KALAMAZOO—For the fourth consecutive year, Western Michigan University has been named one of nation's best institutions for military veterans pursuing higher education.
In a Veterans Day release of its latest assessment, Military Times EDGE magazine has placed WMU on its 2014 "Best for Vets" list of colleges and universities. With a ranking of No. 80 among the schools rated, WMU is the only Michigan school to have appeared on all four years of the publication's annual list of the top colleges in the United States. This year, the University of Michigan joins WMU on the list, making its debut at No. 51.
In announcing the ranking that includes 86 four-year schools, 20 online entities and 14 two-year schools, the editorial group comprised of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times noted that this year's assessment was driven by a focus on academic rigor in its analysis of each school's complete services for veterans.
"As with all of the Best for Vets rankings, Best for Vets: Colleges is an editorially independent news project that evaluates the many factors that make an institution a good fit for military veterans," said Amanda Miller, editor of Military Times EDGE, in announcing this year's list.
The rankings factored in service member enrollment, percentage of tuition covered by the GI Bill, and availability of specific programs to help service members. This year's extensive evaluation process also factored in statistics commonly used to track student success and academic quality, including student loan default rates, retention rates, graduation rates and student-faculty ratio.
WMU has the largest number of veteran students of any of Michigan's public universities and has offered in-state tuition status to veterans since 2007 and veterans' dependents since 2008. In 2012, WMU and its two partner community colleges, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Kellogg Community College, became home to a VetSuccess on Campus program for southwest Michigan. The designation, which was the first such Veterans Administration program named in Michigan, allows veterans to tap a wide array of services.