Local city ranks sixth best place for veterans pursuing higher education

Posted at 1:09 PM, Nov 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-05 14:09:44-05

USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes has ranked a Central Texas city among the best places in the nation for veterans pursuing higher education opportunities.

The 2015 “Best Places for Veterans” education list identifies U.S. metro areas that offer higher education opportunities for veterans seeking to leverage their education benefits. The full education list includes:

  1. Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  2. Lynchburg, Va.
  3. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  4. College Station, Texas
  5. St. Louis
  6. Killeen, Texas
  7. Syracuse, N.Y.
  8. Greenville, N.C.
  9. Salt Lake City
  10. Columbia, S.C.

“Higher education is one avenue separating service members are encouraged to consider through the military’s Transition Assistance Program, and early planning can help them succeed,” said Eric Engquist, an assistant vice president at USAA and Army veteran. “This list, along with USAA’s other transition resources such as the military separation checklist and assessment tool, can help separating service members map out their financial plan well in advance of transition.”

The variables for the Education list included:

  • Percentage of Schools with VA VetSuccess on Campus counselors
  • G.I. Bill Enrollment Per Capita
  • Percentage Post-9/11 Yellow Ribbon Recipients
  • U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges for Veterans”
  • Graduation Rate
  • Loan Debt
  • Presence of Colleges
  • Veteran Unemployment
  • Health Resources

Each variable was weighted and each metro area was then ranked based on its total points for all variables. Metro areas with the following attributes were excluded from the list: unemployment rate more than 1 percent above the 2014 national average, property and personal crime in the top five percentile and median cost of living more than 20 percent above the national average. More information about this year’s criteria can be found at

“Navigation of available benefits, services, and opportunities—including education—has been cited as one of veterans’ greatest challenges when exiting the military,” said Nicholas J. Armstrong, PhD, senior director of research and policy at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. “This list helps cut through all the noise to identify areas where veterans and their families have the greatest chance for success both in higher education and beyond.”

USAA and Hiring Our Heroes also commissioned lists of the top metro areas for veterans seeking higher education opportunities and careers that align with military skills sets. Visit to see all of the lists.