UArizona is No. 3 in the West in Best for Vets Ranking

Military Times

The University of Arizona continues to climb the ranks as one of the nation's best universities for service members, veterans and their families.

UArizona rose to No. 14 overall, No. 12 among public universities and No. 3 in the West in the latest edition of the Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2021 ranking, released Wednesday. This is the university's highest mark in this ranking and represents a four-spot increase from its overall position in 2019 and a 38-spot leap from 2018. Military Times did not release an updated ranking last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"At the University of Arizona we are extremely proud to provide exceptional educational opportunities and support services for military-connected students and their families," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Their commitment to service inspires us, and our year-by-year improvement in this ranking reflects our ongoing work to ensure these incredible students have everything they need to succeed."

The university continues to take meaningful steps to improve access and increase research opportunities for all service members and their families – including students in the National Guard and the Reserves. The university's Veterans Education and Transition Services seeks to provide a comprehensive set of services to ensure students transition successfully to the university environment, graduate and obtain meaningful employment.

"All of our services are geared toward benefiting all military-connected students," said Bruce Grissom, director of the Veterans Education and Transitions Services, or VETS, program. "We see veterans from many eras, all branches of service and countless job specialties. Our mission is to ensure that every student successfully navigates the transition to a campus environment."

In 2018, the total cost for active-duty military undergraduate students using U.S. Department of Defense tuition assistance was 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. The university offers a variety of military aid options as well.

"At the University of Arizona, we take great pride in our ability to provide support for our entire military- and veteran-connected student population, both on and off campus," said Cody Nicholls, research development associate for national security programs at UArizona. "From providing academic support and research opportunities to health care and career support, we take a comprehensive approach in the services we offer." Nicholls – who previously served as UArizona assistant dean of students, military and veteran engagement – was instrumental in developing the university's responses to Military Times' annual survey alongside University Analytics and Institutional Research and the Office of the Registrar.

Academic, Research Opportunities

UArizona has developed several military-specific academic and research opportunities. Some recent highlights include:

  • EMPOWER STEM, funded by $748,000 from the Office of Naval Research, creates connections between Navy scientists and UArizona students and faculty. The program gives students opportunities to learn about the engineering behind the latest technologies in the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy. In return, government labs gain access to a well-prepared, diverse pool of potential employees.
  • Military veterans interested in STEM fields can take advantage of a program that supports veterans and increases their participation in research. This veteran-specific program is an expansion of the successful Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholars program, which provides tutoring, mentoring and specialized coursework for UArizona students.
  • The university received the Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award from the Military and Veterans Division of the American Society for Engineering Education in 2019. 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.
  • At the James E. Rogers College of Law's 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.

This year, 366 four-year colleges and universities qualified for inclusion in the Military Times ranking.

Military Times' annual Best for Vets survey asks colleges and universities to document services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties. Survey respondents also are asked to describe a variety of aspects relating to the veterans culture on a campus.

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