St. Thomas’ commitment to veteran students is gaining national accolades at the highest level.
For the first time, the university received the Military Friendly School Gold Award. St. Thomas has been recognized as a Military Friendly School for five years in a row.
The increased awareness is making a difference among veterans.
“[When looking at schools], veteran students do their research. They have the GI Bill and want to use it wisely,” Director of Veterans Services Norman Ferguson Jr. said. “We have been told in the past that some of the reasons veterans come here is because we are a Military Friendly School; we’re showing that we are committed to this population.”
Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2022-23 survey, with 665 earning special awards for going above the standard.
The 2022-23 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May and October issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at militaryfriendly.com.
“Military Friendly is committed to transparency and providing consistent data-driven standards in our designation process,” said Kayla Lopez, national director of military partnerships for Military Friendly. “Our standards provide a benchmark that promotes positive outcomes and support services that better the educational landscape and provide opportunity for the military community. This creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges to evolve and invest in their programs consistently. Schools who achieve awards designation show true commitment in their efforts, going over and above that standard.”
Methodology, criteria and weightings were determined by recruitment marketing company Viqtory with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.
“We’re getting recognized annually as a university that’s willing and equipped to serve veterans,” Ferguson said. “Thanks to St. Thomas faculty, staff and administration for positively affecting this particular population.”
St. Thomas received the Military Friendly Bronze Award in 2020-21. The university also has ranked in the top 100 schools on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges for Veterans list for three years in a row, moving up to No. 82 from No. 93 last year.
St. Thomas also landed on U.S. Veterans Magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Schools” list for the first time. In addition, the university recently debuted at No. 103 on the Military Times “Best for Vets” list, a comprehensive ranking of schools for military service members and veterans.
To learn more about the ways in which St. Thomas is honoring veteran students, visit the St. Thomas Veterans Resources website.
Justin Amaker ’22 contributed to this article.