The College Consensus ranking of the Best Colleges for Veterans is built to be thorough, combining perspectives from trusted ranking agencies and reputable student reviews. For generations now, military veterans have looked to America’s colleges and universities – with the help of the GI Bill – to expand their career options after service. Now, with the Consensus Best Colleges for Veterans, prospective students can look to College Consensus for a detailed and exhaustive look at the schools most consistently ranked the top for veterans. If you’re interested in an online degree, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges for Veterans.
How Did We Create Our Ranking of the Best Colleges for Veterans?
College Consensus is designed to be a different kind of college ranking, bringing together published expertise and student reviews to create the most comprehensive, aggregate ranking of colleges anywhere. Our method combines rankings from internationally recognized publishers like the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, and Forbes, to form the Publisher Rating. Verified student reviews from sites such as Niche, Cappex, and Unigo combine to form the Student Review Rating. The average of these sources forms the Consensus Rating, which make the College Consensus ranking.
Since the US government instituted the GI Bill (technically called the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944), one important measure of how a college does its job is what kinds of support it provides for veterans. The GI Bill was originally intended to help veterans readjust to civilian life, with mortgage support, business loans, and, of course, education expenses. Today, the expanded 9/11 GI Bill has helped a new generation of veterans return to school. College Consensus aims to help guide veterans and military personnel to the colleges and universities that will give them the strongest support and best opportunities for academic and professional transformation.
The institutions on the Best Colleges for Veterans must meet several qualifications:
- Be a Servicemember Opportunity Colleges member
- Have a Recognized Student Veteran Organization
- Be a Yellow Ribbon Program participant
- Employ a dedicated support contact for veterans, servicemembers, and families
- Offer credit for military training
All schools meeting this requirement are ranked according to their Consensus Rating.
What’s Different About the College Consensus Ranking?
College Consensus’ unique aggregate method provides prospective students with a cleaner, clearer way of comparing colleges. Sure, you could compare all of the rankings out there, or you could let College Consensus do that work for you, providing one straightforward, aggregate score based on all of them. College Consensus cuts through all of the confusion and biases of the many rankings out there by getting down to the numbers – just the numbers. The perspective of experts and real students are given equal weight, making Consensus the only ranking that takes in everyone’s point of view. Read more about the College Consensus methodology on the About page.
The Top Consensus Ranked Colleges for Veterans are listed in descending order by their Consensus score. In the event of ties, schools are ranked in alphabetical order with the same rank number.
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA
University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel Hill, NC
Georgetown UniversityWashington, DC
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA
University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison, WI
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN
Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX
Boston CollegeChestnut Hill, MA
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg)Blacksburg, VA
University of Maryland-College ParkCollege Park, MD
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolis, MN
Rutgers University-New BrunswickNew Brunswick, NJ
North Carolina State University at RaleighRaleigh, NC
Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH
Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN
Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL
Citadel Military College of South CarolinaCharleston, SC
James Madison UniversityHarrisonburg, VA
University of Northern IowaCedar Falls, IA
Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, TX
Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC
University of IowaIowa City, IA
Syracuse UniversitySyracuse, NY
Montclair State UniversityMontclair, NJ
University of MiamiCoral Gables, FL
University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherst, MA
SUNY Maritime CollegeThroggs Neck, NY
Texas Christian UniversityFort Worth, TX
University of California-RiversideRiverside, CA
Western Washington UniversityBellingham, WA
University of Colorado BoulderBoulder, CO
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona BeachDaytona Beach, FL
University of BaltimoreBaltimore, MD
Towson UniversityTowson, MD
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWest Chester, PA
North Central CollegeNaperville, IL
University of EvansvilleEvansville, IN
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VA
University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT
University at BuffaloBuffalo, NY
University of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau Claire, WI
Saint Martin's UniversityLacey, WA
Marist CollegePoughkeepsie, NY
Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester, NY
Salisbury UniversitySalisbury, MD
Manhattan CollegeRiverdale, NY
University of ArizonaTucson, AZ
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPittsburgh, PA
University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia, MO
University of RedlandsRedlands, CA
Muhlenberg CollegeAllentown, PA
Webster UniversitySaint Louis, MO
University of Minnesota-CrookstonCrookston, MN
Iowa State UniversityAmes, IA
Stockton UniversityGalloway, NJ
Fordham UniversityBronx, NY
Loyola Marymount UniversityLos Angeles, CA
University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL
University of New Hampshire-Main CampusDurham, NH
Marquette UniversityMilwaukee, WI
Auburn UniversityAuburn, AL
Washington State UniversityPullman, WA
National Louis UniversityChicago, IL
Michigan Technological UniversityHoughton, MI
Le Moyne CollegeSyracuse, NY
Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
University of OregonEugene, OR
Westfield State UniversityWestfield, MA
University of Oklahoma-Norman CampusNorman, OK
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaColumbia, SC
University of Mary WashingtonFredericksburg, VA
Siena CollegeLoudonville, NY
Niagara UniversityNiagara University, NY
University of South Florida-Main CampusTampa, FL
Arizona State University-TempeTempe, AZ
University of DaytonDayton, OH
Miami University-OxfordOxford, OH
Gonzaga UniversitySpokane, WA
Augustana CollegeRock Island, IL
California Lutheran UniversityThousand Oaks, CA
Mount Saint Joseph UniversityCincinnati, OH
Saint Michael's CollegeColchester, VT
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical CollegeBaton Rouge, LA
Moravian CollegeBethlehem, PA
Creighton UniversityOmaha, NE
University of Nebraska-LincolnLincoln, NE
Missouri University of Science and TechnologyRolla, MO
University of WyomingLaramie, WY
Saint Joseph's UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
Saint Louis UniversitySaint Louis, MO
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsFort Collins, CO
Lewis UniversityRomeoville, IL
Clarkson UniversityPotsdam, NY
Saint Xavier UniversityChicago, IL
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical CampusDenver, CO
Rutgers University-CamdenCamden, NJ
University of La VerneLa Verne, CA
John Carroll UniversityUniversity Heights, OH
Is College Really Free for Veterans?
If you are wondering is college really free for veterans, that depends on where the veteran is located. The best colleges for military members are typically those who are included in the free college for veterans offerings within their states. Backed by the GI Bill, many veterans can attend college free of charge in the following states:
- Connecticut: The laws in Connecticut state that may be waived for qualified veterans who attend any state university or one of the 12 Connecticut Community College/Technical Colleges.
- Florida: Florida law allows veterans to attend undergraduate programs at state universities and community colleges. The educational benefits in Florida state are intended for those who have received Purple Hearts.
- Illinois: Illinois provides veterans with as well as the payment of selected fees. This is provided that they have served for a minimum of one year, honorable discharge, have Illinois listed as the home of record, and they have returned to Illinois within six months of leaving the service.
- Indiana: Indiana allows free tuition for veterans for up to 124 credit hours in a state-sponsored college or university. Veterans must be a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal, have a permanent home address in Indiana, and must have been honorably discharged.
- Massachusetts: The state of Massachusetts waives tuition at state institutions to resident veterans who have not defaulted on student loans.
- Montana: The state of Montana offers free college courses to veterans at state schools provided that they were honorably discharged, served in a warzone, and were awarded a Campaign or Expeditionary medal.
- New Mexico: New Mexico offers free tuition to those who have been a resident of New Mexico for 10 years and those who were awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or any those who were awarded medals for service in support of any US Military campaign or armed conflict that took place after August 1, 1990. Alternatively, free tuition is also offered to those who have been a resident for at least 10 years, served in the Vietnam War, and has been issued the Vietnam Campaign or Service Medal.
- New York: New York State offers free tuition for the full cost of tuition at any State Univesity of New York.
- South Dakota: South Dakota offers free tuition to veterans who were honorably discharged, who qualify for in-state tuition, who have served in active duty since August 2, 1990.
- Texas: The state of Texas offers tuition exemption to veterans who served more than 180 days in active duty service, were honorably discharged, and have not defaulted on their student loans.
- Utah: Utah offers many programs to veterans and their dependents. These programs are available to those who have received purple hearts or those who are surviving dependents of those who were killed in action on or in the aftermath of September 11th, under certain conditions. Moreover, they also offer free tuition to military members the last year of education at a State University, under certain circumstances.
- Washington: The state of Washington offers free tuition to veterans who are residents of Washington, to those who have fought in a war or conflict overseas, who were dishonorably discharged, or children/ surviving spouses of an eligible veteran or national guard member.
- Wisconsin: Wisconsin offers free tuition to veterans under the GI Bill benefits. Which means they full waivers of tuition for up to 128 credit hours. These veterans must be honorably discharged, must have been a state resident while serving, or those who were residents for five consecutive years before enrolling in their school of choice.
How are GI Bill Benefits and the Yellow Ribbon Program Related?
As mentioned, the GI Bill was created to allow veterans to receive free college tuition. GI Bill benefits vary from state to state. However, those who comply with this bill offer free tuition to certain colleges, provided that the applicant meets a certain criteria. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the post-911 GI Bill that allows free tuition to those who have served for at least 36 months after the 9/11 tragedy, those who were honorably discharged for a service-connected injury and 30 days after September 10, 2001, and their dependents, or those who are using the Fry Scholarship. The best Yellow Robbin Schools comply with this bill.
Do Veterans Get Accepted to College Easier?
While there are no guarantees in terms of college admissions, maturity, determination, and honor that most veterans possess makes it somewhat easier to gain acceptance into certain colleges. The best colleges for military veterans are those who support the GI Bill.
How Do the Best Colleges for Active Duty Military Help My Dependents?
As mentioned, there are plenty of VA education benefits for dependents, depending on where you live and what your circumstances are. The details on how does the gi bill work for dependents are listed above.