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A recent report named Athens State University one of the top colleges for veterans, including a top 4 ranking in Alabama and top 10% regionally.

College Factual has ranked hundreds of universities across the country for their veteran friendliness since 2014. Athens State was first included in the 2016 rankings, and the 2020 list is their highest rank yet.

"I think it's the personalized attention we give," said Chris Latham, director of public relations at Athens State. "We give that to all students, but being a small institution, we're kind of a big family here. ... We want to make sure they are taken care of."

The university was in the top 35% nationally in 2018 for overall veteran friendliness, then top 25% in 2019. Now, for the 2020 ranking, Athens State is in the top 11%. In Alabama, they are the fourth-best on the Best Colleges for Veterans list.

The list looks at several factors that can benefit veterans, including affordability, population, policies, resources, satisfaction and overall quality. In addition to one-on-one advising, Athens State offers special recognition programs, assistance applying for the benefits and programs available to veterans and their families, and classes at Redstone Arsenal for active military members.

"It's very exciting to know that we are able to give back a little bit to veterans, since they sacrifice so much for us," said Carolyn Carthen, veterans educational assistance advisor at Athens State. "It's always a pleasure to work with them and know we have made some kind of impact or difference toward their educational goals."

Many students are considered non-traditional, meaning they took college courses several years ago but never completed a degree or are working and raising a family while also attending school. Others may have spent a significant amount of time overseas and are now trying to transition back into civilian life.

"We strive to make that transition easy for them," Carthen said. "They've always been told what to do, every single step, so a lot of times when they are picking up their college career, we do what we can to make that smooth transition."

This can include using their military experience for college credit. Lathan said many veterans qualify for a program that allows them to apply their military service and certificates to their degree.

Visit athens.edu or call 256-233-8271 for more information about the opportunities for veterans at Athens State.

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