You have served your country with honor and distinction. Now, it’s time to do something for yourself. If you’re an active duty servicemember, veteran or a military spouse and you are thinking of going back to school to earn your post-secondary degree, you should know that certain schools are more receptive to military students than others. It’s in your best interests to choose a military-friendly college that can help you maximize your military education benefits, offer additional financial incentives and facilitate the transition from the military to the campus.
Military-Friendly Colleges Welcome Military Education Benefits
It can be tricky trying to navigate your military education benefits. This is especially true since there are multiple programs, all with their various limitations. A school that is military-friendly should provide comprehensive guidance to military students as they seek to use their education benefits. Active duty military students may be eligible to use the following entitlements:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits: Up to 36 months of education benefits for servicemembers and veterans
- Montgomery GI Bill benefits: Up to 36 months of education benefits for veterans
- Tuition Assistance (TA): Can cover up to 100 percent of tuition and fees
- Tuition Assistance Top-Up Program: A supplemental benefits program intended to cover costs not covered by TA
It isn’t always easy for military students to know which benefits they should use at which time or which benefits they are eligible to receive. Military-friendly colleges should facilitate this process. For example, at GCU, the Veterans Affairs Office features dedicated military benefit liaisons. All liaisons are fully knowledgeable about education benefits and can assist military students in optimizing the use of their benefits.
A Military-Friendly College Should be a Yellow Ribbon School
The GI Bill does not cover all higher education expenses. In particular, students who wish to attend a private college or a public college not located in their home state may run into problems financing their education. The Yellow Ribbon Program was designed to fill in the gaps so students can attend the institution of their choice.
Higher education institutions may voluntarily choose to enter the Yellow Ribbon Program. By participating, these schools agree to make additional funds available. They also agree not to place additional charges on the students’ GI Bill entitlements. Yellow Ribbon funds may be available to students who:
- Are not active duty
- Are not a spouse using transferred entitlement
- Qualify for the maximum benefit rate (Post-9/11 GI Bill)
A Military-Friendly School Offers Financial Assistance to Military
A college that is truly military-oriented understands that investing in the education of veterans and active duty servicemembers is also a way to invest in the future of the nation. Military-friendly colleges are those that show their appreciation for the sacrifices of military families by offering financial incentives beyond assistance with veteran benefits.
With GCU’s online and evening cohorts, for instance, we are pleased to offer a special discounted rate for active duty military members and their spouses, and special scholarships for other military members and dependents. For more information, please visit our website.
Military-Friendly Colleges Have a Dedicated Veterans’ Center
Making the transition from the military to campus life is stressful and complicated. It can be even harder if you’re continuing to serve in the military while completing your degree on the side. If you encounter a problem with your military education benefits or any other aspect of earning your degree, you should be able to find the help you need from someone who truly understands the complexities of military life.
For this reason, a military-friendly college should have a dedicated veterans’ center staffed by resource coordinators who are exceptionally knowledgeable about military education benefits and similar issues. The resource coordinators should serve as military students’ advocates on campus who protect the students’ best interests. Military students can rely on these resource coordinators to help them use their education benefits, connect them to needed resources and thoroughly answer questions. Current and prospective GCU students can reach out to their student services counselor with any questions about their education benefits, and our Veterans Center for student resources.
Military-Friendly Schools Should Offer Flexible Learning Options
For active duty servicemembers, it can be a challenge to fit in learning while also managing regular duties and deployments. Veterans also face difficulties earning degrees, as they may work a civilian job while attending school due to financial need. Schools that are truly military-friendly should offer flexible learning options, such as online and evening classes.
Grand Canyon University, a Yellow Ribbon school, is proud to be a military-friendly college with a longstanding history of supporting our community and our country. We offer a diverse selection of degree programs with online and evening classes so that military servicemembers and spouses can enjoy a flexible learning path. Active duty servicemembers, veterans and spouses are urged to connect with our resource coordinator at our Veterans Center for information about military education benefits and academic resources. To learn more, contact us today!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.