The University of South Carolina Aiken was recently ranked one of the best colleges in the South for catering to veterans, according to a poll conducted by US News and World Report.
In its first list ranking colleges across the country, the magazine’s Best Colleges for Veterans ranked USC Aiken second out of the region’s top 17 colleges.
According to the magazine, schools must be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium (SOC) to be eligible for the list.
Colleges on the list – released on Nov. 11, Veterans Day – were rated on veteran graduation rates, faculty resources, reputation and other markers of academic quality in the 2014 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges.
“USC Aiken is thrilled to be included in this ranking,” said Robert Murphy, the director of Veteran and Military Student Affairs at USC Aiken. “We have a passion at the university for being a veteran and military student advocate, with a staff that focuses on helping with information on benefits, opportunities, networking and best practices for a successful military transition from the military to the community.”
In total, there were 234 ranked schools across all 10 U.S. News ranking categories: National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities (North, South, Midwest and West) and Regional Colleges (North, South, Midwest and West).
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 113 veterans received $1.7 million from GI Bills at USC Aiken from 2009 to 2012.
The ranking also comes after the university opened a Veteran Student Success Center in April to help veterans find the resources they need to battle health and wellness issues, get an education and start a career through the assistance of the Augusta Warrior Project and Aiken Technical College, officials said.
Brian Kelly, the editor and chief content officer for U.S. News, said those efforts factored into USC Aiken’s ranking.
“While all prospective students seek a good education from a reputable institution, our military veterans can take advantage of expanded educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” he said. “We developed these rankings to help them find a top-quality institution that also offers federal benefits that ease the burden of applying, paying for and completing a college degree.”