As a former or current member of the military, it’s fairly common to seek a college education during or after your enlistment within the military. College degrees help military personnel more easily acclimate to civilian life, as well as lead students down a path of professional development for their future careers. While the desire to earn a degree is fairly common, choosing the best college for veterans and those currently serving is an important part of taking advantage of the many educational benefits those who serve our nation are entitled to. These benefits do not end at financial assistance, by choosing a military-friendly college veterans are more easily able to access support resources and gain a more worthwhile collegiate experience.
In this article, we’ll explore what it takes for a college to be considered “military-friendly”, how to find military-friendly colleges, as well as discuss how to use GI Bill benefits toward a college education. Our goal is to equip eager veterans with the information needed to take advantage of all the opportunities awaiting them at home.
What Are Military Friendly Colleges?
Many colleges and universities might feature veteran services or military-specific tuition, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate that a college is military-friendly. Military-friendly colleges are institutions that boast numerous veterans benefits, with a few major requirements needed to earn them a title of military-friendly. While veterans can certainly get a great education from a non-military-friendly college, there are many benefits of choosing a military-friendly college that gains students access to additional support and resources.
For a college to be military-friendly they need to possess a few different characteristics and resources. While some might first mentally jump to financial benefits, this should only scratch the surface of what’s available at a military-friendly college. Military-friendly colleges will typically possess some or all of these key traits:
- The college has signed the VA Principles of Excellence
- The college hosts a full-time veterans counselor
- Hosts a chapter of the Student Veterans of America
- Features veteran-specific campus groups and associations
- Accepts military experience for college credit
- Features a College Level Examination Program
- Accepts GI Bill educational benefits
Using GI Bill for College – What You Need to Know
It’s a smart idea for any future college student, regardless of service status, to understand and utilize educational programs and benefits that might help them save money on their tuition. The Post 9/11 GI Bill was designed to help current and former servicemen and women to gain access to a credible college education, with many financial benefits available based on eligibility and service status. The nature of a veteran’s package is based on a few different things, so veterans need to begin their college journey by learning what they’re eligible to receive through federal avenues.
Many might be asking at this point, “Well how do I use my GI bill benefits?” A military-friendly college will already have experience working with this type of aid, and at times can even provide additional support through military-specific financial aid options. After hearing back regarding eligibility, reach out to an admissions officer to ensure that these benefits will be accepted by the college of interest.
How to Start Using the GI Bill for College
To apply for GI Bill benefits, begin by visiting the Department of Veteran Affairs website and review the eligibility requirements for GI benefits. These include duration of service, time of service, nature of discharge, and a few other considerations. After determining eligibility, it’s time to gather the necessary documents to apply by filling out the Education Benefits Form. This is one of the quickest ways to apply, but veterans may also apply via mail or in person at a VA regional office.
Military individuals should look at their GI Bill application as an extension of their college applications, and gathering the correct materials is crucial for ensuring benefits are accurately distributed and students are gaining what they should be. Applicants will need to provide their identification, social security number, bank routing numbers to receive benefits, discharge paperwork, relevant transcripts, and paperwork indicating their military status. For students still enlisted, they may need to provide a letter from their supervisor indicating that the future student is still serving and in good standing. Applicants should have all this information collected before the process to keep everything streamlined.
After hearing back regarding benefits, it’s time to choose a college that will accept this form of aid. This can be done by researching military-friendly colleges or by simply contacting the admissions office and asking to speak to someone who handles veterans affairs. Many military-friendly colleges will have a specialist on staff who handles all veteran affairs and can help navigate students toward their next steps. After finding a list of colleges that accept this aid, it’s time to consider which college aligns most with the student’s interests and long-term goals.
How to Find Military Friendly Colleges
While we now understand the many benefits of choosing a military-friendly college, how does a future student find one? It shall begin in the same way any student begins their college journey: with a little research. Besides, just because a college has the qualification to be military-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best college for you. The beginning is easy, simply start reaching out to admission counselors with questions regarding school resources and begin considering what matters most to you as a future graduate. You can also dive into their social media channels and ask current students to gain more insight. Consider questions like:
- How do my career goals interact with earning a degree?
- Does this college have my degree of interest?
- What kind of academic support is available to students?
After asking yourself these foundational questions, it’s time to consider other important elements of choosing a military-friendly college. Many military-friendly colleges will transfer military experience for college credit, so if this is important to you it’s suggested to seek one of these schools. It’s also crucial to ask admission counselors about their flexible learning options, online classes, and financial aid for veterans. These all can play a huge role in not only choosing a reputable military-friendly college but the best college to prepare students for future success after the military.
List of Military Friendly Colleges
Choosing a military-friendly college is a worthwhile decision for any former and current military personnel looking to maximize their benefits and gain a truly enriching college education. Before diving into any college search, it’s recommended to consider all options available to make a decision that aligns best with a veteran’s career goals. For example, many military-friendly online colleges allow veterans to take classes remotely and earn their degrees online. This can be an appealing option for those that want to embrace a flexible class schedule, but also for students who are unsure if pursuing a degree is the right move for them.
Veterans can easily jumpstart their college search by researching military-friendly colleges that accept GI education benefits. Some of the most credible and reputable colleges with proven resources for veterans include:
- University of Florida
- American University
- California State University – Bakersfield
- California State University – Fresno
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Indiana University – Bloomington
- University of San Diego
- University of Connecticut
- John Brown University
- California State University – Sacramento
Bible College Online Helps Veterans Find Military-Friendly Colleges!
Choosing the right college for your career goals is an important element of setting yourself up for success. For those in the military or who have just left the military, understanding the benefits and options available for earning a degree with the support your service to our nation deserves. By understanding what qualifies a college or university as “military-friendly” future students can more accurately make a call on a degree program that reflects their needs.
Are you in the military interested in earning a degree online or in person? Bible College Online has extensive insight into military-friendly colleges, online degree programs, as well as other educational resources designed for current and former military servicemen and women. Find military-friendly colleges with the help of Bible College Online today!