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How to Tell if Your School is Military-Friendly

Dec 19, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Veterans often face specific challenges when it comes to completing their education. It’s not easy making the transition from military life to academia, but some schools make it easier than others.

There are several “military friendly” college lists out there. But some of these lists are not as accurate as they could be—and for both traditional and accredited online colleges, there can be a lot of cash riding on attracting veterans. Here’s how to tell if a school is as military-friendly as it claims to be.

They have a job placement program for veterans

Many employers give preferential treatment to veterans when it comes to hiring, including state and local governments. Your college should have a job placement program with staff well versed in benefits and employment opportunities for veterans. There should also be professionals who can help you translate your military experience into transferable skills on a resume.

See Also: Online Military Education

They accept credit for military training

As a member of the military, you have probably undergone plenty of education already. And that education should count toward a degree at a military-friendly school. There are many different military training programs, and your school should have knowledgeable staff that knows how much credit you can get for the ones you attended.

High graduation rates for veterans

Some schools have lower graduation rates than others. If the percentage of veteran nongraduates at your school is higher than the average overall, it could be a sign that your school does not provide enough support to veterans in making the transition from military to academic life.

Efficiency with GI Bill paperwork

Under Post-9/11 GI Bill regulations, schools must send a certification to Veterans Affairs once a month to confirm that you are still enrolled. The VA sends your tuition to the school directly once it receives that confirmation. If the school gets a certification in late or misses a month, that could cause serious problems for you.

It offers Yellow Ribbon benefits

The GI Bill pays for in-state tuition for public schools. The Yellow Ribbon program pays the same amount you’d get under the GI Bill for any school, including private and out-of-state public colleges. It gives you more freedom to choose which school to attend, but not every school accepts these benefits. And among those who do, some offer the benefits only to a limited number of students on a first-come, first served basis. Schools are required to disclose how much they offer in Yellow Ribbon benefits and how many students receive those benefits every year.

It has a strong on-campus or online veterans presence

Is there an established community in place for veteran students? Are there clubs and groups for veterans? If so, see if you can talk to the students in these groups. They should be able to give you a realistic assessment of how good the school is in handling veterans’ issues.

It doesn’t aggressively try to recruit you

To many schools, veterans are cash cows—because of the military tuition benefits offered by the government. As a result, some schools—especially for-profit schools—will aggressively try to get veterans and active-duty members of the military to enroll in classes, regardless of readiness or the appropriateness of the program. If the school is calling you frequently or otherwise aggressively trying to get you to sign up, it’s a bad sign.

It adheres to the Military Students’ Bill of Rights

The school should be aware of the Military Students’ Bill of Rights and adhere to its recommendations. These include:

  • Accurate and available information about programs, accreditation, transfer credits, and other requirements. 
  • The ability to access basic information about the college and fees without disclosing personal information.
  • Educational and career guidance without high-pressure recruitment tactics.
  • A clear explanation of the costs of tuition, non-coercive and non-misleading information about student loans, and information on how military benefits apply.
  • Accurate and non-misleading information about scholarships.
  • Meaningful screening of student readiness and strategic placement for each student.
  • Informed and accessible support services for students.
  • Clear information on how mobilization, activation, and temporary military assignments will affect a student’s college career.
  • A clear process for filing appeals and grievances.

Your school can actively work to get you the support you need—or it can allow you to sink or swim on your own. Look for the schools that provide real, meaningful support to their veterans, and you should be able to get more out of your education.

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