Military Friendly Online Colleges: Flexible Policies for Service Members

military friendly online colleges

Supporting Our Military Students

Did you know that there are more than 820,000 undergraduate military students? These include active-duty service members and veterans from all branches of the military. Many military students are also National Guard and Reserve members.

Beyond their military affiliation, no two military students are alike. Indeed, it’s a diverse crowd. More than half are students of color, while 32% are first-generation college students. The average age is 23 years when they start their college journey. Many are juggling work, studies, and family life, too.

More than half are in bachelor’s degree programs. Many were also enrolled in certificate programs. Indeed, their educational needs and goals are like those of their civilian counterparts.

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Not surprisingly, many (48%) active-duty military students attended military friendly online colleges. Veterans (38%) and National Guard and Reserve members (23%) also favored online colleges.

Military students prefer online colleges because of their flexibility and accessibility. With their frequent relocations and unpredictable schedules, these work to their advantage.

But, of course, not any online college will do. Be sure to consider the best online colleges for military members. These colleges provide support services geared towards the unique needs of military students.

Why provide military student-specific support services in the first place? After all, active-duty members and veterans are ordinary American citizens, too.

Military-friendly policies in online colleges are in place for several reasons, including:

  • Strengthen educational equity between military and civilian students
  • Enable military students to earn academic credentials despite their unique challenges
  • Create a community that promotes a sense of belonging.
  • Increase their retention and graduation rates
  • Empower them toward career advancement in and out of the military
  • Ease their military-to-civilian life transition

These policies are also in recognition of and respect for their service to the nation.

With that said, let’s look at the benefits that online colleges for military students bring to the table. We’ll take a brief look at the best military friendly colleges, too.

Why Choose a Military-Friendly Online College?

Online universities offer many benefits for military students and their families. Every experience is different, of course, but military students swear by these benefits.

Financial aid for military students

Military students face the same financial challenges as their civilian counterparts in college. Foremost is funding their college studies, a formidable challenge. Net tuition for online colleges ranges between $40,926 and $62,756 for a bachelor’s degree. But that’s not all – books and supplies, technology costs, and incidentals add up. 

The good news is that these online colleges have military-specific tuition aid programs. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs administer most of them. The Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program are examples.

Check out tuition aid programs offered by every branch of the military, too. Many nonprofits also offer military-specific scholarships and grants. Check out the Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship and the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship.

Military-centric academic programs

Military students will find plenty of academic programs aligned with their current occupations. Their college education has practical applications in their workplaces. Even when you’re planning a career change, you will find many options, too. Examples include information technology, homeland security, and public administration.

Conversion of military training and experience into college credits

Online colleges have generous transfer credit policies for military students. Basic training, technical training, as well as Professional Military Education are convertible to credits. Occupational experiences are also considered for conversion.

Transfer credits save money and time. Military students can take fewer courses and graduate sooner.

Flexible scheduling

The ability to learn anytime, anywhere is the foremost reason for their popularity. Military students appreciate the flexible schedules and 24/7 access to learning materials. Better work-life balance becomes possible.

Other important benefits for military students are:

  • Tailored student support services that address their unique needs
  • Veteran-centric services and organizations that create a sense of community
  • Seamless deployment policies (tuition refunds, course withdrawals, and course resumptions without penalty)
  • Extensive networking opportunities

Indeed, military students will find a second home in these online colleges.

Flexible Enrollment Options for Military Personnel

Every online military college has specific enrollment policies. Be sure to read and understand them before starting the enrollment process. In general, nonetheless, the following are the flexible enrollment options for military students.

Rolling admissions

Are you afraid of missing an application deadline? Choose an online college for military students with rolling admissions. Applications are received and evaluated the entire year. Applicants can submit their applications at their convenient time.

Rolling admissions can also mean multiple start dates. Students can start at whatever start date suits their schedule. The usual start dates are in the fall, winter, and spring terms.

Multiple start dates can also result in faster time-to-degree. You can take courses throughout the entire academic year, even during the summer term.

Online application and admission process

Applicants submit their applications and supporting documents from anywhere in the world. There’s no geographical barrier anymore, a particular benefit for military students. Every step of the application and admission process doesn’t need in-person presence.

Flexible course load

Military students deal with unpredictable deployments and assignments. Online colleges enable them to choose between part-time and full-time enrollment. You can, for example, enroll in fewer courses if you have an intensive workload. When you have more time, you can take on a full-time course load.

By doing so, you’re more able to enjoy work-life balance. You’re less at risk of burnout, a common cause for dropouts. This is particularly true for active-duty military students. Balancing between work, education, and family responsibilities can test even the toughest Marines.

Military friendly online schools complement these flexible enrollment options with robust admission services. Many have military liaison advisors dedicated to providing applicants with admission-to-graduation support. These academic advisors understand the unique challenges faced by military students. Their personalized guidance reflects such an understanding.

The start-to-finish flexibility offered by online schools makes them attractive for military learners.

Deployment-Friendly Academic Accommodations

The unpredictability of deployments marks the lives of active-duty military personnel. Online schools with military-friendly policies adopt deployment-friendly accommodations for this reason.

While every online college has its specific deployment-related policies, the most popular are as follows.

Asynchronous learning

Students use the learning management system (LMS) anytime, anywhere with an Internet connection. The LMS makes it possible for students to perform required online learning activities.

These include accessing learning materials, participating in class activities, and submitting assignments. Students also use the LMS to take proctored exams and complete academic requirements.

Indeed, the 24/7 access and study-at-your-own-convenience features of online courses benefit students. Even when a sudden deployment happens, it’s still possible to keep up with your studies.

The accommodation also extends to changes in shifts or job responsibilities. Of course, the fact that your physical presence in a classroom isn’t required is an obvious benefit.

Self-paced online courses

Military lives can be hectic. With self-paced courses, it’s easier to keep up with your coursework at your convenience. You can study the course materials at your own pace and schedule.

Keep in mind, however, that weekly deadlines are common. Effective time management and study habits are crucial for success. You may, for example, write your assignments during your work breaks.

Notification process

Military students can notify their professors and other concerned officials upon receipt of their deployment orders. The online college can then make the appropriate accommodations. Note that personalized accommodations based on a student’s specific circumstance are possible.

Extended deadlines

Online colleges can allow extended deadlines in light of their deployment. Professors can extend deadlines due to limited access to resources or unpredictable work schedules. Extended deadlines can apply to assignments, tests, and other academic requirements.

Course deferment

Military students can request course deferment or withdrawal without penalty. In course deferment, you can pause your studies and come back when it’s convenient. In withdrawal without penalty, you can withdraw from a course yet skip the penalties. You may be able to ask for a tuition refund, too.

The law mandates many of these accommodations, too. These include the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).

The best online schools for military members and veterans with these accommodations are as follows.

  • The University of Maryland Global Campus offers military tuition programs, military advising teams, and student support services.
  • Liberty University adopts a GI Bill tuition assistance program and offers military support services.
  • American Military University offers preferred military rates, military-aligned programs, and transfer credits.
  • Southern New Hampshire University offers many tuition assistance programs.
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide provides generous funding options for military students.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Path for Your Future

In conclusion, the best military friendly schools online are here to stay. These colleges and universities make it easier for military students to earn a college degree. Their student support services also make it possible for military students to change careers and transition into civilian life.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out the military-friendly online colleges and start your college journey soon.