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USAA and Hiring Our Heroes Announce Best Places for Veterans Seeking Higher Education

November 5, 2015

USAA and Hiring Our Heroes Announce Best Places for Veterans Seeking Higher Education

List identifies Syracuse, N.Y., as the seventh best place in the nation for veterans pursuing higher education opportunities

iStock_000018465970LargeSyracuse, N.Y., is the seventh best place in the nation for veterans pursuing higher education opportunities, according to a new study commissioned by USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes.

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.”

“Our mission is to make sure every service member leaving the military makes an informed decision about his or her next step,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes. “This list identifies the top places for those veterans who want to use their discipline and determination to pursue a college degree.”

USAA, a leading financial services provider to the military community, and Hiring Our Heroes commissioned Sperling’s BestPlaces and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to create or provide data for this list. The four organizations worked together to determine measurable variables for 401 major U.S. metropolitan areas, which are defined as one or more central cities including the surrounding county or counties. 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 http://www.usaa.com/bestplaces

“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 usaa.com/bestplaces to see all of the lists.

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