CTC among Best for Vets colleges

CTC among Best for Vets colleges

by Bruce Vasbinder
Central Texas College

For the fifth consecutive year, Central Texas College (CTC) was named to the Military Times list of best colleges for military veterans. In its recently released Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings, CTC was third in the category of online and non-traditional schools. Last year CTC was seventh.  The selection was based on the primary criteria of academic accreditation, whether the school has a central veterans’ office and staff knowledge on veterans’ issues. In addition Military Times factored in veteran and military students’ success rates.

The survey-based Best for Vets: Colleges requires schools to meticulously document a tremendous array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on a campus. “We factor in what is the most detailed school-by-school data on veteran students’ academic success anywhere, including graduation, retention, persistence and course completion rates,” said Amanda Miller, editor of Bets for Vets. “Two years ago, only 11 percent of the hundreds of schools surveyed could provide that level of detail. This year, that figure is up to 45 percent. By recognizing only the schools that do the most, we believe we’re helping to raise the bar in veteran student services.”

At the time of the survey in spring 2014, CTC reported a military enrollment of 27,584 which represents an unduplicated 12-month headcount for the 2013-14 academic year. CTC also reported a graduation rate of 14 percent. 

Several hundred schools participated in this year's survey, filling out a detailed questionnaire with more than100 questions delving into the issues most crucial to student vets. CTC was cited for its cost - CTC’s credit-per-hour rate is below the established tuition assistance cap of $250; and being under the G.I. Bill cap - full out-of-state tuition for all programs is lower than the nationwide cap of $17,500 per school year.

CTC was also recognized for having a central office designated for handling veterans’ issues, accepting ACE credits, granting some credits for military training recommended by the American Council on Education and for its staff and academic support.

In addition, CTC is an original partner in the College Credit for Heroes program which offers college credit to military veterans for their military training and experience. CTC was also named the first Purple Heart College in Texas earlier this year. In 2013, CTC was designated a Yellow Ribbon School  - a program designed to help students avoid paying out-of-pocket for tuition and fees associated with education programs by allowing approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Also that year, CTC opened a VetSuccess Center on its central campus as part of the Department of Veterans Administration’s Vet Success on Campus program.

CTC, which had been previously included on the Military Times’ list of most popular school by active-duty soldiers who use tuition assistance to pay for their higher education, is one of the largest distance learning providers currently offering 21 degree plans and 21 certificate programs which can be completed solely online. Course offerings include hybrid/blended classes as well as classes through multimedia sources such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), CDs and secure digital (SD) cards.

CTC has also been consistently listed in the top 15 percent of the G.I. Jobs list of military-friendly schools named to the list of top military-friendly schools.

Earlier this year, CTC entered a partnership with Microsoft Software and Systems Academy to offer a program at the CTC Fort Hood campus designed to teach transitioning soldiers the fundamental aspects of information technology (IT), software testing and development which will enable them to find employment in the IT field at the end of their military service. Three classes of soldiers have graduated the program since the its initial cohort in the spring.

Best for Vets provides servicemen and women a gauge by which to judge whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them. The rankings factored in service member enrollment, percentage of tuition covered by the GI Bill and availability of specific programs to help service members. The 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.

The full Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings can be found at www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2015.

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