those students cover more of the costs associated with their education by making their GI Bill go further.
What are Yellow Ribbon Schools?
Yellow Ribbon Schools are those that willingly participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. They make additional funds available for veteran students to help cover charges above the GI Bill’s limits.
Schools can cover up to 50% of the tuition expenses that exceed the annual cap. Then the VA agrees to match the same amount contributed by the school. In many cases, this covers 100% of a Veteran’s tuition.
Not sure which schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon program? Don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of Yellow Ribbon Schools at College Recon!
You can also use our College Recon Search Tool and select “Yellow Ribbon” as one of your search filters.
College Credit for Military Experience
Based on your career field in the military, the length of your service, and any leadership training you received, you may be eligible to transfer your skills over to some institutions for college credit.
College Credit for Military Experience and Training
There are nearly 1,700 colleges and universities that allow students to translate military experience into college credit.
This is possible due to a partnership between the American College of Education (ACE) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Each organization reviews military training and recommends appropriate credit for its member schools.
This benefits the Veteran student in the following ways:
- Fewer course requirements
- Decreased tuition costs
- More college credits on your transcript
First Steps to Transfer Credits
In order to receive credit for military experience, you will need to provide the school with a copy of your Joint Services Transcript. This document will contain, at a minimum:
- Your military course completions
- Military occupations
- College-level test scores
- Other pertinent learning experiences
After you receive your transcripts, review them for accuracy. Ensure that none of your training is missing, especially those NCO and Officer schools.
Once you’ve verified your record and that it’s complete, conduct your search for “Military Friendly Schools”. These institutions usually have someone trained to review the Joint Service Transcripts (JST) to maximize your transfer credits.
As a note, just because something is listed on your JST does not mean the school is required to accept it as credit. Not all schools have the same programs, which means that not all schools can accept every credit available in the universe of higher education.
List of Military Friendly Colleges
So, we’ve defined what we interpret as a Military Friendly College, and we’ve covered which schools we find to be the best for Tuition Assistance. Now, you may be wondering which schools are the best military friendly schools in general. In compiling our list of military friendly colleges, we looked at the most shared criteria among the different lists. Now that we have a sense of what a military friendly college is, here’s an analysis of the different lists.
Multiple Top 10 Finishers for Military Friendly Schools
These schools were only three that finished in the Top 10 of more than one Military Friendly Colleges list.
*Note: number of appearances indicated by number in parentheses.
Schools Appearing More Than Once on Full Lists
These schools finished in the Top 50 of more than one Military Friendly Colleges list.
4 Appearances in Top 50
Eastern Kentucky University (4)
Lewis University (4)
Northern Arizona University (4)
Old Dominion University (4)
Texas A&M – College Station (4)
University of Nebraska at Omaha (4)
University of South Florida (4)
3 Appearances in Top 50
California State University, San Bernardino (3)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (3)
Ohio State University – Main Campus (3)
Quinnipiac University (3)
Regent University (3)
Saint Leo University (3)
Syracuse University (3)
University of Southern California (USC) (3)
Western Kentucky University (3)
2 Appearances in Top 50
Arizona State University (2)
Armstrong State University (2)
Central Georgia Technical College (2)
Colorado State University Global Campus (2)
Fayetteville Technical Community College (2)
Florida State University (2)
Liberty University (2)
Mississippi State University (2)
National University (2)
Northern Michigan University (2)
Penn State – Greater Allegheny (2)
Rutgers University – Camden (2)
South Dakota State University (2)
Texas Tech University (2)
University of Dubuque (2)
University of Florida (2)
University of Kentucky (2)
University of Maryland – University College (2)
University of Michigan (2)
University of Nebraska – Lincoln (2)
University of Northwestern Ohio (2)
University of West Florida (2)
Here are the different lists that we evaluated from each of the different organizations.
Military Times – Best For Vets
University of South Florida
Armstrong State University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The University of Kansas
Colorado State University
The University of Nebraska at Omaha
Georgia State University
University of Central Oklahoma
US News and World Report
University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)
University of Southern California (USC)
University of Virginia
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
New York University (NYU)
University of Florida
North Carolina State – Raleigh
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of Southern California (USC)
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Missouri University of Science and Technology
George Washington University
Penn State World Campus
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Utah State University
Hawaii Pacific University
University of Massachusetts – Lowell
University of Maryland University College
Arizona State University
Southern New Hampshire University Online
Old Dominion University
University of Southern California (USC)
Ohio State University-Main Campus
University of Arizona
University of South Florida – Main Campus
George Mason University
MilitaryFriendly – GI Jobs
Large community college
Front Range Community College
Leeward Community College
Fayetteville Technical Community College
Cuyahoga Community College
Central Georgia Technical College
Small community college
Tarrant County College (Trinity River Campus)
CUNY Hostos Community College
Savannah Technical College
Mercer County Community College
SUNY Ulster County Community College
Lyndon State College
Penn State Greater Allegheny
Penn State Mont Alto
Northern Michigan University
Private not offering Doctorate
The College of Saint Rose
Life Support Training Institute
University of Northwestern Ohio
Best Military Friendly Online Schools
These days, and especially since the pandemic started, online learning has become more mainstream than ever before.
There are pros and cons to each side of the Traditional vs. Online learning environments, so choosing a school and its format are important considerations.
When it comes to online learning, some of the advantages many students appreciate are:
- Setting Own Schedule
- More Degree Options
- Self-Paced Learning
- Accelerated Degree Options
The following is a list of schools who 1) accept the GI Bill, 2) are Yellow Ribbon Schools, and 3) accept Tuition Assistance funding:
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Norwich University
- University of Louisville
- Kansas State University
- University of Cincinnati
- Colorado Christian University
- Post University
- Colorado State University Global
- Arizona State University
- Liberty University
- Indiana University – Bloomington
- Southern New Hampshire University Online
(Please note, some of the schools listed above may have paid College Recon for promotional consideration)
For more information regarding online schools, check out College Recon’s list of the Best Online Colleges for Military students.
How to Become a Military Veteran Friendly School
Universities across the country have noticed a steady increase in military student enrollment over the past decade. More and more Veterans are furthering their education, and in numbers never seen before.
While there are for-profit schools that see military students as guaranteed paydays, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) closely monitors and periodically audits institutes of higher learning.
If you are a School Certifying Official (SCO), and you are looking for ways to improve your school’s appeal to the VA and Veterans, read How to Become a Military Veteran Friendly School. This guide points you to all the resources offered by the VA for institutes of higher education.
For those School Certifying Officials (SCOs), the VA publishes resources to administer to students using VA benefits to pay for college. Some of these resources are:
Some other key SCO resources provided by the VA are:
- SCO Handbook
- Public WEAMS
- A list of Education Liaison Representatives (ELR), by state
- COVID-19 FAQs for SCOs
- VRRAP for Schools
The Need for FAQs
No matter how long an article, or how dense the information, there will always be questions left unanswered. The reason is that no two students are the same, even if they attend the same school.
Whenever possible, College Recon collects or presents FAQs that address specific topics related to your education benefits and colleges in general. Some of these include:
If you have questions about anything GI Bill or VA related, the best place to start is at the source.
AskVA replaces IRIS
On October 18, 2021, the VA will roll out it’s new AskVA portal, which is a place for Veterans to submit questions, concerns and recommendations to the VA. This new system will replace the outdated Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS).
You will not have to sign in to use AskVA, but for GI Bill inquiries you will have to sign in with something that verifies your identity, like:
Call the VA
If you would rather speak to a person directly, there are numbers to call based on your need:
- GI Bill Hotline: 888.442.4551 (M-F, 0800-1900 ET)
- VA Benefits Hotline: 800.827.1000 (M-F, 0800-2100 ET)
- MyVA411 main information line: 800.698.2411 (24/7)
- Students outside the US: 1.918.781.5678
More Resources on Military Friendly Colleges
So far we’ve covered a lot of information related to Military Friendly Colleges. The following links will allow you to dive deeper into specific topics.
- Military Friendly Colleges Covered by Military Tuition Assistance
- List of Best Military Friendly Colleges
- Are “Best Value” Schools Also Military Friendly?
- Best Online Colleges for Military Spouses
- Best Online Schools for Military Tuition Assistance
- Top Schools for Utilizing Military Tuition Assistance Benefits
Also, don’t forget to check out the College Recon School Finder to narrow your search based on criterion specific to you.
Military Veteran Friendly Education
If you are currently in the military or a veteran, there are so many resources available to you. Your education benefits are one of the most coveted in these days of massive student debt.
To make the most of your education, determine what you want to do, the program necessary to make it happen, and then the schools that offer those programs.
Look for schools that accept Tuition Assistance and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Because of your sacrifices, you deserve the best future an education can buy. While we can’t do your homework for you, we will always offer the most up-to-date and relevant information we can get.
The choice is yours. What are you going to study?
(Image courtesy of United States Navy at navy.mil)