Finding Military-Friendly Schools
By Erin Hasinger
January 10, 2008
There are plenty of elements to take into consideration when someone with military experience is thinking about college. Lots of schools cater to veterans, and here we’ve outlined a few of the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a military-friendly school:
If you plan to receive educational benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) program, make sure the schools you consider are approved educational providers. Check out http://inquiry.vba.va.gov/weamspub/buildSearchInstitutionCriteria.do for the VA’s list of approved programs.
Cost is usually at the top of the list for anyone going after a degree, and for military members, there are plenty of factors to consider beyond the basic tuition cost. First, you’ll need to know exactly how much money you have coming to you from the military, either through tuition assistance (TA) or the MGIB. Second, you need to know exactly what your degree program is going to cost. Most schools advertise their tuition rate – either a flat rate for a full-time load or cost per credit – but that generally does not include fees, books and other supplies. Check to see if your school will assess a university fee, a technology fee, a health fee, or any other fees. Get an estimate from an admissions rep on what the average cost is for books, and also ask about lab fees and other hidden costs. Know before you ever set foot in a classroom exactly what you are paying for. If TA and MGIB aren’t going to cover your costs in full, you’ll need to look into other options – federal or state financial aid, VA work study, scholarships or a job off-campus.
ACE College Credit
The American Council on Education (ACE) offers their College Credit Recommendation Service to liaison between service members and colleges, universities, and other programs to determine course credit equivalencies between classes offered in a particular program and military work experience and training. ACE works with colleges throughout the country (see to find out which schools participate in the program), and many adults receive a significant number of credits before ever setting foot in a classroom.
For example, ACE recommends that a public affairs chief in the Army should receive 18 upper-level bachelor degree credits – 3 each in interpersonal communication, public affairs planning, public relations policy and management, organizational management, operations management and strategic planning and forecasting. Most colleges consider a full-time class load to be around 15 credits, so this kind of equivalency program could easily knock off an entire semester of college study, saving you a lot of time and a lot of money.
There are plenty of scholarships earmarked specifically for people in the military and those who have already served. While many scholarships come directly from a particular branch of service, they are also often offered directly by a college or university. Boise State University , for example, offers a scholarship for honorably discharged veterans and their children. Many colleges and universities offer similar scholarships specifically for those who have served in the armed forces.