Online Education The Right Choice For Veterans

From battlefields to settling down in suburbs, the life of a veteran could be full of challenges. Picking up from where they had left off is easier said than done. Setting priorities while transitioning to civilian life is one of the biggest challenges. For many, however, returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and other hot zones, pursuing education has been a top priority.

Thankfully the resources are available. The federal government offers several programs to the veterans, should they choose to pursue higher education. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is designed for the purpose of giving several advantages to veterans who intend to attend college. In the 12 years between 2000 and 2012, more than 900,000 veterans and members of the military received education benefits through the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The largest number of veterans enrolled was between 2009 and 2010, since the Post 9/11 GI bill, passed in 2008, took effect in 2009.

What does the GI Bill offer?

The updated GI Bill, pays the in-state tuition and fees. It also covers the dependent spouses or children of the veterans, along with the provision of a monthly stipend for school related and other expenses, such as buying books, other supplies and residence expense. This law was enacted to encourage veterans to opt for higher education and expand their horizons.  

But It’s Still Not Easy

But even with this level of ease for the veterans to enroll in college, there are several issues that arise, especially in case of traditional educational institutes. The rules and regulations imposed by traditional colleges in terms of class schedules, credit transfers, credit hours, course structures, attendance criteria and so on are difficult for many veterans to adhere to. In addition to that, these veterans might experience a certain lack of camaraderie and understanding from the fellow students around them. The faculty might be difficult to deal with as well, especially when it come to obtaining credits for military training and experience. This lead to the question – is online education the right answer for veterans?

Benefits of Online Education for Veterans

Flexible Schedules: The US Military hires many part-time officials that are called to duty at random times. These officials regularly bounce back and forth between their homes and military bases making the on-campus education option hard to manage. With online education, however, this problem is solved. They can take classes from wherever they are and at whatever time of the day. If they are gone for a few weeks, they can cover up for it when they come back, because of the flexibility offered by most online education programs. In addition to that, it is much easier to pause an online program as compared to freezing a semester in a traditional college.

Transition: For veterans coming in from active duty, transitioning to normal life is a major concern. A traditional college experience is, more often than not, too much to handle. Beck Hannaford, Ball State’s Veterans Benefits and Financial Assistant Coordinator, talks about this phenomenon,

"A lot of veterans are very uncomfortable when they return to a traditional campus," he says. "They'll come in and say to me, 'What are these stupid questions the 18-year-olds ask me?' It's a problem."

Fitting into college life is hard for these military men, since they have come from a very different and traumatizing environment. Going for the online option can help ease this transition process and make it simpler for them to cope with a new lifestyle.

Understanding the System: Most traditional colleges have very rigid systems, in terms of admission process, credit hours, class timings, etc. Every function has its own set of principles that can be very difficult to grasp without a lot of guidance. Since the military personnel are used to a highly structured system, an entirely different structure is quite difficult to adopt. And in case the university does not offer a lot of guidance, these veterans might end up feeling lost for most of the time, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. 

Psychological Concerns: Due to the traumatizing conditions experienced in the line of duty, most military personnel are psychologically affected, in one way or the other. This is made worse by the physical or invisible wounds that some veterans may be dealing with. In most cases, soldiers returning from hot zones have multiple psychological and physical injuries. Hannaford talks about this,

"Many veterans are coming back with transition issues, whether it comes from traumatic brain injury or PTSD. Those cause problems in the classroom and make you feel uncomfortable."

This discomfort makes traditional education an unappealing option for most veterans. Hannaford talks about having worked with veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. According to him, they face a multitude of challenges in a classroom setting. Some recall explosions or are triggered by minor physical interactions, while others refuse to sit in rooms that have no windows. Hannaford says that one of his students even ran out of class when tornado sirens were being tested, saying that these reminded him of missiles. On the other hand, online education offers these veterans a more peaceful environment.

Top Online Programs for Veterans

The following are some of the best online programs available to veterans in the US.

Name of the Institution


Cost per Credit


School Type

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide

Daytona Beach, Florida




University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma




Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ




Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, KY




California University of Pennsylvania

California, PA




West Texas A&M University

Canyon, TX




Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA




Utah State University

Logan, UT




There are many other universities in the US that offer tremendous opportunities for veterans. These include the likes of Colorado State University – Global Campus, Daytona State College, Fort Hays State University, Washington State University, University of Florida, Charleston Southern University, CUNY School of Professional Studies and many others.

With so many options available, online education is truly an ideal path for veterans looking to advance their education and pick up their life from where they left it. 

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