For veterans, attending a university full- or even part-time can be difficult. They may need to work to support themselves or may be unable to commute to school for other reasons. However, the availability of online learning makes it easier for veterans to access the education they need to succeed.
Finding the best online universities for veterans can be challenging. A quick internet search can result in numerous lists and rankings of schools across the country, which can be a bit confusing or overwhelming.
If you’re searching for a military-friendly college, and you want to go beyond the rankings and the best-of lists, here are five factors to help you decide which online university is best for you.
Tuition cost is one of the easiest ways to compare universities. The Department of Education publishes the College Scorecard, allowing prospective students to easily research tuition costs and other data that universities are required to report.
Some schools offer perks to veterans to encourage them to apply, such as veteran scholarships or credit for military training. When considering affordability, keep in mind that online learning has additional benefits for students, such as lower personal expenses for gas, parking, vehicle maintenance and more.
2. Financial Assistance
Another way universities can help veterans navigate their college experience is by connecting them with resources about Tuition Assistance, the GI Bill and more. Government assistance can make it easier for students to obtain a better return on investment for their education, and that’s one of the ways in which a university’s veterans center can help.
For example, GI Bill benefits can help veterans cover some or all the costs of college tuition. In addition, some states offer free tuition for veterans, and others offer free or partial tuition reimbursement if certain conditions are met.
Also, veterans who served for at least 90 days after Sept. 11, 2001, can use their Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits to help cover housing, books and supplies, and various other educational expenses.
Flexibility is another reason why online learning is a good fit for veterans. Working and attending classes online during off-hours is a common strategy for many students; in Online College Students 2020, a study by Wiley Education Services, 76% of respondents who attended college online also were employed full- or part-time.
Flexibility also may be a factor for veterans who feel uncomfortable attending classes in person, as they are often older than traditional college students and have different experiences. Attending classes online also might be more practical for veterans who are disabled or injured in combat. Taking courses online can allow veterans to learn in an environment where they feel most comfortable.
When researching schools, search for flexible learning options that can fit your schedule.
4. Degree Program Options
Some veterans may be unable or unwilling to move across the country to pursue educational opportunities, and online learning can expand available options. However, if you have a specific academic focus in mind, the right school for you may be thousands of miles away.
Before committing to a school, research its available degree programs and ensure that it has faculty with expertise in your chosen field. And if you’re not sure what to study yet, but you know you want a degree, consider common degrees for veterans, such as:
- Criminal justice
- Emergency medical services
- Fire science
- Information security
5. Veteran Student Support
Not all universities provide support and resources designed specifically for military-affiliated students. Plenty of schools may call themselves “military-friendly,” but there can be significant differences in the quality of support offered to veterans.
Attending classes online can be difficult for veterans who haven’t done so before, as they may need to learn to use software and other online tools for the first time. When comparing schools, seek out information about their veterans center and the services they provide. Look for things such as:
- Academic counseling
- Career services
- Financial aid support
- Mental health counseling
- Spouse resources and support
- Student veteran organizations
- Transfer credit support
Keep Up With Your Education Benefits
Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.