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Military Connection: Model for Rating Veteran-Friendly Schools

Vet friendly schoolsBy Joe Silva

Since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009, more than one million individuals, including Veterans and dependents with transferred GI Bill benefits, have enrolled at institutions of higher education. And approximately 250,000 service members continue to separate from the military each year, the majority of whom will use their GI Bill to attend college. In response to all of these Veterans attending school through use of GI Bill benefits, many institutions have been vying for their federally paid tuition money, and the extra grant funding offered to schools that serve Veterans. Even with the best intentions in mind, some institutions have lost sight of the need to serve each Veteran student individually. It has become hard to tell which schools are actually out to help Veterans, and which are out solely to help themselves.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has come up with a possible solution for their state that could set the standard for the entire country. The MVAA has devised a rating system for colleges and universities that provides Veterans with a means to determine their prospective school’s track record for serving Veteran students.

The MVAA looks at criteria such as:

  • On-campus Veteran’s coordinator and/or staffed Veterans center
  • Active student-operated Veteran club/association
  • Established process for the identification of current student Veterans
  • Evaluation and awarding of credit for military training and experience
  • Veteran-specific website/portal
  • Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran academic retention, completion and graduation rates
  • Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran job placement rates

If a school has at least three of the above, the MVAA gives them a Bronze rating. If the school has four, they receive a Silver rating. If they are found to provide six or more of the above, schools are given a Gold rating. The ratings are announced by MVAA and placed on their website for Veterans to consider when they are researching schools to use their GI Bill.

While this rating system is currently only used in Michigan, it could be something to consider doing nationally, ideally by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which administers Veteran education benefits. When using the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool, Veterans have access to information such as how many GI Bill students attend a particular school, if that school has a Veterans club/group, and if they are a Yellow Ribbon School. Also available is information such as whether the school is in compliance with the president’s “Principles of Excellence,” do they abide by the “8 Keys to Veterans Success,” and if the school has had any complaints made to the VA by way of Veteran student feedback. Furthermore, Veterans can see how the school is accredited, and view the amount of fees paid through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. All the VA would have to do to implement a program similar to the one that the MVAA has in place would be to calculate the data that it is already collecting.

Veteran students will still have a choice of where they want to attend, but knowing if their prospective school is or isn’t doing all that they can to serve their Veteran students could assist with the decision making process.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans 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 Boardinformation 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: Model for Rating Veteran-Friendly Schools: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Legislation Expands Programs for Veteran-Students

Veteran Students

By Joe Silva

On February 26, 2015, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would reauthorize and improve a grant program designed to assist colleges and universities in establishing, maintaining, improving, and operating Veteran Student Centers.

The Senate bill is titled The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 S.604 and was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester from Montana.

According to the text in S.604, Congress found that over 1 million Veterans attended college in 2014. Veteran-students face unique challenges that many traditional and even other non-traditional students don’t, including age differences, significant time away from academic life, obligations to their families, and even service-connected disabilities.

Congressionally sponsored studies reported that many Veterans struggle in the classroom and often feel isolated and under served on campus. This leads many Veterans to drop out of college before they complete their desired degree or certification program.

Veterans of the Post-9/11 era have the highest unemployment rate among Veterans. Dropping out of college does not help to improve this statistic.

Studies have shown that among the most beneficial resources for Veteran-students are each other. Veterans on campus provide each other with comradery, a sense of belonging, and serve as mentors to each other. Congressional studies and studies carried out by student groups and educators concur; providing a centralized location on campus for Veteran-students for information, resources, and a hub to connect to other Veterans has proven to increase their academic success.

The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 would empower the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to award no more than thirty grants to institutions of higher learning that have a significant population of Veteran-students, and students who are current members of the active-duty military, National Guard or Reserves. The grants would be awarded for periods of four years and will not exceed $500,000 each.

The use of grant funding is to be used to establish, maintain, improve, and operate a Veteran Student Center. Grant recipients can also use portions of the funds to carry out supportive services for Veterans on their campus, such as assistance with admissions and transfer credits.

At the time it was introduced, S.604 was read twice and then referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

As a Veteran-student, I can see the benefits in approving the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015. Most of the rules and policies for admissions and tuition payments are unique for Veterans, and not every staff member on every campus knows this. Veteran-students need a place on campus to go to get all of their questions answered by a staff member who knows how their individual school processes benefits.

On behalf of those who served, who are now or will someday be enrolled in college, please contact your senator and tell them to back S.604, the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 for their constituency.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Legislation Expands Programs for Veteran-Students: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: In-state Rates for Vets in N.J. By Debbie Gregory

NJ Vet Tuition

The New Jersey State Assembly passed legislation that benefits Veterans who are going back to college.

On December 18, 2014, Bill A-3967, titled the “New Jersey Tuition Equality for America’s Military (NJTEAM) Act” was passed by New Jersey’s State Assembly. The new legislation will require all public colleges and universities in the state to charge Veterans and their dependent children or spouse the in-state tuition rate, no matter where they are from.

To show exactly what a measure like this can mean for Veteran families, the basic tuition rates for undergrads attending Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, is $10,954 for in-state students and $25,732 for students who are not residents of New Jersey.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will pay 100% of all in-state public school tuition, up to $20,235.02 per eligible year of their benefit at private or out of state schools. If the school does not offer, or the Veteran does not qualify for any other programs, a Veteran from another state would have to pay $5,496.98 per year out of their own pocket to attend Rutgers. This legislation rectifies that situation.

Some states already have similar measures in place. The Student Veterans of America (SVA) website shows all the states that have similar legislation in place. But there are also specific university systems across the country that run their own programs. For instance, all Veterans and dependents in California can apply for in-state tuition fee waivers at all University of California and California State University campuses. So be sure to check with your desired school to see what programs they offer, even if it isn’t legislated in your state.

MilitaryConnection.com would like to commend the state of New Jersey for implementing such necessary and valuable legislation that benefits Veterans and military families. One of the reasons that many Americans enlist in the U.S. military is to earn a college education. Measures like the NJTEAM Act afford Veterans the opportunity to use their hard-earned education benefits at more schools, and to achieve more of their post-military goals. There is no easier way for an entire nation to say “Thank you” to Veterans than by opening the doors of opportunity for them, allowing them to apply to the school of their choice, anywhere in the nation.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: In-state Rates for Vets in N.J. By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Sullivan University Recognized: By Joe Silva

Sullivan UAs service members transition out of the military, there are very few who find or even want civilian careers in the field of their military occupational specialty.  That is why education benefits for Veterans, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, are so important today. But what good are these benefits and securing an education if they don’t provide Veterans with the necessary tools to have successful post-military careers in the fields of their choosing?

That is what sets the Sullivan University System apart from other schools. Sullivan University has a long standing tradition of turning Veterans into professionals. Sullivan’s dedication to its military students is gaining attention.

For all that the school and staff do for Veterans, Sullivan was awarded the “2014 Veterans School Salute” by MilitaryConnection.com. And recently, Sullivan was also named one of the 2015’s “Best for Vets” Career and Technical Colleges by Military Times.

And the Sullivan University System, as well as three of its member schools, has been recognized as a Military Friendly School. Along with The Sullivan University System (which includes Sullivan’s Fort Knox Campus) the Sullivan College of Technology and Design, Spencerian Louisville and Spencerian Lexington have all been named by Victory Media—publisher of “G.I. Jobs” and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools—as Military Friendly Schools for 2015.

The 2015 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and student veterans.

Since 1982, Sullivan University has had a strong relationship with the U.S. Army. That year, the leadership at Fort Knox recruited the faculty at Sullivan to train their cooks in culinary arts. Over the past 32 years, that relationship has blossomed. The dedicated professionals at Sullivan have celebrated many successes among their military and Veteran students.

Sullivan is committed to setting a career course for their students who are active-duty military, Veterans, members of the National Guard and Reserve, or military family members. The school’s six campuses, as well as its online program, accept the following: Post-9/11 GI Bill (CH.33), Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP, CH.32), Vocational Rehabilitation (CH.31), Montgomery GI Bill (CH.30), MGIB-Select Reserve (Ch.1606), Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP, CH.1607), Dependents Education Assistance Program (Ch.35), as well as GI Bill benefits that have been transferred to military dependents. In addition, Sullivan offers a number of private grants and scholarships for active-duty service members and Veterans whose tuition is not fully covered by other programs.

Along with affordable tuition, the service and programs offered at Sullivan are among the most Veteran-friendly in the country. The faculty and staff at Sullivan University believe that when it comes to education, one size does not fit all. That is why the school dismisses the “cookie cutter” education mentality, helping students create the academic plan that is individually suited to meet their goals and their needs.

If you are currently serving and thinking about your next career move, or are a Veteran looking to take the first steps towards your successful civilian life, visit www.sullivan.edu and see how Sullivan University Systems can help you get the professional training you need for the career that you deserve.

Military Connection: Sullivan University Recognized: By Joe Silva

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Veteran Friendly Schools: By Joe Silva

Best Veteran CollegesThe Post-9/11 GI Bill is one of the most amazing benefits offered to those who serve. By using this benefit, Veterans can earn a degree or vocational certificate, get paid while in school, and jump-start their post-military lives. The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays the total tuition for all state schools, and up to $20,235 per year for private institutions, for up to 36 months of in-school time. The bill also pays Veterans a monthly housing allowance that is equal to BAH for E-5 with dependents for the zip code where the school is located. Veterans also receive a $500 stipend, per semester, for books and supplies.

With such a generous benefit, all Veterans should make completing higher education their highest post-military goal. Choosing a school should be dependent on what career field or area of study the Veteran wants to pursue, as well as the degree level they are aiming for. Internet research and campus visits are the best ways to find this information. But after narrowing down your list of potential schools, the final consideration should go to colleges and universities that know how to provide for and work with Veteran students.

Military Connection would like to acknowledge some schools that are recognized for being Veteran Friendly:

D’Youville College (DYC), Buffalo, NY: DYC has a tradition of commitment to their Veteran and military students. The school offers special grants and waivers to its Veteran students, including up to 50% off tuition, and 20% off for their dependents. DYC offers its GI Bill students a book voucher, because the book stipend usually doesn’t arrive until after the semester begins.

Sullivan University Systems, Kentucky: Sullivan operates six campuses (one on base at Fort Knox), as well as a variety of Veteran-friendly online programs, which provide a broad array of vocational certificates, Associates, Bachelors, Masters degrees, and PhD programs in management. Sullivan’s culture believes that when it comes to education, one size does not fit all. Sullivan utilizes a nine member board of military and Veteran advisors to ensure that Veterans are getting the most out of the school, and not the other way around.

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas: Texas A&M rates among the most Veteran-friendly colleges in the country, the result of multiple polls. The school currently boasts more than 2,000 students using the GI Bill or dependent benefits. But more importantly, the school employs 400 Veterans in both faculty and staff positions. Who better to lead the way for Veterans than other Veterans?

California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA: Cal Lutheran ranks among the most Veteran-friendly schools in the western United States, and their ranking is likely to skyrocket very soon. Through use of the Yellow Ribbon Program, Cal Lutheran has recently been authorized by the VA to offer a 50% discount on tuition for an unlimited number of Veteran students. This means that Veterans can attend the prominent school, normally costing $36,690 per year in tuition, for no money out of pocket.

There are thousands of schools throughout the country that would like to be on the receiving end of the tuition money that Veterans bring via the Post-9/11 GI Bill. When transitioning service members and Veterans are making the decision on where they want to start their post-military lives, they should consider how potential schools provides for Veterans. If they offer programs similar to the ones that these schools provide, it is a safe bet that the school is military and Veteran friendly.

Veterans should search MilitaryConnection.com’s Education page for information about schools and programs, as well as a link the GI Bill Comparison tool.

Military Connection: Veteran Friendly Schools: By Joe Silva

MilitaryConnection: Vets Find Success at Sullivan U. By Debbie Gregory

Sullivan successSullivan University has a history of commitment when it comes to training and educating veterans and active duty military personnel. The university system, based in Louisville, KY, also has a campus in Lexington, and has operated a campus on base at Fort Knox, KY for more than 30 years. This a testament to Sullivan’s dedication to the military community. The school is also proud of its online division that benefits working professionals, as well as the Dale Carnegie Training Institute.

To further the school’s commitment to the military community, Sullivan formed the Military and Veteran’s Advisory Board, chaired by Brigadier General James Shane (US Army-Retired).  The board is tasked with establishing policies and procedures that provide the best educational experience possible for Sullivan’s service members, veterans and their families.

“I, along with other senior military leaders, stress there are no better ‘work ready’ candidates than our veterans,” said General Shane. “But they are not necessarily ‘work-trained’ and our job is to provide necessary education and training that leads to a second career and gainful employment.”

As part of its Veterans Retraining and Re-employment Initiative, the university sponsored a six-week program in Bowling Green, Kentucky for disabled Veterans’ job training. The program was the result of a collaboration with Preeminent Training Specialists LLC, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce.

Veterans received Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) training in safety, quality, manufacturing processes and production, maintenance of equipment and machines, and green/environmental production.

General Shane  went on to say, “Sullivan University’s partnership with Preeminent Training Specialists and MSSC provides an excellent opportunity for Veterans to seek a new career in manufacturing, one of the fastest growing high-tech industries in the United States.”

Sullivan is proud to report that 75% of the graduates from their Veterans Retraining and Re-employment Initiative have been offered jobs.

“These men and women have sacrificed much for our country,” said Gen. Shane. He added, “At Sullivan, we want to ensure we do everything possible to make their choice of continuing their education a good one.”

Sullivan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The University offers numerous certificate, diploma and degree programs in career-orientated programs. The programs include business, pharmacy, human resources, technology, supply chain management, culinary and baking and pastry arts, hospitality studies, conflict management, nursing, allied health sciences, legal studies and early childhood education.  For more information, visit www.sullivan.edu.

Sullivan is proud to have received the very first Military Connection Veteran School Salute. The award recognizes veteran colleges and universities that go above and beyond in their efforts to help military students, veteran students,  and their loved ones use the rich education benefits that they have earned, and make the most of their education experience.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Vets Find Success at Sullivan U. By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Winning the GI Bill Invasion: By Joe Silva

Veteran student invasionColleges and universities: be on the lookout…more than a million Veterans are flooding campuses nationwide. And even more Veterans are on the way. How can you prepare?

According to the Student Veterans of America (SVA), more than 1.2 million Veterans have gone back to school using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The SVA also claims that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued $43.1 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to Veterans. Those numbers are set to continue to climb as more Iraq and Afghanistan-era service members separate from the military at a rate of around 250,000 each year.

I, myself, am a college graduate by way of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and can speak firsthand of the increasing presence of Veterans on campuses  throughout the U.S.  This should drive home the point that schools wanting the VA’s tuition money need to step up their efforts to accommodate the needs of military Veterans.

Most colleges have made major progress in providing for Veteran students since 2008. Now, almost three-quarters of them have at least one member of their staff specifically dedicated to assisting Veterans. But there is always more that can be done to provide for military Veteran students.

Many schools have created a common gathering space for their Veteran students. Veteran Resource Centers, Veterans Affairs offices, lounges and study areas are becoming more and more common. Make sure that your school’s space is known to your Veterans, while still encouraging them to mingle with the rest of the student population. Interacting with other students contributes to a well-rounded education through the exchange of knowledge.

Along the same line, many schools with large Veteran populations have introduced events, forums and even courses that focus on inclusion,  and allow these students to field questions about the military from their classmates. Many Veterans won’t openly share with strangers what they have experienced, but if asked, they are happy to answer.

One final thing that schools can do for Veteran students is hire Veterans. With more than one million Veterans who have returned to college, there is a growing number of Veterans with degrees. The nation’s academic institutions can assist all students, especially Veteran students, by tapping in to this talent pool. From staffing administration offices and Veteran Resource offices, to tutoring centers and even classroom instructors, hiring qualified Veterans should be a top priority.

By showing Veterans that your school is dedicated to helping them succeed in their mission to earn a college degree, administrators can guarantee the continued enrollment of GI Bill students.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp, 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: Winning the GI Bill Invasion: By Joe Silva