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USM Earns Lofty Ranking as 2021-2022 Military Friendly® School

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 09:22am | By: Van Arnold

For the fifth consecutive year, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has earned a prestigious Military Friendly® School Gold Status designation for 2021-2022. This elite recognition further identifies USM as the top “Military Friendly” four-year Institution in the State of Mississippi.

“Our measure of success is our students: their transition to becoming a USM Golden Eagle; academic progress; social awareness and ultimately job placement,” said Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, ret.) Jeff Hammond, director of USM’s Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families. “We joyfully consider it a blessing and honor to serve student-veterans, their families and others who cared enough in their lifetime to protect the freedoms of our sacred constitutional republic.”

Now in its 20th year, the Military Friendly® Schools list has come to set the standard for higher education institutions to provide the best opportunities for veterans and their spouses. This prestigious list provides a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students and proprietary survey information from participating organizations.

Institutions earning the Military Friendly® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-2022 survey with approximately 750 schools earning the “Military Friendly” designation of which 162 were selected for the “Gold” award status for their leading practices, outcomes, and effective programs. The Top 10 recognition equates to Gold status for those institutions.

“We work hard each day to find ways for our military students to succeed,” said Michael McGee, USM Veteran Center outreach coordinator. “Our obligation to the entire military veteran community is threefold: (1) lead by example; (2) love our students, and (3) provide the finest in customer service. We are proud to continue in our service in serving those who protected and continue to protect our freedoms.”

The Military Friendly ratings program was started in 2003 as an advocacy vehicle to encourage civilian organizations to invest in programs to recruit, retain and advance veterans as employees, entrepreneurs and students. By providing a benchmark to aim for, by posting a “score,” this program has encouraged civilian organizations who previously didn’t care about recruiting veterans to do so.

Methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined 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 response set and government/agency public data sources, within a logic-based scoring assessment. Formal measurement included the academic 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.

Kayla Lopez, National Director of Military Partnerships at Military Friendly® (VIQTORY) indicated that “Military Friendly® is committed to transparency and providing consistent data driven standards in the designation process. This creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges to consistently evolve and invest in their programs.

“Schools who achieve designation show true commitment and dedication in their efforts. Military Friendly® standards assist schools by providing a benchmark that promotes positive educational outcomes, resources, and support services that better the educational landscape and provide opportunity for the military community,” said Lopez.

The 2021-2022 Military Friendly® Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at

For more information about the USM Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, visit