Whether you’ve recently left the military or are still on active duty and thinking about life after service, one option open to you is higher education at one of the many online schools for military in the United States.
Choosing a path to carve out in civilian life can be tricky when you’ve spent a long period in the service. However, there are many reasons to choose higher education at one of the best universities for military as a next step. You will gain in-depth knowledge in a specialist field, making you more employable and increasing your salary potential. You’ll also have access to student services supporting your career preparation and other relevant skills.
As a military or ex-military student, you’ll also have a range of transferable skills you’ve built up throughout your time serving your country. Integrity, discipline, and a hard work ethic are some of the unique traits often found in military and ex-military students. These are characteristics that few students will be able to match in the average student body.
With this life experience, you’ll also be prepared for the expectations placed on you as a student in higher education. The workload can often come as a shock to students who have just graduated from high school. You’ll be ready for it, though!
But how do you choose the best colleges for active duty military? After all, there are nearly 4,000 colleges and universities across the United States. Some are better prepared for and more supportive of students currently serving in the armed forces or who have recently left a career in the service.
Many of these institutions offer support and resources that will be invaluable in helping you adjust back to civilian life and find a career that best utilizes your unique skills. With that in mind, this guide explores the best colleges for military and ex-military students. Below, you’ll find separate lists of the best brick-and-mortar colleges and the best online schools for military.
See also: The Ex-Military Student’s Guide to College
The Best Brick-and-Mortar Military Colleges
Brick-and-mortar colleges are traditional venues through which you earn your degree. You’ll spend time on campus, enjoying life and events among peers and participating in scheduled classes. College campuses like this are nationwide, from Virginia to Alabama to Washington state, each offering a unique student experience.
There are advantages and disadvantages to full-time attendance on campus. On the one hand, you’ll have less room for distractions from your studies. The regimented class schedules might also be an advantage for you.
However, you’ll also pay significantly more tuition and fees to live on campus. Factor in the cost of dorms, meal plans, and other expenses, and going to school on campus can get really expensive.
Nevertheless, below is a list of the best brick-and-mortar colleges for ex-military and active service military students. Learn more about each one, compare and contrast your favorites, and forge a future path at one of the best schools for military!
See Also: Scholarships for Military and Ex-Military Students
1. Georgia Southern University
At Georgia Southern University, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded peers. Roughly eight percent of students at this institution are either currently serving or are veterans. This makes GSU one of the most popular universities for veterans and active-duty members entering full-time education.
More than 3,000 U.S. military-affiliated students enroll at this best university for military students each year, including veterans, active-duty service members, and family members. It’s easy to see why GSU is a popular choice for students like you. The institution has numerous benefits specifically for active military personnel and veterans. This includes fee waivers, special scholarships, and Military Outreach Centers at each campus.
GSU also has a Veterans Upward Bound Program, which provides you with free academic training and development tools to prepare you for pursuing your degree. This includes introductory courses that bridge the gap between high school or GED studies that you might have completed many years ago.
It should come as no surprise, then, that GSU is consistently recognized as one of the best military-friendly schools in the nation.
See Also: Cheap Accredited Online Colleges
2. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is part of a countrywide program known as the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, or the Yellow Ribbon Program for short. The program is a partnership across institutions that waives out-of-state enhanced tuition and fees for veterans and active military students where the cost of tuition is higher than the highest public in-state rate for undergraduates.
So, where you see out-of-state tuition fees that are far higher than their in-state counterparts for the same course, this program could make the cost of getting an education far cheaper.
This university also has the Office of Veteran Success, which helps you with application and enrollment issues. The office also enables you to transition into full-time higher education at the University of South Florida. To date, the OVS has already helped over 2,000 veterans integrate into their new campus life.
The office’s programs connect you with the necessary support and resources you’ll need, including admissions help, financial aid support, and any residency requirements you may have. Additionally, the office provides services like:
- Career prep
- Academic support
- Vocational rehabilitation
Feedback from past graduates on the level of services and support offered by this university has been overwhelmingly positive. As such, you should expect a positive experience when you work with the OVS to enroll at the University of South Florida.
See Also: 30 Accredited Online Colleges For Early Childhood Education
3. Rutgers University
Rutgers University is among the highest-ranking public research universities in the United States. Nearly 70,000 undergraduate and graduate students earn their education at Rutgers each year, drawn to the school by its stellar reputation.
What’s more, the university gets hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants and other sponsorships each year. This makes Rutgers an ideal place to get a military education and access other opportunities.
The university has a dedicated Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services solely for military-affiliated students. The office is the perfect place to socialize and meet other students from similar backgrounds. There is also a specialist office that focuses on admissions and application support. You can get financial advice and support, and office members will help you apply for any military benefits to which you may be entitled.
In case you’re an out-of-state applicant, Rutgers is also a part of the Yellow Ribbon Program partnership. Aside from the official support channels, the university also has The Rutgers Student Veteran Organization. This student advocacy group will help you transition to student life and familiarize yourself with the unique support and resources available to military-affiliated students.
With all of these services, Rutgers certainly deserves recognition as a best college for military students!
4. Wright State University
At Wright State University, a specialist Veteran and Military Center supports your admissions journey and connects you to valuable programs and resources for veterans or active-duty military. The Veterans Voices Project, for example, is an optional program that seeks to promote awareness of military experiences within the community.
The Student Veterans of America association also has a chapter based at Wright State University. This non-profit organization has branches at hundreds of locations across the country. Its purpose is to connect military-affiliated students with important college resources and social opportunities.
When you apply for a program at this university, you may be able to gain credits toward your degree or another program according to your past military training. If successful, you may get reduced tuition rates or additional credits on your final college transcript.
As a student at Wright State, you’ll also be able to access a peer advisor, a dedicated staff member who will support your adjustment to campus life. They’ll connect you with existing military-affiliated students and provide you with personal advice on navigating the challenges you’ll face in full-time education.
All of these benefits are available to a host of military-affiliated students. This includes:
- All U.S. Armed Services veterans
- All active duty, reserve, and National Guard service members
- Army ROTC Cadets who have reached MS3 status
- Air Force ROTC Cadets who have reached AS300 status
- Vocational Rehabilitation students funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Military spouses
- Transfer of entitlement, spouses, widows, and orphans of U.S. service members who are using GI Bill Benefits
5. Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University has been named a prime military-friendly school by many publications. This includes recognition as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs Magazine and a ranking among the Best for Vets by Military Times.
What’s more, a large percentage of Old Dominion’s student body is affiliated with the military in some way – as a veteran, active-duty service member, or a military spouse or family member. Old Dominion University is also part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, reducing out-of-state tuition fees for eligible students. These benefits made ODU an ideal choice for veterans and their family members that want to get an education on campus.
Upon application, ODU might award credits toward your college transcript if you’ve previously taken the CLEP or DSST exams. Past military training and experience can also be used to award credits. The best way to determine eligibility for such benefits and programs is via the VA Certifying Official, a designated person at the university who is your liaison between Old Dominion and the VA regional office.
The Veterans Services Office at Old Dominion is another excellent resource. It was established to provide personalized military support to you as a student veteran or active-duty military service member. The Office provides advice on admissions, military-affiliated programs, and other resources to help you settle in at ODU.
Additionally, the Veterans Service Office has peer advisors who can help guide you as you transition from military life to college life. The Office also has work-study programs, military programs and events, and offers career counseling, among many other amenities.
6. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota was established in 1883, six years before the state of North Dakota was admitted to the Union. In the years since, the university has grown into the largest higher education institution in the state.
Located on a 521-acre campus, the University of North Dakota offers around 100 undergraduate majors, as well as dozens of master’s degrees and doctoral programs. A range of other minors, graduate certificates, and specialist diplomas are also available.
At UND, a fully-trained staff works at the Office of Veteran and Military Services. The VMS staff have undergone training for DOD compliance and can provide specific advice on the financial benefits available to military-affiliated students and their family members.
The VMS staff can support your application through the admissions process and signpost you to the resources and support programs available to veterans through the university. This department also awards limited financial benefits in-house to some applicants, which can help cover tuition fees. Other services include:
- Career services
- Disability services
- TRIO services for underserved students
There’s also a veteran student lounge where you can have a quiet place to study or kick back and relax with other veterans.
7. Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University holds a pretty impressive accolade: it was one of the first universities in the nation to offer college degrees on-site at military installations. So, its history as a veteran and military-friendly school is deeply rooted in U.S. history.
Today, that tradition continues with many benefits and support resources for military-affiliated students. The university offers various undergraduate majors from a broad spectrum of subject specializations. Likewise, SIU offers a graduate prospectus that is no less varied. With hundreds of programs to choose from, SIU offers a world of possibilities to you after your time in the service.
The support offered specifically to military-affiliated student applicants includes one-on-one tutoring, the ability to transfer credits from past military training, and career preparation sessions. In some cases, special accommodations for residency can be made.
Moreover, Southern Illinois offers reduced tuition rates for service members in the form of the Alternate Military tuition rate and the Active Duty tuition rate. The Veterans Services office on campus can help you apply for other forms of financial aid, too, including:
- Illinois Veterans Grant
- VA STM Scholarship
- National Guard Grant
- MIA/POW Scholarship
The university also has services to help you apply for benefits, such as the Montgomery GI Bill. Like many universities on our list, this institution has featured regularly on the Military Times’ Best for Vets lists.
In addition, the university is also regularly named in many active-military publications as being dedicated to serving active duty service members. If you’re still serving but want to prepare for higher education, check out the preparative programs available through SIU.
8. Eastern Kentucky University
Founded in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University regularly features on the Best Colleges for Veterans, according to U.S. News & World Report. Many of EKU’s graduates progress into high-demand fields. These include Homeland Security, law enforcement, and firefighting, each of which strongly utilize past military experiences.
Since EKU is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, you may still qualify to pay in-state tuition fees at a reduced rate if you’re an out-of-state applicant. You may also be able to gain credits based on your past military experience and training, which could reduce your tuition further.
Additionally, the university runs the Veteran Student Emergency Fund, which is a financial support program that awards $500 grants to military-affiliated students. To qualify, you must experience periods of financial hardship.
EKU offers many other services for veterans and military-affiliated students. For example, there are clubs, honor societies, and other organizations specifically for military students. You can take advantage of assistance with admissions, registering for classes, and applying for aid as well.
The EKU Military and Veterans Affairs Office is staffed by various professionals and student employees who will help you get on track with your education, transition to campus life, and succeed after you serve your country.
9. Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University regularly makes the Best for Vets rankings in Military Times as well as U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Colleges for Veterans, and for good reason. There are more than 100 undergraduate majors, minors, and other programs to choose from. Some courses also have professional affiliations.
The Aviation Program, for example, is offered in partnership with the Aerosim Flight Academy. At the graduate level, there are master’s degrees available in subject areas like fine arts, business administration and analytics, education, and teaching English to speakers of other languages. Health, humanities, and the sciences, including engineering, are also available.
Like many of the universities on our list, this institution has a dedicated Veterans and Military Resource Center on campus. Known as the VMRC, this special services unit will assist you with your application as a military-affiliated student.
In addition to admissions support, the center also provides assistance in transitioning into campus life, with academic and skills training, social opportunities, and financial aid. Additionally, there is a heavy emphasis placed on employability and career preparation. For example, the university has a Veteran Career Track program specifically designed to help you prepare for a career that interests you.
10. Austin Peay State University
Named after a former Tennessee governor, Austin Peay State University continues the tradition by naming various departments and buildings on campus after past governors. It’s also the reasoning behind the governor mascot that supports Austin Peay’s athletic teams.
What’s more, the university boasts some fairly unique programs of study, including those in nuclear medicine and aviation science. With dozens of other bachelor’s degrees and master’s programs to choose from, you can find your niche and prepare for your post-military career at Austin Peay.
The university is split into two campuses: one in Clarksville, Tennessee, and the other in Fort Campbell, Kentucky (as well as an online campus). Both physical campuses have a dedicated support center for military-affiliated students known as the Office of Veterans Education Benefits. This office can help you determine the educational benefits to which you’re entitled. The staff can help you apply for these benefits, too.
The office will also help you to identify scholarships for which you’re eligible. These are typically one-time payments that don’t have to be repaid after graduation.
Check out APSU’s website for an admissions checklist showing you what to do to apply. It’s a valuable resource, as it also explains how some of your past exams and military experience might translate into college credits that count toward your degree.
11. University of Utah
The University of Utah provides custom support to military-affiliated students via the Veterans Support Center, a resource funded in part by community donations. VSC services include support for admissions, financial and academic advice, and advance pay. The advance pay benefit helps you cover essential costs such as books or food when funds are low between semesters.
Priority registration is given to all student veterans at this university, meaning you can be among the first in your year to register each semester. There’s a process to make sure you’re eligible, but it’s signposted on the university’s website, along with other helpful advice for veterans.
The VSC offers other benefits to you as a military-affiliated student. For example, the VSC staff can answer questions about declaring a major, adding a minor to your major, and other academic-related questions. They can help you set up a direct deposit for your VA educational funds, fill out necessary financial aid forms, and give you details about tuition waivers for service members.
On a broader scale, the VSC exists to maximize your ability to succeed at the University of Utah. Additionally, the VSC’s support services will help you prepare for a career, remove barriers to your education, and address any psychosocial needs you may have.
See also: The Different Online Learning Modes for Online Degree Programs
The Best Military-Friendly Online Colleges
What do the top 20 military friendly schools have in common? Whether they’re brick-and-mortar schools or online programs, they provide ample support services and opportunities during and after your service. Of course, this list offers nearly 30 options, but who’s counting?!
Online programs are ideal for you to pursue an education while still serving on active duty. On the plus side, the self-paced curriculum that forms the backbone of most online courses is ideal when you’re expected to balance your studies alongside an often unpredictable service schedule. It’s also an excellent way to prepare yourself for the transition into civilian life when your service ends.
And while you’re pursuing a course via distance learning, you’ll still be eligible for the same military-related services and resources offered to on-campus students if you choose the right institution.
But, as a distance learner, you’ll have to be self-motivated and manage your own schedule carefully, so you don’t get behind in your studies. Finding a place to study – at home, on base, and so forth – might also be challenging. After all, you’ll need a quiet area where you can focus and put all your attention on your learning.
The first step to continuing your growth and development is to decide which school is best for you. Below are some good colleges for military that offer excellent online programs.
1. University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
Topping our list of the best online schools for military is the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus.
At USF Sarasota-Manatee, you can pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree taught entirely via distance learning. There are a handful of undergraduate degree options and dozens of graduate programs to choose from. Undergraduate studies focus primarily on criminal justice, information studies, and public health. You can also study in other fields if you’re willing to take a blended course that requires some on-campus attendance.
If you already possess a bachelor’s degree, online graduate courses extend the study options available to you. You might pursue a degree in education, behavioral science, or business.
Another feature that makes this one of the best schools for active duty military is that you’re eligible to have costly out-of-state tuition fees waived by the university. The staff at the university’s Military and Veterans Success Center can help you identify if you’re eligible for the tuition waiver and can also assist you in finding other ways to reduce the cost of your education.
Moreover, the Military and Veterans Success Center participates in the Got Your Six Veterans Success Network program. This program helps you be successful by teaching faculty and staff about your military experience. The program also sheds light on what faculty and staff can do to support you and other military-affiliated students better.
2. University of Florida Online
The University of Florida has a vast array of fully online courses to choose from. With hundreds of courses available and dozens of majors and minors, you can set a path to get the specific education you need to achieve your goals.
There are also undergraduate certificates, master’s programs, doctorates, and professional development courses available entirely online. This means you can easily continue your online education after your undergraduate degree if you desire.
Online students’ tuition is about $129 per credit hour if you’re a Florida Resident. The rate jumps to about $553 per credit hour for out-of-state students. However, veterans and active-duty military are eligible for an out-of-state fee waiver. Other benefits, like tuition assistance, college credit for military training, and the Free Seat Program, are also available.
One great system that forms part of the University of Florida Online’s environment is the 24/7 UF Online Student Plaza. This system lets remote learners meet one another through a virtual platform so you can still experience the social elements of university life.
Additionally, if you live within Gainesville, where the university is based, then you can choose to pay student fees to have access to all of the on-campus events, resources, and facilities, the same as any residential student.
Of course, the university’s Office of Student Veteran Services can provide additional support as needed. The staff can help you activate your benefits, fill out forms, and determine your Yellow Ribbon eligibility, among other important tasks.
3. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida has hundreds of degree programs, with nearly 30 bachelor’s degrees taught online. These programs include subjects like psychology, legal studies, and hospitality. Other options include nursing, history, and English.
For graduate students, there are more than 40 master’s programs and five doctorate programs taught solely online. If you’re willing to travel to the campus and have the time in your schedule to allow it, hybrid programs combine classroom-based teaching with remote study. Graduate programs include:
- Educational Leadership
- Forensic Science
- Nonprofit Management
- Criminal Justice
For military veterans, there’s also help to locate and access financial aid and academic support resources via the institution’s Office of Military and Veteran Student Success. The office provides a VA welcome guide, a resource guide, and various student accessibility services to help you start your educational journey.
Central Florida also offers the Soldiers to Scholars opportunity. If you volunteer to work with inner-city youth for 7-10 hours per week, your tuition and fees will be paid in full.
Tuition at UCF is highly affordable. In-state and out-of-state students pay around $105 per credit for tuition. However, out-of-state students must pay a non-resident fee of $511.06 per credit. With fees factored in, you’ll pay $179.19 for in-state tuition and fees and $715.80 in tuition and fees if you live outside Florida.
4. Florida International University
Next on our list of the best online military colleges is Florida International University. FIU has two campuses and a number of specialist centers, including several in China. It’s also a member of Conference USA, an intercollegiate athletics conference with hundreds of student-athletes participating in 14 different sports.
For online students, FIU has one of the broadest selections of degrees available in the state. There are more than 50 online undergraduate programs and almost the same number of online graduate degree programs.
Degrees for undergraduates include those in computer engineering and international studies, whereas graduates can focus on IT, healthcare administration, hospitality, education, and career preparation, among others.
FIU’s Veteran and Military Affairs office is available to assist you with every aspect of your education. You can get assistance with admissions and enrollment, community resources, and get help finding financial aid to pay for your schooling.
Additionally, FIU’s Veteran Success on Campus program, which is the on-campus face of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is available for further support as you pursue your educational goals.
As with most universities, FIU has different tuition and fee rates for in-state and out-of-state students. These costs vary depending on the type of degree program as well. You can estimate your cost of education at FIU by using their online tuition estimator.
5. University of South Florida-Main Campus
Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida is in Tampa Bay and is a leading research institution. Its combined campuses serve over 50,000 students with undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level studies.
As an online student, you’ll have a choice from more than half a dozen online bachelor’s degrees. Undergraduate programs include:
- Public Health
- Criminal Justice
- Environmental Policy
- Information Studies
- Public Administration
- Urban Studies
There are dozens of graduate and doctoral degrees available online, too. You can get a degree in Cybersecurity, Gerontology, or Supply Chain Management, to name a few.
USF’s Office of Veteran Success offers a wide range of programs to help you get acquainted with the university and its academic offerings. You can schedule an appointment to get help enrolling at USF and completing the necessary paperwork to get your GI Bill benefits.
The Office of Veteran Success also has a robust career services department, which offers career training and employer recruitment sessions. These programs enable you to have a smooth transition from being a student to being a civilian worker.
For out-of-state applicants, tuition and fees are about $575 per credit hour. In-state students will pay around $211 per credit hour.
6. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
North Carolina State University at Raleigh has the largest study body of any higher education institution in the state. Its flexible online programs use the same real-world, problem-solving study methods featured in the coursework for on-campus students. As such, the school ranks highly among North Carolina universities for the value of education.
Undergraduate programs focus on agriculture, leadership, and engineering. There are more than 50 graduate degrees available, too. You can get an online graduate degree in accounting, education, chemistry, and many others.
NC State’s Jeffrey Wright Military and Veterans Services office is here to help you get the education you want and deserve. The office has programs ranging from professional development to work studies to an honor society for high-achieving veteran and military-affiliated students.
A Student Veterans Association also provides networking opportunities, social opportunities, and other support services for you while enrolled as a student.
Tuition for in-state students is $272.29 per credit. Out-of-state students pay $1,178.17 per credit. But if you’re an active-duty military student, you may qualify for in-state tuition under the LPS Program, even if you’re not based in North Carolina. In addition, there is no entrance exam, and you could transfer some military experience into credits toward your degree.
7. Florida State University
[email protected] – the online program at Florida State University – offers a choice of six fully online bachelor’s degree programs. As an undergraduate, you can study:
- Computer Science (BA and BS options are available)
- Financial Planning
- Interdisciplinary social science
- Public safety and Security
If you’re ready to get a graduate degree, you can choose from 25 master’s degree programs, four doctoral programs, and a host of online specialist degrees, too.
The Office of Distance Learning supports your remote learning experience, connecting you to important resources at the university. For example, you’ll have access to essential learning technology like Canvas, the university’s learning management system.
Even as a distance learner, you’ll also have access to key resources like the Career Center, which provides virtual advisory sessions on career preparation, mock interviews, and other essential career programs. There’s also a Counseling Center, Distance Library Services, and financial aid support.
FSU’s Student Veterans Center is your go-to resource for educational benefits, academic support, and off-campus resources. You’ll find information about scholarships, contact information for various veterans services, and you can take a veterans success course to prepare you for college-level studies, too.
In-state students pay $180.49 per credit for online coursework. Out-of-state students pay $686.04. As a veteran or active-duty military student, you may be able to qualify for out-of-state tuition fee waivers to reduce the cost of attending FSU online from out of state.
8. Texas Tech University
Online learning at Texas Tech is delivered collectively by schools in the Texas Tech University System. These schools include:
- Texas Tech University
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
- Angelo State University
- Regional Sites in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Fredericksburg, Highland Lakes, Junction, Permian Basin, and San Angelo
You can pursue one of nearly two dozen online undergraduate programs at one of these institutions. Undergraduate options include architecture, education, and renewable energy. Master’s programs are also available in various subject specializations, including agribusiness, communication studies, and performing arts.
Texas Tech provides financial aid resources and support to military students via one of its specialized programs. The institution clearly signposts support for students nearing the end of their military service and entering into full-time higher education. By utilizing Tech’s military-focused support programs, you will know how the process of enrolling works and have access to all the financial aid information you need to get your benefits.
Tuition for in-state online undergraduate learners is $50 per credit hour. As a non-resident student, you’ll pay $458 per credit per year. So, not only is Texas Tech one of the best military online schools, but it’s also an affordable option!
9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a growing selection of online programs for distance learners. None of these are bachelor’s degrees. However, the collection of graduate and doctoral programs makes UNC Online a worthy option. UNC-Chapel Hill also offers individual undergraduate courses online as well as certificates, boot camps, and opportunities for professional education.
Master’s degree programs run the gamut from business to journalism to library science. Doctoral options include allied health, public health, and nursing.
No matter your program of study, the Carolina Veterans Resource Center is your go-to place for assistance. The center offers areas to study and hang out, academic workshops, and career assistance. The center hosts wellness events and social gatherings throughout the year as well.
Of course, the center is also your resource for information about financial aid, housing assistance, and other benefits due to you because of your service to our country.
Tuition and fees depend on your residency status, level of studies, and the specific program of studies. You can use UNC-Chapel Hill’s online tuition estimator to see what you might pay for your education.
10. Arizona State University-Skysong
Arizona State University consistently ranks highly for innovation, an accolade that should appeal to any distance learner relying on remote-learning software. The institution has also ranked second among all U.S. online graduate programs and boasts that 87% of all graduates receive job offers within 90 days of graduation.
In total, ASU offers hundreds of online degree programs, of which nearly 150 are for undergraduate students. While too numerous to list all subject areas here, you can study programs in business, healthcare, education, and engineering.
For graduate students, there are more than 120 programs available, including master’s degrees and certificates in subject areas like cybersecurity, early childhood education, and emergency management.
The Pat Tillman Veterans Center offers active-duty military students and veterans like you a host of programs and services to help you make the most of your education. You can get information about veterans’ benefits, participate in events for military students, meet other veterans, and support one another. You can inquire about military tuition assistance, ask questions about the GI Bill, and generally find the support you need to move forward from your military service.
More than 7,200 active-duty military or ex-military students are enrolled annually, both online and on campus, and all have access to unique internships and research opportunities via the university. Tuition fees at ASU are $561-$661 per credit hour for undergraduate studies. Master’s degrees are anywhere from $543-$1,343 per credit.
11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The distance-learning program at this institution, known as Illinois Online, is taught by the same faculty as those who lead courses on campus. For undergraduates, there are just three degrees available entirely online:
- Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability
- Early Childhood Professional Education
- Social Work
However, the College of Education for graduate-level study has been ranked as one of the top ten national graduate education programs by U.S. News & World Report. If you’re pursuing graduate studies, the College of Education isn’t your only option. There are nearly 50 online graduate degrees in fields like management, natural resources, and engineering.
As a veteran student, you can tap into the services offered by the Chez Veterans Center to help make your transition into student life easier. The center is in the heart of the Illinois campus and features a host of technologies to accommodate a range of abilities. There’s a lounge area where you can study and hang out, life skills classes, and peer mentorship opportunities as well.
Additionally, the Chez Veterans Center offers mental health counseling, wellness initiatives, and other health-related programs. The center also leads the Camp Mackall Veteran Mentoring Network. This innovative program focuses on career development and helping you find opportunities for mentorship and networking with professionals in your field of study.
As a veteran studying at Illinois, you qualify for in-state tuition costs thanks to the Yellow Ribbon Program. You could even receive free tuition if your family income meets specific guidelines. This is an incredible opportunity for low-income veterans or active-duty military service members.
Otherwise, tuition and fees for classes through Illinois Online vary widely. Using Illinois’ tuition estimation tool, you can estimate what you might pay.
12. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
As an undergraduate student at Oklahoma State University, you can choose from more than a dozen fully online bachelor’s degrees. You’ll find flexible majors that allow you to best meet your career aspirations. Subject areas include:
- Early Childhood Education and Development
- Computer Science
The online offerings for graduate-level study are much larger. There are more than 70 online graduate programs to choose from. Master’s and doctoral programs include education, business administration, and agricultural studies. Other options include engineering, forensic sciences, and family services. Dietetics, nonprofit management, and digital design are further options.
You can access OSU’s Office of Student Veteran Success as an active-duty service member or ex-military student. Ambassadors from this office – most of whom are ex-military members – will help guide you to valuable resources and support that will help you maximize your education.
You’ll have contact with these ambassadors via email, in addition to having access to other resources like success coaching, library services, and free tutoring. General veterans services, like assistance with admissions, enrollment, and financial aid, are also available.
Another feature that makes Oklahoma State one of the best online colleges for military is the low cost. In-state undergraduate tuition is $180.55 per credit, while out-of-state tuition is $697.90 per credit. However, active-duty military or military veterans qualify for in-state tuition for some programs, even if you live out of state.
13. University of North Florida
The University of North Florida offers many distance-learning courses each semester. Additionally, UNF offers several online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
As an undergraduate, you can choose from programs in nursing, sports management, and health administration. As a graduate student, there’s even more choices, including:
- American Sign Language
- Health and Wellness
- Public Service
- Business and Management
Additionally, UNF is home to the Military and Veterans Resource Center. Established in 2009, the center is the main point of contact for active-duty military and veterans studying at UNF. This center has programs to support your transition to civilian and student life, providing referrals, guidance, and coaching. Staff also provides insights on how to get financial support.
The Military and Veterans Resource Center is also your link to other services on campus. For example, you can use the center to access services like the Counseling Center, the Disability Resource Center, and career preparation services.
Tuition at UNF varies widely. Undergraduate rates are as low as $175.35 per credit for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay as little as $655.48. Graduate tuition rates are $493.53 for Florida residents and $1,044.27 for non-residents.
14. University of Alaska Southeast
The University of Alaska Southeast offers dozens of programs online. This includes associate’s degrees, bachelor’s and master’s programs, and various certificate options. As an undergrad, you can choose among many programs, including:
- Elementary Education
- Social Science
- Liberal Arts
- Business Administration
There is also a handful of master’s degrees in subjects like teaching, reading, and public administration.
Aside from degrees, you can study one of the numerous certificate programs, occupational endorsement certificates, and graduate certificates. What’s more, the credit transfer policy at this institution is particularly generous, allowing you to jumpstart your program if you have previously completed college credits.
Veterans at the University of Alaska Southeast receive specialist support from the Office of Veteran Services. The knowledgeable staff will answer questions about enrolling at UAS, educational benefits, and community-based services for military-affiliated students. This includes access to counseling services, accommodations for disabilities, and academic support via the university’s learning center.
Tuition rates at UAS vary widely depending on your course of study, residency status, and whether your courses are lower-division or upper-division (among other factors). More details are available on UAS’ tuition and fees page.
15. Florida Atlantic University
Rounding out this ranking of the top online colleges for military is Florida Atlantic University. FAU offers more than half a dozen undergraduate programs, all of which are taught fully online. Around 20 graduate-level programs are available online as well.
The undergraduate programs available to you include:
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- Criminal Justice
- Public Management
- Computer Science
Graduate studies at FAU include options in the business, science, and education fields, among many others.
When you apply to FAU, the admissions office will review any military training you’ve had and determine whether some of that training can be used as college credits toward your chosen degree program. This could result in less tuition to pay for the overall cost of your college education.
Based at Florida Atlantic University is the Military and Veterans Student Success Center, which provides programs and activities that are designed to enhance your success as a military or ex-military student. The center also helps you to connect to students like you who come from similar backgrounds and promotes engagement between yourselves and the community.
When it comes to tuition, in-state students pay just $203.29 per credit hour for undergraduate studies, making this one of the most affordable universities on our list. However, out-of-state learners pay $721.84 per credit hour, which is around the mid-range for out-of-state tuition among the colleges we’ve identified here.
Financial Aid Information for Veterans and Active Duty Service Members
Federal Student Aid for Veterans and Military
Whether you’re applying for college as a veteran or active duty military member, the process is essentially the same as for all other students. The difference between these two types of students is essentially down to the program you choose. Your financial aid needs to fit into your timetable, and you should ensure you have time to commit to your studies regularly.
The application begins with the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regardless of your financial position, you should ensure you complete the FAFSA each year you’re in higher education.
When you apply, you’re considered for the various forms of federal student aid available (such as the Pell Grant, FSEOG, and student loans). Additionally, institutions across the United States use the information you provide to determine your eligibility for a whole range of other benefits. This includes tuition assistance programs and tuition discounts to use at a public university.
Some of these benefits are provided by the colleges and universities themselves. This includes scholarships, which don’t have to be repaid after graduation. What’s more, if you do receive funding and don’t submit a FAFSA each year, you could lose that funding in subsequent years.
Furthermore, scholarships are usually one-time payments. However, sometimes they are renewable every year. Either way, scholarships can be a game-changer by significantly reducing the student debt you accrue during your higher education.
However, every scholarship has eligibility requirements, which vary widely from one award to the next. While we won’t go into full detail on these here, we have another article that looks in-depth at the financial benefits, grants, and scholarships available to military and ex-military students here.
See also: Online Degrees vs Traditional Degrees: Do Employers Really See Them Equally?
Other Funding for Veterans and Military
As a veteran or active-duty military student, you have a range of scholarships and other benefits available to you. While there are many potential scholarships and other awards, one key benefit you should apply for is the GI Bill.
The GI Bill is an umbrella term for numerous financial awards offered by the U.S. Government through the Department of Veterans Affairs. When you see colleges and universities with dedicated support services that help you to apply for financial aid, this is one of the key benefits they’ll discuss with you.
Since 1944, the GI Bill has been helping military-affiliated students afford a college education and integrate back into the civilian workforce. There are several GI Bills, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under this bill, you could be eligible for benefits provided you’ve served more than 90 days of active duty since September 10, 2001.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit is broken down into different awards, and the amount you’ll receive depends on your service history and personal circumstances. For example, the Post-9/11 GI Bill offers:
- Monthly Living Stipend – This portion of the benefit is awarded monthly to cover housing, based on the Basic Allowance for Housing. The amount paid is variable and based on the ZIP code of your institution, not the ZIP code of your home residence.
- Book and Supply Stipend – This is an annual financial award of up to $1,000. Paid at the beginning of each semester, you may be eligible to receive a portion of this award based on the number of credit hours that make up your studies.
- One-Time Relocation Allowance – This benefit will not apply to all applicants, as it’s based on your personal circumstances and location. Up to $500 may be paid if you’re living in a county with six citizens or fewer per square mile and planning to relocate at least 500 miles to your college or university.
Another thing to remember when it comes to GI Bill benefits is that any payments awarded to you depend on your service history. This means they could be entirely different from one applicant to the next.
The amount you may receive can be heavily influenced by the number of creditable active-duty service weeks that you’ve collected since September 10, 2001. Based on this number, you’ll be awarded a percentage of the full award, as follows:
- At least 36 months: 100%
- At least 30 days, but discharged due to disability resulting from service: 100%
- Between 30-35 months: 90%
- Between 24-29 months: 80%
- Between 18-23 months: 70%
- Between 6-17 months: 60%
- Between 90 days and 5 months: 50%
The benefits you receive with other GI Bills (e.g., the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, the Montgomery GI Bill Select Reserve) vary widely. Follow these links to check with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more specific information.