A college degree can open the door to many careers and has the potential to dramatically increase an individual’s salary. Accordingly, many veterans, Active Duty personnel and Reserve members complete degree programs to increase their chances of being promoted and advancing in career paths both within and outside of the military.
You yourself may have considered going back to school either while in the service or as a veteran, and you’ve probably even come across the many lists of “military friendly” colleges when you’ve searched for prospective schools online. Unfortunately, some of those lists you’ve come across may be more focused on profit than with providing you with reliable, accurate information.
Many for-profit colleges have targeted veterans and military personnel with false or over-exaggerated claims of offering “military friendly” degree programs and courses. The sad truth is that many of these colleges don’t offer many “military friendly” benefits at all, and some of these schools don’t even have accredited degree programs which have been reviewed and accepted by trusted academic associations.
Veterans and military personnel who complete degrees at fly-by-night schools spend a great of time and money on pursuing degrees that are virtually worthless which will do little to help them progress in their careers. Not all for-profit schools are bad, but some do go out of their way to take advantage military personnel, veterans, and their dependents by offering them false incentives and mediocre academic programs.
Despite this, there are still some colleges out there that are extremely military friendly, but these often won’t be found on the military friendly lists that are heavily promoted around the internet. Finding a true and genuine military friendly school is possible, but it’s not easy, as false advertisements can easily lead prospective students in the wrong direction.
To find a genuine military friendly college for yourself, we recommend taking the following considerations into account:
Any school can claim to be military friendly, so it is up to you to investigate their claims. Look beyond a school’s promotional copy and explore what military benefits are actually available. How do their incentives compare to other schools? What are military alumni doing now? What is the school’s overall reputation? These are all questions that you will absolutely want to consider and fully investigate.
Don’t let a school’s fancy website fool you! Look beyond their salesman’s tactics and seek the truth when evaluating the schools you’re interested in attending. Read reviews from current students and alumni, and try to contact them via LinkedIn or other networking websites to get a better idea for how military friendly the schools actually are.
In order to get the most out of your education, it is absolutely essential that you choose a school which offers financial assistance options specifically dedicated to military personnel. Ideally, the school you choose should accept tuition assistance benefits, Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, and be a Yellow Ribbon Program participating school. The more military-focused financial aid the school supports, the less you’ll have to pay for out of pocket costs.
Truly military friendly schools also provide other benefits, like discounted tuition rates for military students, scholarships or grants for military personnel and their families, tuition guarantees, waived applications fees and other perks only accessible to military students. As you’re evaluating schools, make sure to ask enrollment or admissions advisers about military-specific discounts, benefits programs, and financial aid options, as these can stand to save you tens of thousands of dollars.
As a veteran or an active duty member of the Armed Forces, you likely already know how life can sometimes get in the way of your educational responsibilities. To prevent any major scheduling disasters, considering looking for school’s that offer flexible degree programs. One way to achieve this is by attending an online school.
A genuinely military friendly online program should provide you with the flexibility to learn at your own pace, study around your busy schedule, and complete assignments and exams from the comfort and convenience of your own home. The flexibility offered by such a program is truly beneficial for members of the military, as they won’t interfere with your already busy lifestyle, your ability to hold down a full-time job, or the potential that you will need to move or be deployed during the middle of your academic program.
An alternative option that is a little less flexible, yet still quite military friendly, would be to attend a Servicemembers Opportunity College. SOC schools form a network of campuses near military bases that allow transferring credits from one campus to another, making any necessary relocations far less disruptive to your long-term educational success.
Military friendly colleges shouldn’t only offer benefits to military personnel, but also to their spouses and dependents. If you have a spouse or dependent that wishes to attend college as well, seek colleges that are members of the MyCAA Program. The MyCAA Program provides tuition assistance for associate degrees as well as for various other credentials, helping your dependents pay for their programs at a significantly reduced cost.
You can easily find out if a school is a member of the MyCAA Program by checking out their website. Usually it will be mentioned in the financial aid or military students section of the site. If you can’t find any mention of it on their site, then the school is probably not a participant, but just to make sure, ask the enrollment advisers whether or not they support this important benefits package.
Last but by no means least, check out the school’s accreditation statement to make sure that they are a legitimate provider of high quality education programs. This is by far the most important aspect that determines whether or not a school is truly military friendly. Any school that is not accredited should be avoided like the plague, and schools lacking regional accreditation should be placed on a list of lower importance than those who do have regional accreditation.
Even if the school you want to attend offers the best military benefits out there, if it isn’t accredited by a respected academic association, the qualification you receive there will do little to help you move up in the military ranks or impress potential employers. Make sure that the schools you’re interested in attending are accredited by viewing their accreditation statements online.
If they have been accredited by a particular association or board, look up that organization to check its validity. See what other schools are accredited by the same organizations and delve into the school’s overall academic reputation online by checking sites like Yelp, searching for the schools name with “reviews” in your search query on Google, and asking other members of the military.
Have graduates been able to get good jobs after studying there? What do news websites such as US News & World Report have to say about the school? These are very important questions you will need to get answered before settling on a school, and the answers to them can be easily found online since everyone and everything is basically just a mouse click away.
Take all of the above suggestions into consideration prior to enrolling in your school of choice. Don’t cut corners, but carry out thorough research to make sure that you can avoid the for-profit schools using phony claims who don’t have veterans or servicemen’s best interest at heart. Fully explore each college you come across and don’t be afraid to reach out directly to schools admissions advisers, current and former students to get your questions answered.
If you play your cards right, you should be able to find a military friendly school that provides high quality education programs along with a variety of significant financial assistance benefits, leaving you with a great education at little to no cost out of pocket. If you get stuck along the way, feel free to reach out to us in the comments section below.