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Veteran’s Campaign to Make Stanford More Veteran Friendly

stanford university

By Debbie Gregory.

Adam Behrendt is on a mission. The former U.S. Navy corpsman who enrolled as a transfer student at Stanford University is trying to persuade the university to change some of their policies to make the school more veteran friendly.

Behrendt enlisted in the Navy in 2007, after several years at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, was medically retired from the Navy in March 2015. He applied to Stanford, with the game plan of attending medical school.

Unfortunately, the way Stanford applied the education benefits available through Behrendt’s Post 9/11 GI Bill did not make it financially feasible for his wife to give up her job in Wisconsin and move to California.

Fortunately for Behrendt, he was able to get assistance from Service to School, an organization that helps military veterans apply to and succeed in college. Through his relationship with the non-profit, Behrendt began mentoring other veterans to help them navigate Stanford’s financial aid policies.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) provides both tuition assistance and a housing and living allowance to veterans in order for them to pursue postsecondary education.

Stanford charged roughly $72,000 for an undergraduate — $47,000 in tuition, $18,000 in room and board, and about $7,000 for supplies and fees.

Under VA policy at the time, the typical undergraduate veteran at Stanford would be eligible for more than $50,000 — roughly $25,000 in tuition and fees support and another $28,000 toward housing and living expenses.

For veterans who also earned need-based funds from Stanford, the university would apply the entire $53,000 from the VA, and reduce its own financial contributions as a result. Stanford was counting the housing allowance as a resource that the student veteran was bringing to the table in calculating financial aid.

Behrend thought it was not fair for the university to take $28,000 in VA funds to cover $18,000 in room and board.

Behrendt had become an accidental advocate, and because of his efforts,  Stanford’s general counsel noted in a letter to Behrendt that the university would no longer take more than the amount of the housing costs out of the VA’s living allowance, and that the university would not use an outside donor’s funds to meet a federal requirement that institutions match VA contributions under the Yellow Ribbon program.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

St. Bonaventure University- A Great School for Veterans, A Great Place to Work

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St. Bonaventure University (SBU) has long valued military veterans as an integral part of their campus community. Their new Student Veterans Center is staffed by two full-time employees, one full- time director, one full-time assistant director, and a half-time VISTA worker dedicated solely to the needs of veterans and their dependents as they transition from military to academic life. In addition, the University has had a chapter of the National Student Veterans Association.

The values SBU cherishes — discovery, community inclusiveness, service, and respect for the dignity and worth of each individual- — create a supportive, respectful environment for students, faculty and staff members. Situated in the peaceful surroundings of the Allegheny Mountains, the Main Campus offers the traditional program format. The second site, located on the Hilbert College Campus in Hamburg, NY, offers the weekend course format.

As the school expands to meet the needs of all their students, some employment opportunities have presented.

The School of Education has two tenure-track positions for Counselor Education at the Assistant or Associate Professor rank beginning fall 2017, and applications for these positions are invited.

One position is for a faculty member specializing in School Counseling and one is for Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  This position will include teaching master’s level courses in online, hybrid and face to face formats. Individuals from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply

Candidates must have: (1) an earned doctorate in Counselor Education is required and preference will be given to CACREP program graduates; (2) licensure as a professional counselor and/or certification as a professional school counselor; (3) experience as a school counselor or clinical mental health counselor;  (4) university teaching experience;  (5) expertise in online teaching and learning.

The successful candidate will teach graduate courses and advise students in the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs.  Experience in addictions, multicultural counseling, diagnosis and treatment, research, and/or assessment is preferred.  Candidates should demonstrate excellence in teaching, the ability to work collaboratively with others, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Scholarly activity leading to publication in peer-reviewed journals is expected, as well as presentations at counseling conferences.   Experience with accreditation is a plus.  One successful candidate may serve as Program Director.

Candidates should submit curriculum vitae, letter of application, three letters of reference, and a sample of scholarly work via email to:  Dr. Nancy Casey, Interim Dean, School of Education; at [email protected]

St. Bonaventure University is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, staff and student body, and strongly encourages applications from the entire spectrum of a diverse community. In light of its commitment to create and maintain a safe learning and working environment, employment with St. Bonaventure University requires successful completion of a background screening. Unless otherwise provided by law, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify an individual from employment.

The Top Ten Financial Benefits for Military Families

benefitts

By Debbie Gregory.

Are you taking advantage of some of the best financial benefits afforded to military families? A quick review of the following list will help you answer that question:

  1. Tuition-free college-Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the cost of in-state tuition and fees at public colleges are covered for up to 36 months, or up to $21,970 per year for private colleges and foreign schools. Another added bonus is the housing stipend and money for books and supplies. Choosing a yellow ribbon school will stretch the benefit even farther.
  1. Veterans Administration loans – VA loans allow you to buy a house with no money down, and without having to purchase private mortgage insurance.
  2. Tax-free BAH- The monthly subsidy covering all or part of your monthly rent or mortgage payment as long as you’re in the military is tax-free.
  1. Low interest loans- Each branch of service has its own emergency-relief fund that offers small, interest-free loans for emergencies.
  1. Low-cost life insurance- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance costs a mere 7 cents per $1,000 of coverage/ month. This totals $336 a year for the maximum $400,000 coverage.
  2. Legal protection- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides special legal benefits, including an interest-rate cap of 6% on any loans you took out before you were called to active duty and the right to terminate a lease due to PCS.
  3. Guaranteed return- The military’s Savings Deposit Program lets deployed servicemembers invest up to $10,000 in the program each time you are deployed. You receive 10% annual interest, compounded quarterly; the program lasts for up to three months after your return.
  1. Tax-Free Roth IRA- Servicemembers who are receiving tax-free combat-zone pay can deposit up to $5,500 into a Roth IRA, tax-free, and earnings come out tax-free as well.
  1. Low-cost retirement savings plan- The Thrift Savings Plan charges an annual expense ratio of just 0.029% of assets — whereas annual fees and expenses for 401(k) plans average between 1% and 2%.
  2. State tax breaks- If your legal residence is in a state that has no income tax, you can be shielded from taxes if you move to another state while on active duty.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Students Who Drop Out May Owe Repayment

debt

By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran students who attend school on the GI Bill may be facing monetary consequences if they fail to complete classes.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to recoup more than $200 million that was overpaid when veterans dropped classes or failed to complete them, thus becoming ineligible for the tuition and living stipends.

And this information comes as a complete surprise to many of these students.

When a veteran enrolls in school, the government sends money for tuition and fees to the school, and sends housing and living stipends to the veteran. In theory, if the student drops or fails to complete a class, the VA scales back the benefits accordingly, and the student becomes responsible for any overpayments

In 2014, about one in every four GI Bill beneficiaries, or about 225,000 veterans, incurred an overpayment debt, averaging about $570. And in most cases, the veteran students are responsible for repaying the debt. The VA does not require veterans to verify their enrollment each month, causing a “significant time lapse” between when veterans drop courses and when the government learns about the enrollment change and can reassess payments.

VA officials have recouped more than half of the overpayments from fiscal 2014, but another $110 million from previous years is still uncollected, most of it from veterans.

While the VA has taken steps to address processing errors through technology improvements, quality assurance reviews, and training, the VA still needs to find better ways to communicate its policies to individual veterans. If more veterans are made aware of how the system works, chances are they would be more aware of how to avoid the pitfall. And when they do have the issue, the VA should notify them more promptly when an overpayment occurs, and also improve its system for verifying enrollment.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.