You have made huge sacrifices to serve our nation and are now ready to move forward with civilian life. As you prepare for a new journey within the modern workforce, you may discover skill or knowledge gaps that call for additional training or education. A college degree is a great option, and if you complete your program online, you can enjoy a compromise-free military education. In this guide, we'll show you how.
Why Should You Pursue an Online Education?
There is no single reason to pursue an online education. This decision will be highly personal, but a general principle applies: If you want to seek a degree and believe that you will be better served by the flexibility of a virtual format, online learning may be right for you.
As you determine whether to enroll in an online program, consider your goals for obtaining your degree, especially as they relate to career advancement and your status as a veteran. What do you hope to accomplish in the civilian workforce? How will a degree equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to take the next step in your career?
Finally, consider any roadblocks to seeking higher education and whether those concerns can be overcome through the power of online learning. In many cases — and especially among working students and veterans — online learning provides an accessible solution.
Online Education Benefits for Veterans
Online education can be a great strategy for many types of learners, but it presents a variety of advantages unique to veterans. Chief among these is ease of access. Veterans are often working students with busy personal lives and families, so they often cannot afford to relocate for the sake of attending a brick-and-mortar school. Packed schedules create additional complications that may be difficult for veterans to overcome even when a conventional campus is conveniently located.
Many veterans also cite deeply personal reasons for preferring online education. Many report struggling to adapt to the challenges of civilian life and may need extra time and support to navigate the transition. While brick-and-mortar campuses certainly provide ample support, some students prefer to handle this process at their own pace while enjoying access to the comfort and familiarity of home.
Low-stress learning opportunities are highly compelling to veterans, who may appreciate a gentler and slower introduction to the challenges and opportunities of the college environment. Because this is such a common solution for military-affiliated students, there are even online degree programs tailored to meet the unique needs of veterans, making the online learning experience as enjoyable and easy to navigate as possible.
Online Military Resources and Services
Many online programs offer a variety of resources and services to help veterans and military students address common concerns. These resources can make it easier to navigate the challenges of the college experience and may even pave the way toward a job immediately following graduation. Many are provided directly by the VA, although individual colleges may also deliver enhanced support with their online education for veterans.
Key resources should factor into the decision-making process, as they can reduce stress levels and make a college degree feel much more attainable. Examples of veteran-oriented digital resources include:
Online Degrees for Military
Military students can benefit from enrolling in a wide range of degree programs. Although a military background may inform this decision to some extent, there is nothing wrong with pursuing passions that seem entirely unrelated to previous military endeavors. There is no optimum degree or major for a veteran; the best program is the one that ignites personal passion while providing a path forward in the professional world.
Despite this, military students tend to gravitate toward a few programs that allow them to leverage their unique skills and experiences while also addressing any gaps in knowledge that may persist. The top options available online include:
- Criminal justice
- Business administration
If you do not immediately feel drawn to any particular degree, it may be worthwhile to explore more versatile veteran education programs. Comprehensive programs help you develop a variety of highly sought-after soft skills and leadership qualities.
The Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies could be a great option for getting a degree that is perfectly tailored to you. At the graduate level, the Master of Arts in Leadership prepares you to drive organizational change and make your mark in a leadership capacity.
Choosing an Online School
For many veterans, choosing the right program can be more difficult than the decision to pursue online learning. When you decide to study online, a world of opportunities become available, including dozens of programs that might be out of reach if you were limited by geography.
If you struggle to narrow down your options, be mindful of how welcoming various programs are to military and veteran students. This should be a central consideration, revealing which schools will provide the most support and guidance as you embark on an exciting new journey as an online student.
Online Yellow Ribbon Schools
Many excellent online colleges are involved in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps you gain access to a variety of private and out-of-state colleges. Through this partnership between select colleges and Veteran Affairs, tuition above and beyond that covered for an in-school public college (via the Post-9/11 GI Bill) is divided between the VA and the participating college.
If distinguished as a Yellow Ribbon school, the college in question determines how much it will contribute toward tuition and fees. This amount is then matched by the VA. Contributions can vary dramatically between colleges, so it is important to do your homework to determine how much support you are likely to receive if you pursue a given degree program.
The Yellow Ribbon Program is not offered for all online programs, and even those that do provide access to Yellow Ribbon benefits may limit enrollment to a small subset of students accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The VA website provides an easy-to-use search function allowing you to determine which colleges participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Details about the Yellow Ribbon Program are publicized by many online colleges, proud to participate in this program and bring valuable educational opportunities to deserving military students.
Online GI Bill Approved Programs
One of the key benefits of veteran education programs — online or in-person — is that you can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to cover some or all the cost of tuition. These programs should be GI-approved, meaning they have been identified by the VA as excellent options for military or veteran students seeking higher education opportunities.
Details about approved programs can be uncovered by searching the Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS). This database includes a keyword search and a filtering option for Yellow Ribbon schools. The VA also provides a helpful GI Bill Comparison Tool, making it easier to see how benefits stack up between various programs.
Online Military Friendly Colleges
As you search for the ideal online program, be mindful of whether potential colleges hold the esteemed Military Friendly distinction. This designation is used to highlight the programs most committed to supporting military and veteran students and is an easy-to-spot indicator of a veteran-oriented college.
Military Friendly makes key determinations based on a wealth of resources, including public data, proprietary survey results, and personal feedback provided by actual veterans. Distinctions are then granted at three levels: gold, silver, and bronze, with gold conveying that approved programs implement best practices for military students and, as a result, achieve impressive outcomes as they relate to retention, graduation, job placement, and more.
Paying for Online Education
As you determine which programs are best suited to your unique needs as a military student, you will want to consider how you will cover the cost of your education. As we mentioned, both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program provide excellent financial support and should be top of mind.
GI benefits will not always cover the entire cost of college, so you may need to seek other benefits or resources to help you pay for your education. Options abound, and there is a strong chance that you will be able to complete your online program without needing to pay out of pocket so long as you’re willing to put forth the effort to find adequate assistance.
Online Tuition and Military Scholarships
Many excellent scholarship programs aim to recognize the contributions of active-duty personnel and veterans. These military scholarships could potentially bridge the gap between the full cost of tuition and the portion covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. Options worth applying for include:
VA Benefits for Online Education
Some veterans worry whether online education will be covered by their benefits. The good news is, yes, the VA ensures that benefits can be applied to distance learning and correspondence training, including strictly online programs. These benefits apply not only to the cost of tuition but may also be available for housing allowances, even when attending classes virtually.
Lindenwood Online Education for Veterans: Our Commitment to Military-Affiliated Students
At Lindenwood, we are passionate about meeting the unique needs of our remarkable military and veteran students. We offer strong support and assistance for military students attending our programs online and in person. Reach out today to learn more about our online and global programs, along with our commitment to military-affiliated students.