Inside the Best Colleges for Veterans Rankings

U.S. News produces separate rankings to help military veterans in their college choices.

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Veterans and active service members can use federal benefits that ease the burden of applying, paying for and completing their degrees.

The inaugural U.S. News Best Colleges for Veterans rankings were published today on usnews.com. This past May we published comparable rankings of which distance education programs that enroll mostly nontraditional students are the best for veterans.

Although some might think that the top-ranked schools in the long-standing Best Colleges rankings should be equally applicable to veterans and active service members, we publish these separate rankings because there are additional factors that people with military experience should consider.

While all prospective students seek a good education from a reputable institution, veterans and active service members can take advantage of federal benefits that ease the burden of applying, paying for and completing their degrees.

That is the modus operandi behind the Best Colleges for Veterans rankings: listing the top numerically ranked colleges in our 2014 Best Colleges rankings that are certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium.

The GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program help students finance the cost of the program – not only sparing them from overbearing debt, but also increasing the likelihood they stay enrolled and graduate in normal time.

SOC Consortium members ensure that students can continue progress toward their degree by transferring credits to a different consortium member rather than retaking course work or contending with separate application and accreditation standards at an institution outside of the consortium.

For further details on how the rankings were calculated, see the methodology.

Here are a few findings from the Best Colleges for Veterans rankings:

• In total, there were 234 ranked schools across all 10 U.S. News ranking categories. Slightly less than one-fourth of schools numerically ranked in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings offered all the benefits needed to be eligible for the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking.

• There is significant geographic dispersion among the 20 highest-ranked National Universities, located in 16 different states. This shows that throughout the country there are highly rated institutions offering benefits to students with military experience.

• The 20 highest-ranked National Universities also include a large number of public schools. In the top 20 there are 15 publics compared with just five private schools. This indicates that public institutions are more likely to offer benefits to students with military experience.