30 Best Military-Friendly Colleges

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Most Military-Friendly Schools

By BVS Staff
July 2020

As the United States nears two decades of non-stop global conflict, approximately 1.3 million men and women serve the U.S. military each year. Many of these active-duty service members, along with a large percentage of the 21.8 million living veterans, have put off attending college until after honorable discharge, or at least until they have served multiple tours. Fortunately, the United States has a number of programs in place to assist these military students, including the Yellow Ribbon Program, which reduces the out-of-pocket tuition costs for anyone who enlisted after 9/11.

But many military students and veterans are in need of more than just government-backed tuition breaks. Health services, scholarships, flexible academic schedules, and a supportive, pro-military on-campus culture are just a few of the extra things that make a college a good choice for any military-affiliated student.

The schools on this list represent the 30 best military-friendly colleges in the United States. While we’d agree there are certainly more than 30 colleges at which a veteran or active-duty military student would find success and support, we created this list based on the following methodology:

Four-Year College: First, we only considered four-year colleges and universities. While community colleges and technical schools can be an excellent choice for some, we ultimately concluded those belong on a different list.

Financial Opportunities: We searched specifically for schools which (a) have a strong relationship with Veterans Affairs and other government groups which deal with the Yellow Ribbon Program and other financial benefits for military, and (b) have additional financial opportunities for military students and/or offer military-only scholarships and grants.

Academic Flexibility: Whether active duty or a veteran, many military students need academic flexibility. Keeping this in mind, we looked for schools with such offerings as self-paced programs (either online or on campus) and academic credit for active duty and/or training.

Health Services: Military students often need more than just academic support, and the schools on this list all have some type of service that caters to the emotional needs of vets and active-duty military students. While these services often come in the form of counseling, they also include veteran student organizations.

General On-Campus Respect for Military: Finally, additional financial opportunities, academic flexibility, and available health services don’t mean as much if the campus does not enjoy a certain level of respect for the military. Therefore, we carefully chose schools that have proven themselves to be a good environment for military students.

Rank School Location
1 Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH
2 California State University - San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA
3 Colorado State University Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO
4 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
5 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
6 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
7 Fordham University New York, NY
8 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
9 Georgia Southern University Savannah, GA
10 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
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  • Bowling Green State University
    Location

    Bowling Green, OH

    It should come as no surprise that Military Times calls Bowling Green State University the very best college in Ohio for military students. The university has an easy, streamlined process for all incoming military students, and is uniquely set up for those who are still actively serving or who are in a military reserve unit. This process includes allowing options such as easily withdrawing from a class, or finishing requirements for a class on an accelerated schedule. A Veterans Affairs clinic is located near the campus for the convenience of the university's many veterans, while the university itself has a strong working relationship with both the Ohio Veterans Services and the United States Department of Veterans Services.

  • California State University - San Bernardino
    Location

    San Bernardino, CA

    We aren't the only ones who recognize CSU San Bernardino as one of the best military-friendly colleges; US Veterans Magazine, The Military Times, and Military Friendly have all included this state university on their lists of the best schools for veterans, too. Upon enrolling, military students and veterans are given a useful handbook which details all of the services available to them. These services include Tuesday evening Veterans Support Groups, a veterans resource fair, and various volunteer opportunities specifically for veterans.

  • Colorado State University Global Campus
    Location

    Greenwood Village, CO

    Of the Colorado State University system's 38,000 students, just over 2,000 are active-duty military or veterans. And with many of those military students choosing to pursue their degrees via the university's accredited online program, it's no wonder Colorado State University—Global Campus is one of the best military-friendly colleges in the country. Nearly 65% of student veterans graduate with a degree within six years, giving CSU—Global Campus one of the best graduation rates for vets. This is partly due to the university's association with the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society, a national organization dedicated to seeing veterans succeed academically. Additionally, each year CSU—Global Campus awards more than 300 veteran students with the Dave and Gail Liniger Student-Veteran Scholarship, a fantastic additional resource to help pay for school.

  • Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel University is becoming the chosen university of more and more veterans and military students. Indeed, according to Drexel's Office of Veteran Student Services, upwards of 800 veterans and military dependents choose Drexel each year. As Drexel students, they have access to a number of on-campus pro-military organizations and events, including the Yellow Ribbon Fund, the Drexel Veterans Association, the Drexel Veterans Task Force, the Drexel Veterans Alumni Network, and the annual Veterans Day Tribute, among others. Drexel has three campuses located in Philadelphia.

  • Eastern Kentucky University
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Eastern Kentucky University boasts an extremely successful Operation Veteran Success, which has taken on a series of initiatives that have made the school one of the most military-friendly colleges in the country according to such publications as Military Times and GI Jobs. These initiatives include waived application fees, lower in-state tuition for all veterans, priority registration, access to the Books for Boots textbook exchange program, on-campus veteran clubs, and a specialized orientation specifically to assist veterans in their transition to academic life.

  • Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Military students and veterans at Florida State University have access to the Student Veterans Center, a specialized department trained to help with everything from admissions through the post-graduation career search. Additionally, FSU boasts a Veterans Alliance, which acts as a sort of centralized resource for veterans. Through the Alliance, veterans have access to health resources as well as scholarships. The Alliance is also composed of a range of other helpful services, including Veteran's Liaisons, the Collegiate Veterans Association, Students for America's Military, the Veterans Student Union, Veterans Alumni Society, Operation Family Caregiver, Veterans with Disabilities, and the Veteran Friends and Family Group, among others.

  • Fordham University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Fordham University is a private Jesuit university with a strong reputation for being military friendly. The Fordham University Veterans Initiative helps military students with all support relating to finances and academics, while other campus programs exist to advise military students with flexible schedules, internships, and even yoga classes. Finally, though there is a national cap on VA benefits, Fordham, a supporter of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, has increased its commitment to cover all tuition for any veteran serving after 9/11.

  • Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Fort Hays State University has a military background itself; it was founded in 1902 on land that was once a military outpost. Thus, perhaps it's not so surprising that it's included on our list of the 30 best military friendly colleges. Of course, the real reason we've included it has less to do with the history of its land, and more to do with the fact that has a long list of programs designed to help its military students succeed. Besides offering several scholarships and financial programs aimed specifically at members of the military, Fort Hays State University participates in 8 Keys to Veteran Success, a national program that supports veterans and their families as they transition back into the real world and towards a career. For active-duty students, the university boasts an impressive selection of more than 50 online degree programs that can be customized to the student's time and interests.

  • Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Savannah, GA

    With only around 7,000 students, Armstrong State University may be on the smaller side, but that hasn't stopped it from being widely recognized as one of the best military-friendly colleges. In fact, Military Times ranked it the fourth best college in the country for veterans, citing Armstrong's top-notch Veterans Affairs Office and Military Resource Center. Veteran students can receive academic credit for their military training, and the school's affiliation with the Yellow Ribbon Fund ensures plenty of financial opportunities. Additionally, Armstrong is home to the Armstrong Green Zone, a groundbreaking program which specially trains the university's faculty and staff to further assist veterans and other military-affiliated students with anything they may need as they transition from the military life to the academic life.

  • Lewis University
    Location

    Romeoville, IL

    Lewis University is a Roman Catholic college of about 6,800 students. Military Times, GI Jobs, Student Veterans of America and Vet Ally have all listed Lewis among their best colleges for military students, and it's not hard to see why. Military students and their families are not required to pay application fees to the university, and once enrolled have access to the school's Military Education and Resource Center. Active duty military members have the added benefit of a reduced tuition rate.

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