How to Apply to Online College After the Military


applying for online college

You’ve served your country well and have decided to attain your college degree online. But where do you start? Consider the programs that might be a good fit, find a university that respects your military service, and apply online. Here are 5 steps to take to apply to an online college:

1. Narrow Your Focus

Your military training may have given you particular insight into your strengths and interests. Choose a program that aligns well with your innate abilities, your previous training, and the kind of career you want for your future. For example, if you were in the Air Force and have a pilot’s license, you might consider a degree in Aviation Management. If you found your passion in the military to be in intelligence security, there are several paths you might consider. Conduct due diligence and measure what you hope to accomplish against how a school might help you achieve your goals.

2. Choose a University that Honors Military Service

Choose a college that has experience in providing services, education, and training to members of the military and their families. From its history and reputation to its understanding of VA benefits, the school should understand the circumstances that may make your transition to a civilian career unique. National American University, for example, has served military students for more than 80 years, and offers reduced tuition, a generous transfer credit policy for previous military training, and a success team that consists of an enrollment advisor, a financial services representative, and a student advisor.

3. Fill Out the Application

Once you narrow your list down to the colleges that seem to be a good fit, go to each school’s website and click on “Apply Now.” This should give you access to an online portal where you can start and stop your application as you gather the documents you will need.

To be accepted to most programs, you will need a high school diploma or GED. And if you’ve attended college before, arrange for your official transcripts to be sent to the schools you apply to.

4. Apply for Transfer Credits

Some colleges are more generous than others when it comes to accepting credits from another institution. A few also give you credit for what you learned on a job or in the military, plus certifications or national tests that you passed. Some examples include:

  • Experiential learning through a trade, business, or professional job
  • Corporate and military training and certifications
  • Credits through national testing, including the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), and other testing sources

Once you are accepted to a school, schedule time with a registration counselor. Bring a list of past classes you took with your college transcript showing your grades, a course catalogue or an online link to it, certificates you received from training programs at work or in the military, and scores from the CLEP, DSST and other national exams. The counselor should be able to give you a clear understanding of what credits will be accepted for transfer. Since colleges charge per credit, the more you can transfer, the less your education will cost. And the less time it will take you to graduate from your program.

5. Apply for Financial Aid

As a member of the military, you may be eligible for specific financial assistance from programs such as the GI Bill and other funding sources such as the Yellow Ribbon Program and Military Tuition Assistance. Ask if you will be charged for instructional materials, course fees, textbooks, labs, examination proctoring or technology fees, and if so, are there discounts for those? If your tuition is not all covered by military service funding, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form. FAFSA may help you access scholarships, grants, and loans. Your school will also use information from FAFSA to help decide who receive scholarships they may offer. And if you’re currently working, don’t forget to take advantage of employer tuition benefits. Many companies provide tuition reimbursement to incentivize their workers to advance within the organization.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at Education and Training Home (

Final Steps

Once you have applied and been accepted, it’s time to enroll and start! Most universities have academic advisors who can help you select classes and guide you every step of the way.

National American University has more than 20 years’ experience providing online learning to members of the military and their families. We offer a variety of online certifications, degrees, and programs, as well as discounts on tuition for Veterans. And your military training may mean you’re eligible for transfer credits so you can complete your degree more quickly and at a lower cost. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or fill out the form to request more information.


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