Why This Matters

  • THE ARMED FORCES TUITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM WILL PAY UP TO $4,500 A YEAR

    Eligible members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard Marines, National Guard, and most Ready Reserves are eligible for up to $4,500 per year for 100% of tuition expenses, paid directly to the institution.

  • MANY COLLEGES OFFER UP TO 50% OFF TUITION TO VETERANS

    Military-friendly colleges offer veterans discounts on tuition or vouchers to reduce the costs of necessities such as books or housing in recognition of their service. They may also offer college credits for military training and experience.

  • THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR POST 9/11 VETERANS HIT A LOW OF 1.7%

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty since September of 2001 has remained extremely steady over the last few years, hovering at about 3.5 percent consistently.

Our Research

Members of the military, veterans, reservists, and their family members can choose to attend any of the nearly 4,300 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S., but there are some schools that have gone out of their way to offer veteran and military-friendly benefits. The programs that we’ve included on our list include on campus as well as online classes to work towards Associate’s degrees, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees. All are committed to veteran and military members’ success through unique offerings including flexible options for tuition deferment and reactivation, transitional programming for first-year students from the military community, and ways to continue working towards a degree, even if deployed.

All of the military-friendly programs that we review here have earned accreditation from one of the several organizations and agencies recognized as an accrediting agency. Some of these agencies are national, some are regional, and some specialize in a particular area of education such as a specific industry or profession. In all cases, accreditation indicates that an independent appraisal has been done to confirm the quality of the education that an institution provides in relation to established standards.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Military Friendly Colleges program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 69 hours to write this article
  • 151 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 200 education programs we compared

The Top 49 Military-Friendly Colleges

Best Military Friendly Colleges
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Though the education you receive at a military-friendly college or university will be the same high quality as that provided to non-military students, there are certain benefits and advantages that military-friendly programs make available to those who have served, are serving, or who are the qualifying spouse or dependent of an individual who has served. These benefits include the ability to earn college-level credits through exams at no charge (where non-military students pay more than $40 per exam); the ability to earn credits for military experience and training; and the availability of special tuition discounts, scholarships, and grants for military members.

Additionally, colleges that are military friendly will install special personnel and extra-curricular options for military members and veterans including having a chapter of the Student Veterans of America on campus; offering a full-time veteran’s counselor; offering clubs or associations for veterans; and having signed the VA Principles of Excellence.

There are over 1,500 on-campus chapters of Student Veterans of America, an organization that strives to improve outcomes and empower student veterans in higher education through research, service, programs, and advocacy. The group currently represents over 750,000 student veterans, ensuring that they have the resources and support that they need. Attending a school that has a SVA chapter ensures that you have a voice working on your behalf on campus, providing you with the greatest chance for success.

Though many veterans worry about their ability to transition into the workforce after having served, an increasing number of organizations are seeking the experience, knowledge, and leadership skills that veterans possess. By combining your training and talent with the education offered by a military-friendly educational program, you give yourself the greatest possible advantage for career success.

Depending upon your military experience, you may be able to combine your degree from a military-friendly program and work towards a career in healthcare, in government or public administration, in defense contracting, information technology, or any of a number of careers that have proven particularly attractive for those who have served.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching military-friendly colleges:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Every college will have its own unique admissions standards, but military-friendly colleges will have dedicated personnel assigned to help you transition into pursuit of a degree that will lead to successful civilian life. The support staff will help active-duty service members and veterans to navigate program selection, tuition assistance, and other resources. They can also assist with balancing your classroom obligations with active-duty life so that you can meet the challenges of both.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? While some veterans and military members may choose on campus life, others will need the flexibility of an online education. Many of the programs that we’ve reviewed offer online options that can be taken either synchronously or asynchronously to allow for greater flexibility in both your military obligations and in accommodating work and family schedules to which you may be obligated.

Funding your education is always a top concern, and especially for those who have served or are serving in the military. There are several VA educational benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which can be used to fund your educational expenses, and individual institutions may also offer specific discounts for veterans or members of the military and their qualified family members. Military-friendly colleges will have financial services staff that are specifically dedicated to helping those who have served.