The University of Arizona is one of the nation's best universities for service members, veterans and their families, according to the Military Times.
UArizona finished No. 18 overall and No. 15 among public universities in the latest edition of the Military Times' "Best for Vets: Colleges 2020" ranking, released Monday. This is the university's highest mark in the five-year history of this ranking and a 34-spot increase from its overall position last year.
"The University of Arizona is very proud to provide the best educational opportunities and support services for all military members," said UArizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Our military and veteran students are a crucial part of the university community and their commitment to service is an inspiration and an example of our very best as a global land-grant institution. I am very glad to see this ranking reflect our commitment to ensuring our service members and veterans have the resources they need to thrive."
The university has taken significant steps to improve access and increase research opportunities for all service members and their families – including students in the National Guard and the Reserves.
"We take a holistic approach in working with our military- and veteran-connected student population," said Cody Nicholls, assistant dean of students for military and veteran engagement. "We first focus on health care, employment and housing, as well as ensuring that our population has the latest information on the degree options that can help them reach their desired careers."
The total cost for active-duty military undergraduate students using U.S. Department of Defense tuition assistance was recently set at $250 per credit hour at UArizona. The Department of Defense covers tuition costs for active-duty undergraduate students up to $250 per credit hour, which means many of these students are eligible to attend UArizona without paying tuition. This plan also includes students in the National Guard and the Reserves.
Military personnel are eligible to receive this benefit when enrolling in undergraduate programs at the main campus, through Arizona Online or at any of the university's statewide distance locations.
In addition, military veterans interested in studying STEM fields can take advantage of a new program that supports veterans and increases their participation in research. The program is an expansion of the highly successful Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholars program, which provides tutoring, mentoring and specialized coursework for UArizona students.
The university also received the Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award from the Military and Veterans Division of the American Society for Engineering Education earlier this year. The award, given to only three institutions, recognizes the university's outstanding support of veterans who are transitioning out of the military and into engineering careers.
The university received a four-star rating – the Military Times' highest mark – in its GI Bill gap coverage, which rates how well schools reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket tuition costs for post-9/11 GI Bill users.
The Military Times also highlighted UArizona's two centers for Veterans Education and Transition Services, its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission and its 79% retention rate for military students.
At the James E. Rogers College of Law Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic, students assist service members and veterans with legal issues, including representing them before the local veterans court on administrative cases and policy issues related to military service.
Only 134 four-year colleges and universities qualified for inclusion in this year's Military Times ranking.
"To create the rankings, we evaluated colleges' survey responses based on what veterans have told us is important to them, as well as on our own editorial judgment," said George Altman, the Military Times editor who oversees the rankings. "While the value of each section was comparable, university culture and student support carried the greatest weight in our evaluation, while academic outcomes/quality and cost and financial aid carried the least weight."
The Military Times' annual 150-question "Best for Vets" survey asks colleges and universities to document an array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties. Survey recipients also are asked to describe a variety of aspects relating to veterans' culture on a campus.
Institutions are evaluated in five categories: university culture, student support, academic policies, academic outcomes/quality, and cost and financial aid.
The Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Data Center, data from the federal College Scorecard and the federal Cohort Default Rate Database.