Paul Copeland

High ranking: SIU Carbondale ranked third in the Midwest for serving military service members and student veterans in the 2023 “Best for Vets; Colleges” rankings in Military Times magazine.  Paul S. Copeland is the university’s Veterans Services coordinator. (Photo by Russell Bailey) 

November 10, 2023

Military Times ranks SIU Carbondale 3rd in Midwest for veterans

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale continues to earn national recognition for its tradition of providing educational services for military service members and student veterans wherever they might be.

In Military Times magazine’s 2023 “Best for Vets: Colleges” rankings, SIU Carbondale ranked third among 59 colleges and universities in the Midwest and 51st among 325 schools in the nation.

Paul S. Copeland, SIU Carbondale Veterans Services coordinator, said the annual rankings can serve as a barometer on how SIU Carbondale’s programs compare with other schools. SIU has consistently appeared in the rankings for more than a decade due to its long history of serving the military and veteran population.

“We are always looking for new and better ways to provide services,” he said. “This is a great place to pursue a degree for any student, which makes it easy to provide the same opportunities to military/veteran students.” 

Military Times reviews retention and graduation rates for all students, along with students with military ties. It also looks at offerings such as SIU’s Veterans Center, which provides access to study resources, socialization and quiet spaces, along with employees who share their military experience and provide peer support, Copeland said.

SIU Carbondale has 545 total military and veteran students. SIU Extended Campus serves 276 of these students who are on active duty and veteran students taking courses online and/or at off-campus locations while using Veterans Affairs educational benefits. Christina Lawrence, Extended Campus V.A. school certifying official, said SIU is dedicated to serving this population.

“SIU has been able to reach across the U.S. throughout the years and even more now with our web-based programs,” she said. “We will continue improving each student’s experience every year, as we are here to innovate, elevate and serve.”

More information on the comprehensive programs offered by SIU Carbondale’s Veterans Services is available at, by calling 618-453-1335 or email at