California has more veterans than any other state in America. There are also many options for military-friendly colleges in California that offer various military benefits. If you are a veteran or military member considering going to college in the Golden State, this article can help.
The best military colleges in California offer top-quality education and plentiful financial aid opportunities. This article provides an overview of military benefits available for veterans, military members, and their families. Our list of the best colleges for veterans in California also includes online programs for those who prefer distance learning.
Is It Hard to Get Into a Military-Friendly College in California?
No, it is not hard to get into a military-friendly college in California. Along with high-ranking four-year universities and colleges, the state also has many reputable technical colleges that offer funding for military students. Getting into top degree programs isn’t that difficult as long as applicants meet the university’s requirements.
Funding for Military-Friendly Schools in California
Veterans, military members, and their families have funding opportunities via the US Department of Veterans Affairs for the 1,024 military-friendly schools in California. Major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and others have multiple schools that accept funding for military students.
The military community can apply for state and federal government military education benefits, including the GI Bill, to use at these schools in California. The following programs currently offer benefits for veterans’ education in California.
- The California Department of Veterans Affairs, known as CalVet, offers veteran education benefits via the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education (CSAAVE) for military students, veterans, and dependents.
- The California Community Colleges (CCA) program makes education for veterans and survivors accessible at community colleges in the state by paying for up to 100 percent of the cost.
- The California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNGEAAP) offers a state grant that provides financial assistance covering up to 100 percent of the cost of tuition to members of the California Army or Air National Guard or State Guard.
- The College Fee Waiver allows veterans’ dependents to get a mandatory tuition and fee waiver at any State of California Community College, University of California, or California State University school.
- The Montgomery GI Bill, Chapter 30, offers up to 36 months of educational benefits that are applicable for certificate programs, degree programs, apprenticeships, correspondence courses, and flight-training programs.
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33, offers extensive education and housing financial aid opportunities under veterans’ educational assistance programs.
- California State University offers financial assistance to active-duty military, military veterans, and their families to help them meet their personal and professional goals.
- The Non-Resident College Fee Waiver program waives non-resident fees for veteran and military students attending California’s state-based community college and university system schools. They include the University of California and California State University campuses.
Is College Free in California if You Are a Veteran?
Yes, college can be free in California if you are a veteran and qualify for military benefits that provide full tuition coverage, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. California’s military education benefits such as CNGEAAP, CCA, and CSAAVE also offer up to 100 percent financial assistance to eligible students.
Is California a Good Place to Go to a Military-Friendly College?
Yes, California is a good place to go to a military-friendly college. The state is home to over 1,000 military-friendly schools, many of which receive high rankings from the US’ top university rankings lists. Along with veterans’ benefits programs, these schools also offer ample financial aid and scholarships for military spouses and dependents. Plus, California’s military benefits include financial aid that covers up to 100 percent of tuition and fees for military members, veterans, and their families.
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Factors Vets Need to Consider When Choosing a School in California
- Degree programs. It is important to choose a degree program that will help you gain academic and professional success. California is home to several top colleges with excellent degree programs. For example, California State University-Los Angeles ranks number 22 on US News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs list, and it also offers extensive education benefits for military students.
- Military and veterans resource center. Choosing a school with ample resources and opportunities for veterans and military personnel will help ensure that you get the most out of your college experience. If a designated resource center isn’t available, look for student organizations, financial aid departments, and career-placement services that specifically serve military students.
- Financial funding. Getting a college education is expensive, and military benefits don’t always cover all education costs. It is important to choose a school that offers additional financing opportunities. University of California-Berkeley and other UC schools and California State University schools offer many scholarships for military students.
- Accreditation and reputation. Make sure that the university or community college not only offers military benefits but also is accredited by a recognized accrediting body and has a solid reputation. Accredited schools with a good reputation will strengthen your resume and boost your job opportunities.
- Graduation and job placement rates. A school’s high graduation rate is a good sign that you will also be successful in your studies and earn your degree or certificate. Also consider the job placement rate of your specific program to increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Best Military-Friendly Colleges in California at a Glance
|College||# of Students Earning Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits||Average Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits Awarded|
|Abraham Lincoln University||Undergrad: 6
|Academy of Art University||Undergrad: 937
|Alliant International University||Undergrad: 15
|California State University- Bakersfield||Undergrad: 89
|National University||Undergrad: 3,073
|San Diego State University||Undergrad: 809
|San Jose State University||Undergrad: 260
|University of San Diego||Undergrad: 217
|University of San Francisco||Undergrad: 134
|University of Southern California||Undergrad: 158
Best Colleges for Veterans in California
How Does the Post-9/11 GI Bill Work?
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a federal educational assistance program for military personnel who have served after September 10, 2001. It works by offering up to 36 months of tuition assistance to active-duty military students. This funding can be used for monthly rent, tuition and fees, and books. Your total funding is dependent on the amount of time you have spent on active duty.
Who Is Eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
Military students who have served at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001 are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Military personnel who have served 30 consecutive days of active duty service but got discharged due to a duty-related disability are also eligible.
This bill’s assistance is also applicable to students who received a Purple Heart post 9/11 and dependents of qualified veterans or service members. Reserves who lost their educational financial aid because of the Reserve Educational Assistance Program can also apply for the bill’s benefits.
What Does the GI Bill Cover?
The GI Bill covers tuition, fees, housing, and book expenses for up to 36 months for qualified veterans, military students, and their dependents. You can use your GI Bill benefits to pay for coding bootcamp, career colleges, courses, degree programs, and other California-approved programs. Some eligible students can also apply for up to 48 months of funding.
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- Eligible military students can use the funding through either the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Active Duty Bill.
- The amount of your monthly housing allowance is dependent on the format and schedule of your program. Part-time students might receive a reduced monthly allowance, and online students will receive an allowance that is half the national average.
- The GI Bill benefits will expire in 15 years for those whose service ended before January 1, 2013. If your service ended after this date, your benefits don’t expire and are protected under the Harry W Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the Forever GI Bill.
- You can apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program if you need additional assistance after receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill funding.
- You can use your GI Bill for tuition assistance for undergraduate and graduate programs, vocational schools, veterans technology courses, VA apprenticeship programs, flight training, and test fees.
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How to Apply for the GI Bill and Related Benefits
Below are the steps to apply for the GI Bill and related benefits. You can get in touch with the CalVet department or your school’s veterans resource services department to get started. These steps might vary depending on your military status and department.
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility Status
The first step in applying for veteran educational benefits through the GI Bill is to find out whether you are eligible for the benefits. Qualified veterans, active-duty military service members, students who received a Purple Heart, reserve military personnel, and dependents are eligible for GI Bill benefits.
Step 2: Gather the Required Documents
The second step is to gather all the necessary documentation for the application. You will need to submit your social security number, military background, education history, bank account information, and college program details.
Step 3: Start Your Application
The next step is to start your application. Depending on your school and program requirements, you can start a new application or edit your application to add an updated school. You can also apply for a Post-9/11 GI Bill extension or the Fry Scholarship for more financial aid.
Step 4: Select Your Mode of Delivery
There are several ways to submit your application for the GI Bill. Depending on your school, you can mail it, submit it in person, or fill out an online application. It is important to consult the school’s veterans resource center to ensure that you successfully submit your application.
Step 5: Submit Your Application
The last step is to submit your application and wait for the results. It can take around 30 days for the application to be processed. Funding assistance through the program can help build pathways for veterans in tech or non-tech fields.
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What Documents Do I Need to Apply for the GI Bill?
You need several governmental and non-governmental documents to apply for the GI Bill. Specific document requirements will vary from one California school to another. Below are the most common documents required for the GI Bill application.
- Social security card
- Bank account information for direct deposit
- Military record and background information
- Information about the school or program you want to attend
- Acceptance or acknowledgment letter from your school
- Certification of discharge for active-duty members who have served 30 consecutive days
- Education history
- Application for further veterans’ assistance funding programs
Note that dependents of qualified veterans also need to submit their education, bank account, and identification documentation.
What Are the Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges in California?
The best online military-friendly colleges in California are Abraham Lincoln University, National University, and San Jose State University. San Diego State University and California State University also have robust online degree programs for members of the military. You can pursue in-demand bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree programs from any of these schools.
These are the best online military-friendly colleges in California.
- Abraham Lincoln University
- National University
- Academy of Art University
- San Jose State University
- Alliant International University
Best Online Colleges for Veterans in California
Can I Get College Credit for My Military Training?
Yes, you can get college credit for your military training and transfer credits to your degree program. Active duty service members, reserve military personnel, and veterans are eligible for applying for college credit via their military training. However, the acceptance of military training credits varies from college to college.
You can get in touch with your choice of military-friendly colleges in California to find out if they accept military training credits and how many credits are accepted. You should also inquire about the degree programs that best accommodate your military training. Using your military training for college credit will help you save time and money when earning your degree.
As a Vet, Do I Have to Meet the Same Requirements as Regular Students?
Yes, as a vet, you have to meet the same requirements as regular students. Your degree deadline, core credit requirements, and GPA requirements are the same as they are for civilian students. You can get in touch with the school’s veterans resource center to find resources that can help better accommodate your educational journey.
Applying to College: 5 Tips for Veteran Students
Below are the top five tips for veteran students who want to apply for a college education. Your application process and the educational journey will vary based on your educational and military background. Our tips can help you choose the right college program for you.
- Consider the best career trajectory for yourself. The first tip is to choose an academic program that will offer the best career trajectory for yourself. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top occupations in California are operations management, advertising, and tech management.
- Research top military-friendly schools. California is home to many military-friendly colleges. Get in touch with the school’s veterans service department to learn about all of their various veteran educational assistance benefits.
- Choose schools where you qualify for additional veteran benefits. A GI Bill sometimes isn’t enough to cover the entire tuition and housing costs. It is important to choose a school that offers additional scholarships and benefits for its military-affiliated students.
- Opt for online degrees for more flexible education. If you are interested in more affordable and flexible education, then an online degree program might be for you. There are reputable online programs in technology, nursing, education, business, and other popular fields in California.
- Submit an impressive application. This tip increases your chances of acceptance into your chosen school. Be sure to include in your application your reasons for selecting the program, your career goals, and your overall interest in the college.
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Should You Attend a Military-Friendly School in California?
Yes, you should attend a military-friendly school in California because the state is home to a wide selection of reputable military-friendly academic institutions. These schools can prepare you for a lucrative career in information technology, business management, nursing, and other in-demand fields. California’s military-friendly schools also offer up to 100 percent tuition assistance.
Military-Friendly Colleges in California FAQ
The best military-friendly colleges in California include California State University-Bakersfield, National University, San Diego State University, and University of San Diego.
California colleges offer veterans benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program, military training credit, Fry scholarships, the Montgomery GI Bill, and other educational assistance programs.
The GI Bill covers monthly housing assistance, tuition and fees, books, and other supply expenses.
State and private colleges, universities, and community colleges, plus various bootcamps and apprenticeships in California, offer education benefits for members of the military and their families. Assistance is also available for flight-training courses. Verify with your school of choice that benefits are available for veterans.
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