Best Colleges for Military Dependents

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: March 28, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Find your perfect college degree

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

For the unsung heroes of our nation, pursuing higher education can feel like a complex puzzle. Not every college is created equal, and it can be tough to find a degree that’s affordable and helps you meet your goals. 

Fortunately, some have tailored their support structures and financial aid to provide a helpful foundation for success. The best colleges for military dependents can help you meet your dreams – while recognizing the sacrifices your family has made for our country.

Best Colleges for Military Dependents

If you’re a military dependent, you might already know that the GI Bill can help you pay for college. Since 1944, this program has helped military dependents pay for college (in some cases, covering all of their expenses).

A military hugging his family

You can use your GI Bill benefits at most schools. However, it’s not just compatibility with this bill that you’ll want to consider in your search. It’s also about the campus culture, programs to major in, and available programs you need to consider. The schools below are entirely great choices for these (and many other) reasons. 

Pace University

Pace University is well-known for its strong ties to the city and a commitment to preparing students to succeed in a wide variety of professional fields. 

This private university, with main campuses located in New York City and neighboring Westchester County, Pace offers an invaluable urban educational experience coupled with a rich suburban community that understands the nuances of military life.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

Drexel University

With its renowned “co-op” program at the center of its unique student experience, Drexel University has a curriculum that combines rigorous academics with hands-on, relevant experience. 

Located in Philadelphia, Drexel stands as a beacon for innovation in a wide range of technical and creative fields.

College Highlights:

A man standing behind an army bag and shoes

Unique Features:

American Public University

Geared specifically towards online learners, American Public University is an ideal choice for military dependents who require flexibility without sacrificing academic rigor. 

Recognized for its commitment to online excellence, APU provides unique programs to meet the needs of military families.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (USC) is a bastion of academia and culture, located in the heart of Los Angeles. With a strong emphasis on innovation and collaborative learning, USC offers an environment where military dependents can thrive both academically and entrepreneurially.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

A military woman in her uniform

Liberty University

Liberty University stands among the largest Christian universities globally, offering over 700 programs of study. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, the campus boasts a sprawling rural setting and a strong community ethos that resonates with military families looking for a nurturing environment.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

University of South Florida 

University of South Florida (USF) is a preeminent research university located in Tampa, Florida, noted for breakthroughs in medicine and technology. With its highly international and service-oriented environment, USF welcomes military dependents to engage and flourish.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

Franklin University

Cornerstone to the career success of its students, Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, intertwines applied learning with a focus on market-relevant programs. Franklin offers a conducive learning environment for the diverse perspectives that military dependents bring to the table.

A male student reading a book at a library

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

Keiser University 

Keiser University is Florida’s second-largest, not-for-profit, private university, offering career-oriented programs on 21 campuses and online. With a focus on the integration of academics and real-life work experience, Keiser provides extensive resources for military dependents.

College Highlights:

Unique Features:

Key Factors Influencing Your Decision

When it comes to deciding on the best college for military dependents, you need to consider a variety of factors that will directly impact your educational experience and long-term success.

An old military paying respect

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Military Dependents Get Free College?

While free college for military dependents isn’t a blanket policy, there are numerous programs and benefits available that can greatly reduce the cost of education, if not fully cover it. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) Program, and tuition assistance through various branches of the military offer substantial financial support to eligible dependents.

Does the Military Pay for College for My Child?

Depending on eligibility and the specific branch of service, the military may cover some of the education costs for dependents through programs like the GI Bill, tuition assistance, and scholarships.

What Are the Most Military-Friendly Colleges?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the term “military-friendly” can encompass various aspects of support and commitment. Both private and public institutions have been recognized for their dedication to serving military students. 


From the bustling campuses of major cities to the serene settings of the countryside, the institutions highlighted in our list of the best colleges for military dependents provide the support, understanding, and dedication that military families deserve. Thank you for your service!