Tuition Discounts for Service Members: Military Friendly Online Colleges

military tuition discounts

An online bachelor’s degree costs between $40,926 and $62,756 in tuition. Add the costs of books, supplies, and incidentals, and it’s a financial challenge. Fortunately, tuition discounts for service members are available. If you’re interested, you should check out the best military friendly online colleges.

Why are these military-specific tuition discounts offered in the first place? The main reason is to make college education more affordable for military students. Doing so has many personal and societal benefits, including:

  • Gaining the knowledge and skills for a military student’s personal and professional growth. A bachelor’s degree is a typical requirement for higher-ranking positions in the military.
  • Earning a college degree can ease the military-to-civilian life transition for military students. This is particularly true for veterans who may not have held jobs outside of the military. A veteran becomes more job-competitive with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Meeting lifelong learning needs prepares military students for career and life success. Adaptability to fast-changing job markets and technology is a must to stay relevant.
  • Completing a college degree program boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. The sense of achievement has a positive impact on mental health. Many military service members and veterans experience mental health issues.
  • Providing support for military families that enable them to meet their unique challenges. Adequate family support has a multigenerational impact, too.
  • Creating a sense of community also aids in the smooth military-to-civilian life transition. Military students build networks and connections beyond their military lives.
  • Recruiting more citizens for enlistment and reenlistment. Tuition discounts are a means to recruit and retain talented individuals. These are also instrumental in maintaining job satisfaction and employee morale.
  • Enabling military students to earn degrees means empowering them toward significant economic contributions. Higher incomes mean more consumer spending and other economic benefits.
  • Having an educated military workforce improves national security and fosters innovation and creativity. We become better as a nation.

Of course, tuition discounts for military students contribute to increased equity in education.

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Understanding Tuition Discounts for Service Members

Colleges with military discounts follow relevant laws that mandate them. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, and Yellow Ribbon Program are examples.

These military tuition discounts are in recognition of their service and sacrifice. Military students and their families face unique challenges, including fair access to education.

The rising costs of education are one of these challenges. Military students also deal with unpredictable schedules, long deployments, and intensive workloads. Many have been unable to save because military life has its financial challenges. The tuition discounts enable them to address these unique challenges.

Colleges that offer military discounts allow students to choose from many options. Military students must work with authorized college officials to determine their best options. Many online colleges have dedicated military liaison officers for this purpose. 

Military Tuition Assistance Programs

Every branch of the military has its tuition assistance program. Note that every branch has its specific criteria, process, and limits, too. Both active-duty members and National Guard and Reserve members are eligible. Qualified personnel can receive up to 100% coverage for tuition and fees.

GI Bill Benefits

The in-state public online college GI Bill benefits provide up to 36 months of full tuition and fees. Qualified students also receive a housing allowance and monthly book stipends. Students enrolled in private colleges must be aware of tuition caps.

Check out the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits. Too. Qualified students receive a monthly education benefit for tuition, books, and other expenses.

Yellow Ribbon Program

Many affordable military schools are Yellow Ribbon Program participants. Liberty University and Arizona State University are examples. The Yellow Ribbon Program covers excess tuition costs that the GI Bill cannot cover. Both the university and the Department of Veterans Affairs share the costs.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program (Chapter 35)

Eligible spouses and children of active-duty service members and veterans may qualify for DEA benefits. These include up to 45 months of education coverage for degree programs, among others. Specific eligibility requirements apply.

Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Section 702)

Public institutions must provide veterans and their dependents with in-state tuition rates. Eligible students must be using educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill or MGIB. Their use of these benefits must be within three years of honorable discharge.

Institutional Military-specific Scholarships and Grants

Many colleges that accept military tuition assistance also have their military-specific scholarship programs. The University of Texas at Austin has its Clements Center Military Scholarship. The University of Southern California offers its General William Lyon University Scholarship.

Tip: Ask about these military-specific scholarship programs and apply when possible. Every tuition aid counts.

In-state Tuition Rates

Many states allow qualified military students and their dependents to enroll at in-state tuition rates. The policy usually applies to public institutions only, regardless of residency status.

Examples include Texas’ Hazlewood Act Exemption and California’s Education Code (Section 68075.7). New York’s Education Law provides in-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools, too. Florida has its versions, too, including the Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program.

Military Tuition Rate and Fee Waivers

Many online colleges offer fee waivers and military tuition rates for military students. Arizona State University Online is a popular online military college for this reason. Other best online colleges for military students are the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and Liberty University (LU) Online. Check out Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and Purdue Global, too.

Transfer Credits for Military Training and Experience

The best military online colleges accept transfer credits from military training and experience. Basic training, technical training, and occupational experience are convertible to credits.

While these aren’t tuition discounts per se, transfer credits are cost-saving measures. Transfer credits decrease the number of courses for completion to earn the degree. Cost and time savings become possible.

Check out Purdue Global’s PME2Degree. SNHU’s generous transfer credit program accepts JST and ACE credits, as well as CLEP and DANTES.

Employer Tuition Assistance Programs

Employer tuition reimbursements aren’t military tuition discounts per se. But these are excellent tuition-saving means, too. Military students should ask their employers about their specific programs.

Walmart has its Live Better U (LBU) program that provides 100% tuition and book coverage. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan and ASU also provide 100% tuition coverage. Home Depot has its tuition assistance program, too.

Indeed, there’s no excuse to earn your college degree as a military student. Start by asking about these programs and considering your options.

Benefits of Online Colleges for Military Personnel

The best online colleges military students flock to offer many benefits. These colleges provide accommodations that address the unique needs military students face. Of course, the strong financial support in the form of tuition aid is a foremost benefit.

Other important benefits of attending an online university for military students are:

Learning from anywhere

Students can attend synchronous classes from anywhere with their Internet-connected personal computer. Asynchronous courses are even more flexible. Learning from anywhere is a huge advantage for deployed military students.

Convenient access to learning materials and flexible schedules are also helpful. Military students can study as their work schedules allow.

Flexible enrollment options

Military students can enroll as part-time or full-time students, depending on their work schedules. Many programs also have a self-paced learning environment.

Many online colleges also offer military-specific accommodations. These include deadline extensions, course deferments, and withdrawal without penalty.

The best online colleges have dedicated military assistance staff members and offices, too. These can include veteran resource centers and military resource teams. The military-specific student support services include admissions support, tutoring, and academic counseling.

How to Find and Apply for Tuition Discounts

With their significant benefits, you should take advantage of military tuition discounts. Here are effective ways to find and apply for them.

  • Do your research. Ask for information from your military branch. Browse the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense websites. Communicate with the online college’s financial aid officer about your options.
  • Understand the application process and eligibility requirements. These are usually provided in detail, but when in doubt, ask. Check if you fall within the criteria and status requirements. While spouses and dependent children may qualify, it isn’t so in all programs.
  • Gather the required documents. Proof of identification and affiliation are common requirements. Enrollment and financial documents are also common.
  • Complete the application form. Be sure to double-check your entries on the form. Attach its supporting documents. Submit the complete and accurate application. Check if it’s through the traditional or digital route. Submit your application on or before the deadline.
  • If necessary, confirm that the authorized office received your application. Ask if there are issues that must be addressed pronto.
  • Once your application has been approved, you should receive an official notification.
  • Review your statement of account to determine if it reflects your tuition discounts. Communicate with your financial aid officer if there are issues.


Indeed, with online degrees military students earn open opportunities for personal and professional growth. But college can be expensive, too. Military tuition discounts, fortunately, make it possible to earn a college degree. You must take advantage of them and even get a full ride.