By Debbie Gregory.
The University of California (UC) system can boast over 200,000 students attending the combined 10 campuses across the state. The ten schools that make up the UC system are: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz. UC schools are the top tier of California’s three-tiered public higher education system that also includes the California State University (CSU) system and the California Community College system.
Among the 200,000 UC students are approximately 1,600 Veteran students, and approximately 100 students who are active duty military. According to the UC office of the President, 1,300 Veterans are enrolled in undergraduate studies, and 300 more are enrolled in graduate studies programs.
While Veterans make up less than 1% of the total student body, the president of the UC system, Janet Napolitano, is making the needs of Veteran students a priority for her staff. This past February, Napolitano began conducting a series of meetings with her Veterans’ advisory group and with Veteran students representing every UC campus.
The Veterans relayed their specific needs for individual campuses, and provided feedback on where system-wide policy enactments would be beneficial.
One of the main area in need of system-wide reform is training for UC enrollment and administrative employees in regards to VA education benefits entitlements. The discussions included the request for improved communication between UC administrators and Veteran students about their special financial aid needs.
Veteran students, who often attend university through their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, have different financial needs that traditional students, most of whom enrolled in college straight from high school. Veteran students who use their Post-9/11 GI Bill have their full tuition paid for by their benefit at in-state public schools, or a cap of $19,198 per year at private and/or out of state schools. Veteran students who reach their cap limit or are attending a private or out of state school still have alternative resources that traditional students don’t have access to, including the Yellow Ribbon Program. All university administrators around the country need to be privy to these programs to best serve their Veteran students.
The Veteran students that met with Napolitano also voiced the need for a space on every UC campus where Veterans could find information about resources they need for their academic careers. The Veterans in the group felt that many of their comrades come to campus not knowing all of the resources and tools that are available for them. Veterans Resource Centers would be a great way to inform Veterans of what their campus/university system has to offer them.
The Veterans did offer praise to the UC system for offering priority registration and priority housing throughout the state. They also acknowledged their gratitude for the scholarships and mental health services for Vets.
Veteran students and UC administrators alike came away from the series of discussions feeling good about the progress they have made for current and future Veterans who enroll in the UC system. But they all agree that providing for Veterans on the UC campuses will be an ongoing and evolving progress.
Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.
Military Connection: UC Hears Veteran Students: By Debbie Gregory