5 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Online Universities for Veterans

Military veteran sitting at a desk across from a mentor and discussing online universities
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For veterans, attending a university full or even part-time can be difficult, as they may need to work to support themselves or they may not be able to commute to school for other reasons. 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, but it can all 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.

1. Affordability

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, like veteran scholarships or credit for military training. When considering affordability, also 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 to help them pay for college, such as 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. 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 also help cover money for housing, books and supplies, and various other educational expenses.

3. Flexibility

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 the respondents who attended college online were also employed full or part-time.

Flexibility may also be a factor for veterans who feel uncomfortable attending classes in person, as they may be older than traditional college students and have different experiences. Attending classes online might also be more practical for veterans who are disabled or were injured in combat. Taking classes 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. For example, here at Columbia Southern University, our Veterans Flexible Enrollment* model features no required login times or assignment deadlines and 11 term start dates per year.

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. 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 make sure 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:

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 big differences in the quality of support offered to veterans.

Attending classes online can be a difficult adjustment 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:

Conclusion

Earning a college degree can help veterans transition to civilian employment, and online learning gives students the flexibility to pursue an education that fits their busy lives.

Here at Columbia Southern University, approximately 40% of our students are veterans, spouses and active duty. To learn more about our online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

*Veterans Flexible Enrollment is not eligible for neither Federal Student Aid nor the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. The DBA program is only available through the term learning option.

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