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Top College Programs for Veterans

March 16, 2019

Many military-friendly colleges and universities offer programs that benefit veterans. The programs help to defray the high cost of education and out-of-pocket expenses. These colleges and universities aim to show veterans their appreciation for their military service and sacrifice. 

1. Yellow Ribbon Program 

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an extension to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This program allows participating higher education institutions to pay the amount of your tuition and fees that exceed the amount paid by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. 

2. Veteran Upward Bound Program 

The Veteran Upward Bound Program encourages the rate at which veterans enroll and succeed in postsecondary educational institutions. The program provides counseling, tutoring, and mentoring. It also offers academic instruction in subjects such as mathematics, science, literature, composition, and foreign language. 

Veterans can get assistance with college entrance exam preparation and completing entrance and financial assistance applications. 

3. Reduced Tuition for Veterans 

Many military-friendly colleges and universities offer reduced tuition for veterans. For example, a reduced rate may be 38% less for each undergraduate credit and 14% less for each graduate credit. 

The reduced tuition is different at each college and university. You can visit your preferred school’s website for its rate reduction policy. 

4. Military Tuition Assistance (TA) 

Each branch of the military (Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force) pays 100% tuition for eligible service members to the educational institution. 

The following programs are eligible for military tuition assistance: 

  • Technical vocational programs
  • Undergraduate programs
  • Graduate programs
  • Distance-learning (online) programs 
  • Independent study 


Each service branch has unique policies regarding eligibility, required service terms, and application process. Visit the branch website for more information: 
https://www.militaryonesource.mil/education-employment/for-service-members/preparing-for-higher-education/how-to-use-the-military-tuition-assistance-program 

5. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program 

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program is a leadership program offered at over 1,700 United States colleges and universities that trains and prepares students to become officers in the military. 

Participating students are obligated to serve in the military upon graduation. Their college tuition is fully paid in exchange for their military service commitment. 

6. Basic Allowance for Housing(BAH) 

Military service members are eligible to receive a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) as part of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. This allowance equals the BAH for a service member with dependents and an E-5 ranking. 

The amount of the BAH and MHA allotted is determined by various factors, most notably the college/university and its location. 

A veteran attending an online college as a full-time student receives a BAH of $840.50 which is half of the BAH national average. 

For lists of the cities and the colleges with the highest BAH, visit https://collegerecon.com/colleges-universities-highest-bah/

7. ACE Credit for Military Experience 

In collaboration with the Department of Defense, the American Council on Education (ACE) offers a program that converts a veteran’s military experience and training into college credit. 

ACE credits save veteran students time and money. To learn more about converting your military service for college credit, visit https://militarybenefits.info/college-credit-for-military-service-experience/

8. Credit for DANTES CLEP Exam 

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers exams that students can take in lieu of college courses. By successfully passing an exam, the students receive anywhere from 3 to 12 college credits for the course(s) covered by the exam(s). CLEP has 33 exams covering five subjects. 

The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), works with CLEP by paying for one exam for military personnel, their spouses, and civilian employees. 

For a list of exams, visit https://www.military.com/education/timesaving-programs/dantes-clep-list.html 

9. Credit for DSST Exam 

DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) are tests taken in exchange for college credit. College credit is available for both lower-level and upper-level undergraduate classes. 

DANTES funds the first DSST exam for military service members and veterans. The tests are held at college campus testing facilities and over 500 military installations. Veterans receiving GI Bill benefits are reimbursed for the $80 testing fee. 

For a list of exams offered, visit https://www.military.com/education/timesaving-programs/dantes-dsst-exam-list.html 

10. In-State Tuition 

Veterans and their eligible dependents are charged in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. This benefit applies only to veterans who have been discharged from the military in the last three years. Residency requirements no longer apply. 

For rules and exceptions, visit https://www.military.com/education/2015/11/13/veterans-now-eligible-for-resident-tuition.html.