free online college for veterans

Besides online degree options, there are many ways for veterans to gain access to certificate programs, credentials, and knowledge online to help them in their careers.  There are easily accessible options for veterans to add targeted skills to their resume to demonstrate competencies in those areas to employers. 

Or, if going the regular career route isn’t for you, there are also options for veterans to learn about starting their own business and growing as a vetrepreneur. 

1. Use LinkedIn Learning for veterans

LinkedIn offers a free year of Premium membership to veterans. Included in that is access to LinkedIn Learning- a host of online courses on everything from accounting to web design, to marketing.

What I like about this is you can set yourself a weekly learning goal and hold yourself accountable. You can find courses for dozens of different areas and niches to help you narrow in your learning on the areas of focus you care about and which will help you. And since the learning platform is already tied in with LinkedIn, you can add completed courses to your profile. This can allow you to signal to potential employers your interest and knowledge in those areas.

2. Learning to code for veterans

There’s a lot more to gain from learning programming than just how to make things happen in the software world. Starting to learn this process and the important languages can help you start to think more logically, put your ideas into reality, and fix your own problems. 

Even having a cursory knowledge of the main programming languages can help you understand more about how to manage software applications and their designs. For project managers, non-coders working in tech, or aspiring entrepreneurs, having this baseline knowledge can help set you apart. 

Code Platoon is a non-profit focused on helping veterans and military spouses transition into the civilian workforce through teaching technical skills. They teach full web development stack, including Python (or Ruby), Django (or Rails), JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. By teaching Full-Stack, that means they provide the skills necessary to make a website look good, but also function well behind the curtains. 

They have two free online options:

Self-paced programThis is designed to teach you everything you need to know to be a junior software developer. The program of instruction is the same as their 14-week live course but done at your own pace. The main difference is that in the end, you will not receive a certificate. This doesn’t have to mean you will have a useless set of skills. Especially at smaller companies or startups, you may be able to demonstrate your skills during the interview process without an official certificate. 

Intro to codingThis is a series of videos available online with no registration needed. For people who don’t want to work directly as programmers, this is a great way to start learning the languages of the software world. If you think you may be managing coders as part of a cross-functional team, this is a way to boost your knowledge and skillset. 

3. Start a company 

Bunker Labs is an amazing organization. Focused around helping veteran entrepreneurs succeed, they host meet-ups in major cities for veterans, military spouses, and local business leaders to connect and learn from one another. I personally have been to a few of their events and what I like about them is that they offer more than just networking. Each event has a specific purpose, whether discussing a certain topic relevant to starting a company or bringing in successful entrepreneurs to share their story. (They usually have free food and beer as well.)

Through their website, they offer Launch Lab Online. This is a self-paced, gamified, online course to help you take an idea and turn it into a reality. 

I really like their course because the first part is all about WHY. It’s all about thinking about a business that you actually want to run and stick with. Time and time again, the refrain for being successful in entrepreneurship is persistence. If you aren’t passionate about your idea, then you won’t be persistent with it. 

And after thinking of WHY, the course is all about action- not just education. It’s really focused on helping turn your idea into a reality.

What Is a Military-Friendly College?

A military-friendly college helps you balance your education with your military obligations. These schools often provide additional support services designed specifically for veterans, active military personnel, and their families.

A military-friendly college might also offer additional discounts and credit for military experience.

No matter which military-friendly college you choose, confirm that the school is accredited. Accreditation makes you eligible for federal financial aid and ensures that the school you choose offers a high-quality education and a widely recognized degree.

Benefits of Online College for Military Service Members and Veterans

  • The best online colleges for veterans let you balance school with military obligations, a full-time job, or other responsibilities.
  • Military-friendly online colleges offer many resources to help you readapt to civilian life, such as assistance with transitioning to civilian life and mental health support.
  • Many military-friendly colleges offer clubs and organizations for student veterans.
  • Getting an online degree as a veteran or active military service member can expand your job opportunities and may lead to professional advancement and salary increases.

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Undergraduate military students received an average of $15,100 in education benefits (including housing costs) in 2015-2016, according to NCES.

How to Pay for Military-Friendly Online Colleges

The GI Bill® can help veterans pay for online programs. Note that you can use only one of these programs, even if you qualify for more than one.

Montgomery GI Bill

You may qualify for one of two Montgomery GI Bill programs depending on your military status.

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty program provides military service members with up to three years of education and training benefits. After their release from active duty, veterans can receive these benefits for 10 years. You must have served for at least two years to qualify.

The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve program provides up to three years of education benefits to current members of the Selected Reserve, including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Army National Guard, and Coast Guard Reserve.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers education benefits to military personnel who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001. This bill also offers benefits to children of military personnel who died in the line of duty after that date.

Benefits include:

  • Full tuition and fees coverage at public in-state colleges (partial coverage at private and foreign schools)
  • A monthly housing allowance
  • Money for books and supplies

The Yellow Ribbon Program provides additional financial support to help you cover the cost of out-of-state, private, and graduate schools.

Scholarships for Veterans and Military Service Members

Veterans and military personnel can apply for scholarships to help them pay for college. Some scholarships even help veterans pay for their children’s college education.

AFCEA War Veterans Scholarships

  • Eligibility: Active-duty service members and veterans who served in one of the Overseas Contingency Operations may apply. You must be a sophomore or junior in a C4I-related field — many undergraduate STEM programs fall under this category. You must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Amount: $2,500

AMVETS Scholarships

  • Eligibility: AMVETS offers several scholarships for military personnel and veterans. You must demonstrate financial need and submit proof of enrollment or acceptance to an approved program.
  • Amount: $4,000

Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program

  • Eligibility: Retired and active-duty women soldiers in the Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard, as well as their direct descendants, may apply. Applicants must meet minimum GPA requirements depending on their level of study and demonstrate financial need.
  • Amount: $1,000-$3,000

Resources for Veterans and Military Personnel

GI Bill Comparison Tool

This government resource helps you better understand your GI Bill benefits. Students can compare how they can use their benefits at different schools and for different employers.

Military OneSource

This Department of Defense-funded website provides resources and support for tax services, relocation, deployment, and spouse employment, in addition to offering webinars and online training.


This site connects active-duty service members and veterans with corporate jobs and recruiters.

VFW Student Veteran Support

This organization offers scholarships, grants, and fellowships for veterans, as well as providing advocacy and mental health resources.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online College for Military Personnel and Veterans

question-mark-circle icon Can you do online college in the military?

Yes, military-friendly online colleges and degree programs are designed to suit the unique schedules of active military personnel. Even those who are deployed can work toward their certificates or degrees through online classes that fit their lifestyles and everyday commitments.

question-mark-circle icon What is the best online college for veterans and service members?

The best online college for you will depend on your schedule and goals. When choosing a military-friendly online college, take into account your desired degree and course of study, the program cost, any available financial benefits, and the flexibility of the program based on your military obligations. You can also consider programs that award credits for military service.

question-mark-circle icon What college costs will the military pay for?

The GI Bill can cover tuition, fees, books, and supplies. It also offers a monthly housing allowance. Note that the exact amounts and coverage will depend on which GI Bill you qualify for. You can only receive the benefits of one GI Bill, even if you qualify for several.

question-mark-circle icon Are there any free online colleges for veterans?

No, there are no free online colleges for veterans. But with the help of military education benefits, the cost to attend online college may be free or very little, depending on the school you choose and your military experience.

In addition, some states — such as Florida, Alabama, New York — also offer college tuition waivers and scholarships for veterans. Some of these colleges have online degree programs.

question-mark-circle icon Where do most veterans go to college?

Though veterans can attend college anywhere, most veterans who receive education benefits attend traditional on-campus programs, according to NCES. Additionally, a higher percentage of veterans attend for-profit schools than non-military students.

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