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The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

How To Find Military Friendly Online Colleges

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Finding military friendly online colleges begins with knowing what factors can help you embark on a higher education experience that meets your unique needs. Whether you are active military, retired, planning to leave the military or are a military spouse, you need to find the programs, services and financial aid options that will work best for you and your family.

What Factors Should I Consider?

Flexibility. For military students, the ability to study anytime, anywhere is a must. Look for a university that offers 24/7 access to course materials, discussions, lectures, the online library and other resources so it will work with your schedule whether you're deployed overseas or working full-time in a civilian job. If you're active duty, you might also look for military-friendly policies such as deployment holds, which allow you to pause your education for the length of your deployment if need be and return when it ends.

Programs and accreditation. Next, consider what field of study you'd like to pursue and explore which schools offer specialized programs that really let you delve deeply into your area of interest. You'll want to look for an accredited online university to ensure that you receive a quality education that is up to national standards.

Transfer credit. Find out whether the university you're considering accepts transfer credits from other schools or offers credit for military, work and life experience. Some schools also work with nationally recognized testing programs such as ACE, CLEP and DSST, which could allow you to earn credit for a course by passing a test rather than taking the entire class.

Financial aid. How you plan to finance your education may play a role in your decision, so be sure to check into what military grants or other aid your chosen school may offer servicemembers, veterans and their families. Some schools offer reduced tuition rates for all servicemembers and veterans, and some provide programs specifically created to assist military spouses in funding their education as well.

Career assistance. Make sure your school of choice has resources in place to assist you with your job search and can coach you on resume writing and interview preparation so you'll be ready to move your career forward once you graduate.

Where Do I Start?

To begin researching your online educational choices, two resources offer a good starting point: the Military Friendly Schools List and Military Advanced Education's Guide to Colleges & Universities. These listings highlight universities that best serve service-members, veterans and their families in areas such as military culture, on-campus and online support services, financial aid and flexibility.

Thinking about returning to school but don't want to start from scratch? Download our Transfer Credit guide to find out how you may be able to get credit with previous college, military, or work experience.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.