In the coming years, more than a million service men and women will end military careers and begin the transition back to civilian life.
Many of these vets will decide to take advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and go back to school to finish degrees, enroll in college for the first time, or work toward a master’s degree.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that the pool of undergraduate student veterans is growing on college campuses and currently numbers about 660,000 or three percent of undergrads nationwide. About 215,000 of these are military service members on active duty or in the reserves.
And slowly but surely, colleges and universities are beginning to wake up to the advantages of welcoming student veterans to their campuses.
But not surprisingly, some schools are doing a better job than others.
To generate a list of colleges doing the most for military veterans, the Military Times surveyed 650 two- and four-year institutions on their efforts to accommodate vets and active-duty service members. They found:
- About 84 percent accept American Council on Education (ACE) credits, which convert military training into academic hours
- About six in 10 schools have a veterans office on campus
- More than three-quarters waive late fees for students whose military education benefits arrive late
- About half waive interest, advance credit toward the purchase of books and other expenses, or help students find emergency money
- Almost 75 percent offer online degree programs, which can be crucial for deployed troops
The survey also showed deficiencies. Fewer than 11 percent of the institutions polled require faculty- and staff wide training on veterans issues, and 43 percent had no such training available even for staff who would participate voluntarily.
To find the Best for Vets, the Military Times factored in enrollment, Yellow Ribbon participation, residency accommodations, ACE credits, participation in Veterans Upward Bound, the existence of a veterans office and staff, graduation rates, and loan default rates.
Locally, only Norfolk State University (35) and George Washington University (45) earned positions on the four-year colleges list. Liberty University (2) and UMUC (7) were listed among the best online or nontraditional programs.
And after crunching the numbers, the following four-year colleges came out as Best for Vets:
1. Eastern Kentucky University
2. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
3. Rutgers University, NJ
4. University of South Florida
5. D’Youville College, NY
6. University of Nebraska-Omaha
7. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
8. Medaille College, NY
9. University of Kansas
9. University of the Incarnate Word, TX
11. Chadron State College, NE
12. University of Kentucky
13. Wright State University, OH
14. Arizona State University
15. Concord University, WV
15. North Georgia College and State University
15. St. Petersburg College, FL
18. West Virginia University
19. Olympic College, WA
20. Bowling Green State University, OH
For more information or to see both lists of colleges, visit the Military Times website.