In honor of Veterans Day 2015, MONEY has compiled this list of the nation’s best schools for veterans looking to start or return to college. To create our list, we partnered with Military Times, which just published its own annual rankings of “Best for Vets: Colleges.” On top of its data, we overlaid MONEY’s own annual rankings of best-value colleges, eliminating any schools that didn’t make our cut for value.
The Military Times list, which is derived from surveying hundreds of colleges, rates schools on issues that are uniquely important to veterans, including:
Yellow Ribbon participation refers to a program jointly funded by individual colleges and the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover gaps between what the GI Bill pays for tuition and what the college charges. Many colleges (including those with an “n/a” below) don’t participate because the tuition they charge veterans is at or below the GI Bill limit. The limit this year is equal to in-state tuition and fees for public colleges or $21,085 for private ones. The star ratings, with 4 as the highest, reflect how well each college helps student veterans plug the tuition gap.
Staff support is based on factors such as how many staff members work on veterans affairs, how much time they spend on veterans issues, and whether staff and faculty receive training to understand the specific challenges facing student veterans.
Priority registration indicates how well the colleges accommodate veterans in getting into the courses they need. That’s important because vets have only 36 months of GI Bill benefits, and at some colleges, especially large public ones, classes can fill up quickly. It helps to give veterans early access to registration so their benefits don’t run out before they can take the courses they need.
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MONEY’s “Best Colleges” rankings, the other component of this list, rate more than 700 colleges on 21 measures of educational quality; affordability; and student outcomes, measured, in part, by graduates’ earnings. Every college on our list should provide students with a strong education at an affordable price and help launch them into promising careers. That’s true of veterans and non-veterans alike. You can read our full methodology here.
The list below features 25 schools that not only deliver great value for students but also provide resources designed to help veterans succeed.
|The Best for Vets||Military Times rank*||Money rank||Yellow Ribbon participation||Staff support||Priority registration|
|University of South Florida||2||566||4 stars||4 stars||Yes|
|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick||5||119||4 stars||4 stars||Yes|
|The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey||6||483||4 stars||4 stars||Yes|
|California State University, San Bernardino||8||268||n/a||4 stars||Yes|
|The University of Kansas||10||399||4 stars||4 stars||No|
|San Diego State University||11||116||n/a||3.5 stars||Yes|
|South Dakota State University||12||367||n/a||4 stars||No|
|Colorado State University||13||268||4 stars||3 stars||Yes|
|Lewis University||14||483||4 stars||2.5 stars||No|
|Western Illinois University||15||268||n/a||2 stars||Yes|
|Western Kentucky University||17||556||4 stars||4 stars||Yes|
|Old Dominion University||22||525||n/a||3 stars||Yes|
|Texas A&M University||23||20||4 stars||3 stars||No|
|Florida State University||24||264||4 stars||2.5 stars||Yes|
|Bowling Green State University||25||577||n/a||2 stars||Yes|
|Quinnipiac University||26||246||4 stars||3.5 stars||Yes|
|East Carolina University||28||483||3.5 stars||4 stars||Yes|
|Texas State University||29||412||n/a||2.5 stars||Yes|
|Webster University||30||598||4 stars||2.5 stars||No|
|The George Washington University||31||209||3.5 stars||3.5 stars||No|
|Texas Tech University||32||221||n/a||2.5 stars||Yes|
|Arizona State University||33||354||4 stars||3.5 stars||Yes|
|Syracuse University||35||171||4 stars||3.5 stars||Yes|
|University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire||37||196||4 stars||2 stars||Yes|
|University of Arkansas||41||451||4 stars||3 stars||No|
* You can read Military Times‘ full list, including community colleges and technical schools, here.