According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "between 2000 and 2012, more than 900,000 veterans and military service members received education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs." Former servicemembers have an increasing presence on college campuses today, but how do they choose which school to attend? Take a look at AFBA's list of things veterans should consider when choosing a college:
Admissions requirements and degree offerings
Before spending the time to apply to a school, veterans should ensure that they meet the admission requirements. Some universities will require applicants to take admissions tests, such as the ACT or SAT, before accepting them. Additionally, veterans should make sure the college offers the degree program the former servicemembers are interested in pursuing.
Veterans support on campus
Going back to school is a big decision, especially for veterans – many of whom are nontraditional students. Completing a degree may seem like an impossible feat without the right support. Look for colleges that have a veterans support program on campus or offer programs to help former servicemembers transition into campus life. Talking to veterans already enrolled in certain colleges can also help others get a feel of the reception former servicemembers get on campus.
Ability to gain credit from military service
Some schools offer veterans the opportunity to translate their military service into credit. Ask your on-campus advisor if any of your experience qualifies as college credit. This is especially important for former servicemembers who took the CLEP during service or learned a foreign language as part of their service duties. Getting credit for things already accomplished can help veterans save money in the long run.
Veterans will get some money for school from their GI Bill benefits. However, depending on the institution they choose to attend or the number of credits in which they enroll, these benefits may not cover the cost of school in its entirety. Former servicemembers should pay attention to tuition and fees each semester to avoid accumulating student aid debt. Staying within financial means will help veterans get the most from their benefits.
Going back to school is a great way to begin life after service. For veterans, knowing how to choose the right college could be the driving element that leads them to successfully earn a degree.