College Factual  by our College Data Analytics Team
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College Factual Best for Veterans College Ranking Methodology

The goal of the College Factual Best for Veterans Ranking is to measure the educational quality and veteran support a veteran or active duty service member will receive at a specific college, relative to all the other colleges in the United States.

Ranking Core Values

Helping veterans make better decisions on how to make the most of their hard earned educational benefits is our number one priority. The following are the beliefs that lie at the root of our ranking philosophy.

Methodology Overview

Our team of data scientists uses open government data at the major + degree level combined with school-wide indicators to assess each specific program a school offers and rank them accordingly.

We then aggregate those details rankings up, weighted by the number of students, to get broader assessments of a school overall. In this way, or a school to be given a good ‘overall’ Best Colleges Ranking it must be excellent at whatever it chooses to focus on.

Veteran Ranking Methodology

We believe that in order for a school to be a good fit for a veteran it must be supportive of them as a veteran but must also simply be a high quality school. That is why at high level our Best for Veteans Ranking is made up of two equal parts including:

A score between 0 and 1 is generated for a school for each degree level, major and place cohort combination and then multiplied together for the final score. Therefore a school must excel in both of these dimensions in order to score in the top 15% of all schools and receive an award from us.

Veterans often find themselves having enrolled in a school with questionable accreditation credentials and graduating with a degree that doesn’t lead to a well paying job. Our Best Colleges Ranking include key compenents that ensure schools must be well accredited and achieve excellent outcomes for their students. Please read our Best Colleges Ranking Methodology for more information about the many factors that go into that calculation.

Veteran Ranking Factors

As for the veteran-specific component of this ranking we calculate 17 different factors the we believe are of valuable to a veteran considering a school to enroll in. These factors are distributed among 6 similarly weighted categories outlined below:

IndicatorDescriptionFactor Highlights
Veteran AffordabilityTo what extent do veteran eduction benefits like the GI Bill cover the costs to attend a school?Tuition vs. GI Bill Benefits, Cost of Living vs. Housing Allowance, Yellow Ribbon
Veteran PopulationDoes the school have a robust veteran community of students?Overall Veteran Students, GI Bill Recipients, ROTC
Veteran PoliciesHas the school made committments to support veterans via its policies?Principles of Excellence, DOD MOU, SOC Consortium, 8 Keys
Veteran FlexibilityDoes the school make it easy for veterans to enroll, attend and graduate?Credit for Military Training, Online Class Offerings, Accepts GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility
Veteran SupportAre there dedicated groups and resources on campus to support veterans?Veteran Student Group, Dedicated Veteran Contacts
Veteran SatisfactionHas this school received complaints from students or been flagged by the DOD or VA?Vet Complaints, Caution Flags

Veteran Affordability

The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides some generous education benefits, but that doesn’t mean it covers the full cost of all colleges. Cost is an important consideration to veterans and their families, so we look at a number of factors to help determine how affordable a college is to a veteran. We differ considerably from other rankings in our calculations in that we try to calculate the actual cost to veterans after not just GI Bill benefits, but also considering residency status, full/part time status and yellow ribbon benefits. Furthermore, we look not just at whether or not a college falls above or below the benefit cap/maximum but instead look at how much they fall above or below it as a school that costs less then the allowable benefits is good for a veteran that may not be eligible for 100% GI Bill benefits.

Veteran Tuition and Fees Covered?

We calculate the percentage of tuition and fees that are covered by both basic GI Bill Benefits as well as Yellow Ribbon Program benefits. We do this for both in-state and out-of-state students. For out-of-state students we factor in whether or not the school is a public college in a state that allows non-resident veterans to pay in-state tuition.

Active Duty Tuition Covered?

We calculate the percentage of the per credit cost at the college that is covered by the active duty Tuition Assistance program (TA) cap for both in-state and out-of-state (non-resident) students. For out-of-state students we factor in whether or not the school is a public college in a state that allows non-resident veterans to pay in-state tuition.

Veteran Population

A college with a very small veteran population is not likely to invest as much in serving that group. As the size of the veteran population at a college increases, the amount of resources and services available to veterans tends to also increase. A large veteran population also increases the odds that faculty members will be familiar with dealing with veterans and that, as a veteran, you will be surrounded by like minded students you can better relate to.

Size of Veteran Population

To determine this we look at the number of GI Bill recipients at the school as reported by the VA. While this number does not include all active duty service members that may be attending a school using non GI Bill benefits like TAP, it does include most veterans, which is the focus of this ranking. That is why we call this the size of the veteran population, not the size of the military population.

Percentae of Veteran Population

What percentage of the school is made up of veterans (GI Bill recipients). The larger the percentage the more that school focuses on serving veterans. This metric also helps to make sure that schools with smaller overall populations that do focus on serving veterans get credit (something that would not occur if only the raw number of veterans at a school were considered).

Existence of ROTC

Having a ROTC presence on campus is small sign that a college is military friendly and that there will be greater acceptance and understanding of current and former service members on campus.

Veteran Policies

There are several government agencies that have published guidelines on how colleges can better serve our current and former military personnel. Colleges may sign a document committing them to adopt these recommended policies to support our veterans and active duty service members. With adoption of any one of these policies usually comes a large collection of policies to help veterans succeed, ranging from generous acceptance of credits from prior education or life experiences to fair payment and withdrawal policies.

Membership in each of the organizations below earns a college points toward our ranking:

A college that has committed to following the standards set forth by the above organizations has committed to better serving members of our military. If you are a student at a college that has claimed to follow these standards and doesn’t, we encourage you to submit a complaint to the VA GI Bill Feedback System for veterans or to the DOD Postsecondary Education Complaint System for active duty service members.

Veteran Flexibility

Credit for Military Training

Whether or not a school is likely to award credit for the training a veteran received in the military is an important element in choosing a school. To determine whether or not a school does this, we look to see whether or not they have either committed to following ACE recommendations for accepting credit or the VA has indicated that they accept credit for military training.

Accepts G.I. Bill Certificate of Eligibility

A school may elect to automatically admit a student if they can present their G.I. Bill Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This is nice for veterans who often have a challenging time seeking admission to many institutions due challenges around having of finding non-expired test scores and other academic records when enrolling year’s after they last attended school.

Offers Online Enrollment to Veterans

Veterans have a wide range life situations when they choose to continue their education. Many are working and have families and relocating to attend the best fit school may not be an option. The ability to complete a degree online is a valuable option and so we reward schools that offer this option to veterans.

Veteran Support

Veteran Office

An office dedicated to assisting veterans is an important resource at a college and those that have one stand above those that don’t. We determine this through a combination of looking at colleges websites and referencing the VA data that identifies whether or not a school has a dedicated point of contact for veterans.

Veteran Student Organization

Having a recognized veteran student organization can be a great resource for a veteran attending a school. We award points to those that do if the VA has indicated the school has a recognized student veteran organization on campus.

VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC)

The VetSuccess On Campus (VCOC) aims to help Veterans, Servicemembers, and their qualified dependents succeed and thrive through a coordinated delivery of on-campus benefits assistance and counseling, leading to completion of their education and preparing them to enter the labor market in viable careers. Those schools that publish their VSOC Contact information per the VA receive points for this factor.

Veteran Satisfaction

G.I. Bill Feedback System Complaints

The VA GI Bill Feedback System enables veterans to submit complaints about colleges for Principles of Excellence-related issues.

Using data recently released by the VA that details the complaints lodged against each school, we took the the total number of complaints and divided that by the total number of GI Bill recipients at the school to get a relative number of the % of students complaining. This, in our opinion, is the only fair way to account for the fact that a larger school is naturally going to have a larger number of complaints.

Using this relative measure, we then award more points to colleges the lower their complaint rate is. So, the higher the complaint rate, the lower a school will rank. Schools that have zero complains earn the maximum number of points for this factor.

Heightened Cash Monitoring Status

Heightened Cash Monitoring (HCM) is a checks-and-balances process that allows the Department of Education to provide additional oversight over institutions for a number of financial or federal compliance issues.

Using data now available through the VA, we award points to schools that are NOT on heightened cash monitoring, thus decreasing the ranking of those the are.

Data Sources

The data for this ranking comes exclusively from un-biased open datasets provided by the U.S. government. The general school data comes from various datasets provided by the U.S. Department of Education, namely the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the IES.

The veteran specific factors come from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs GI Bill® Comparison Tool.

For more details, please see our Data Sources & References section.

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