Why Military-Friendly Colleges Matter to Veterans

Since the passing of the Post 911 GI Bill, military veterans can use the resource for apprenticeships, on-the-job training and trade schools.

Military-friendly schools are described as educational institutions that offer incentives such as flexibility, student support and value for active duty military members and veterans interested in higher education. Identifying military-friendly schools requires research, as the military does not have an official list of its own.

Different organizations and online rankings systems have created their own lists of military-friendly schools. Finding a legitimate list to help with decision-making requires a lit bit of research. Look into the methodology of how the schools were chosen and how the rankings were determined. Even if a school is well-ranked, it is important to look into how the rankings were created to see what it really means for the student.

Veterans should figure out what elements are most important to them and look for methodologies that support these elements. Some typical measuring factors may include elements like graduation rates, student outcome data, faculty credentials and student services.

Before determining whether or not a school is military-friendly, a few factors should be considered. When questioning whether an educational institution is military-friendly or not, veterans should determine what their personal goals are in obtaining a degree, find out if there is a veteran’s representative to connect with, look for counseling services for veterans, find out if military credits are accepted, check out the university’s web presence and track down student veteran organizations for advice.

In addition, some universities advertise being “Yellow Ribbon” schools, which operate as part of the Post 911 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. The program works with educational programs that go above and beyond the tuition benefits from the GI Bill. Veteran students can potentially be awarded up to 100 percent of their out-of-pocket education costs through Yellow Ribbon programs.

Veterans should also be aware of for-profit institutions that are predatory. Some have been using misleading information to enroll veterans in expensive programs that don’t provide the promised value and drain their GI Bill education benefits, leaving them in debt.

In addition to a public information campaign to increase awareness about military education programs to active-duty service members and returning veterans, the Veterans Student Loan Relief Fund announced grants to help veterans and qualifying family members who accumulated pricey loans to attend for-profit schools.

  • To weed out for-profit recruiters with cruel intentions, here are a few tips veterans can follow:
  • Do your research.
  • Avoid schools that are unlicensed.
  • Look into the school’s accreditation and know the difference between accreditation types.
  • Take the time to fully understand all policies before enrolling and all documents before signing them.
  • To avoid a lot of debt, make sure to understand all costs involved before enrolling.
  • Avoid schools that make unreasonable guarantees.
  • Get a copy of every signed document and the tuition cancellation policy in writing.

Veterans should keep in mind that they have the right to file a complaint if they feel they were made educational promises that were not delivered. However, diligent research and taking the time to fully understand all materials before making a decision should help prevent such issues later.

Another thing for veterans and active duty students to consider is the potential advantages to online education instead of traditional schooling.

A 2009 report by the Sloan Consortium found that more than $4.6 million students took at least one course online in the fall 2008 semester, which is a 17 percent jump from 2007. Online courses offer convenience for anyone who can’t get to a college campus, which can be especially helpful to students who aren’t able to commit to staying in a single location.

Use the same high standards of consideration when looking into online education options. All of the advice above can also be used to help find a credible online education program for veterans.

Amanda Molinaro is an outreach specialist for U.S News University Directory, a leading destination for distance learning information, military education resources and career information online. For more information please visit http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com