ETSU holds dedication ceremony for new Military-Affiliated Student Resource Center

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JOHNSON CITY – A newly named, renovated and relocated space for military-affiliated students at East Tennessee State University is officially open. A dedication ceremony held Wednesday by the Office of Veterans Affairs introduced the community to the new Military-Affiliated Student Resource Center (MARC).

Located on the ground floor of Yoakley Hall and formerly known as the Veterans Lounge since its opening in 2013, the renovated MARC is more than three times larger and serves close to 700 military-affiliated students.

“The new title more adequately represents what it is. The MARC is a sign of ETSU’s commitment to our military-affiliated population,” said Dr. Bert Bach, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The MARC features separate study and social spaces where students can connect through academics and shared experiences, as many have lived across the country and the globe. It has a computer lab, study/conference room, kitchen, charging station for devices and space for working service animals to rest alongside their military-affiliated owners.

Enrollment of military-affiliated students who served in the military or are members of military service families has increased 28 percent in the last two years. The Office of Veterans Affairs is over halfway to its goal to have 1,000 military-affiliated students by 2026.

“This space is a sign of continuing growth and the recognition of that growth,” noted Col. (Ret.) Tony Banchs, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs. “We continue to recruit students from surrounding military bases and throughout the region.”

Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs congratulated ETSU for its outreach efforts beyond recruitment, adding, “We know that enrolling in college is not enough. We want to make sure they succeed all the way through to graduation so they can go on and continue to serve our country, our state and our communities in new and different ways.”

To learn more about benefits available at ETSU for veteran and military-affiliated students, visit etsu.edu/academicaffairs/veteransaffairs or contact the Office of Veterans Affairs at 423-439-6819.

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The National WWII Museum Turns 20 and Commemorates D-Day

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On June 6, 2020, The National WWII Museum will celebrate its 20th birthday and commemorate the 76th anniversary of D-Day.

To honor both events, the museum will be open to visitors, but to adhere to social distancing guidelines, they will hold all of the day’s activities online.

The day will be filled with an array of digital events such as  a social media scavenger hunt, educational talks, and a screening of a new documentary that will go over the museum’s history. For those wishing to attend the museum physically, the museum will be open at normal business hours.

Click here for the museum’s Facebook page where all of the live events will be taking place.

Check out what events will be transpiring within the next few days:

Live D-Day Veteran Conversation: Friday, June 5 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (CT)

The Museum’s mission is built upon its collection of oral histories–these are the people we’re committed to remembering, and getting to share their accounts with our audience puts a deeply personal spin on the Museum experience. Join Curator of Oral History Joey Balfour as he discusses the Normandy landings with a veteran who experienced the invasion firsthand. Dr. Hal Baumgarten D-Day Commemoration Ceremony Saturday, June 6 11:00 a.m. (CT) Presented in memory of D-Day veteran and Museum friend Dr. Harold “Hal” Baumgarten, this commemoration ceremony will mark the 76th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with a solemn remembrance of the events of June 6, 1944, and conclude with a moment of silence. The Dr. Hal Baumgarten D-Day Commemoration Endowment, made possible by the generous gift of Karen and Leopold Sher, ensures that Dr. Baumgarten’s legacy will live on in perpetuity and helps the Museum fulfill its mission to educate future generations about the events of World War II and its lasting impact.

Celebrating 20 Years: The National WWII Museum Saturday, June 6 at 1:00 p.m. (CT)

Boysie Bollinger, longtime Museum Trustee and one of the its biggest champions, together with the Museum’s Founding President & CEO Emeritus Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, and current President & CEO Stephen Watson, will reminisce about what it was like to be a part of the grand opening festivities on June 6, 2000; how WWII history has become a larger part of the nation’s fabric, spurring the expansion of The National WWII Museum; and the Museum’s continued transformation into one of the premier cultural and educational institutions in the world. D-Day at The National WWII Museum

Saturday, June 6 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (CT)

The National WWII Museum will be open to the public for normal business hours on our 20th anniversary. Special features for the day include independent family activities, a Social Media Scavenger Hunt, and the premiere of a short documentary celebrating the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Purchase your tickets here!

Tips for Military Veterans Going Back to School

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With one semester ending and another school year approaching, many active and former military personnel might be considering how to best use their education benefits.

No matter what area of study you decide to pursue, going back to school can be difficult to manage, even if the benefits are extraordinary.
 
Here are the best tips on how to successfully transition from military life to college life:
 

  • Have a Plan and a Back-Up Plan
    1. Most college campuses have an abundance of majors and areas of study, but which one is going to work best for you, your interests, and your schedule? Before you step foot on campus, contact an academic advisor to find out more about the programs you’re interested in. What have past students in your field done after graduation? Is this the best place to receive my degree in this field? How do the professors teach and what are the time slots for these classes? You want to make sure you are able to pursue your degree that will best suit your needs in a way that is as stress free as possible. Creating a back-up plan is also helpful in the event that you decide to switch majors, or the program isn’t as incredible as it was made out to be.
  • Develop a Good Study Schedule
    1. In the military, you are taught to learn quickly and on a schedule. If this is the method you have become accustomed to, then it can be an easy transfer to study skills. Scheduling how long you study, break times, and how much material you are going to recover are all great ways to get the most out of your study time. However, remember that not all people study the same. How were you best able to learn and succeed while in the military, and how can this be transferred to your classes?
  • Stay Organized
    1. This may seem self-explanatory, but the way that you kept your space tidy and clean in the military is the same way you should keep your workspace clean. Keeping a clean workspace not only allows for students to easily locate all of their study materials, but it also limits messy distractions and increases concentration.
  • Use Your Resources
    1. One of the most amazing things about universities is the abundance of resources you have. Tutors, libraries and career counselors can help you in your study habits, but schools also provide medical facilities, access to therapy, gyms, and veteran-specific support groups that can all aide in personal endeavors and mental health.
  • Communicate
    1. In the end, you and your classmates have quite a bit in common—you both want to graduate. Working on a team to study, much like how military personnel work on teams to accomplish tasks, can be highly effective in schoolwork as well as utilizing office hours, academic counseling, and even school clubs. Getting involved with your new college community will provide new opportunities to learn, study, make friends, release stress and enjoy socialization, all of which help your academic and personal lives.

Need Money for Higher Education?

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Don’t think you can afford college? Think again. In addition to military tuition assistance and Department of Veterans Affairs education programs, numerous loans and opportunities are available to help you fund the next step in your education.

Federal grants and loans

Check out these grants and loans to help cover education expenses:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the required application from the Department of Education. It determines your eligibility for any form of federal financial aid. Federal Pell Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. The grant is typically awarded to an undergraduate student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. In some cases, a student enrolled in a post-bachelor’s teacher certificate program may receive a Pell Grant.
  • Direct Stafford Loans are low-interest loans to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or a trade, career or technical school.
  • PLUS loans are federal loans that eligible graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for education expenses.
  • Federal Perkins Loans are low-interest loans for both undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant Program, or FSEOG, provides need-based grants to help low-income undergraduate students finance the cost of higher education. Priority is given to recipients of the Federal Pell Grant.

Colleges and universities

More than 2,600 colleges and universities worldwide offer educational opportunities to military members. Service Members Opportunity Colleges, or SOC, a group of more than 1,900 postsecondary schools, provides opportunities to service members and their families to complete college degrees as they live the mobile military life.

Here are some useful resources to help you plan your postsecondary education:

  • TA DECIDE, a new Department of Defense tool, allows you to compare information about education institutions and costs.
  • Financial Aid Shopping Sheet helps you compare higher education institutions to make informed decisions about where to attend school.
  • GI Bill® Comparison Tool helps you compare Veterans Affairs-approved institutions and review other information to choose the education program that works best for you.
  • College Navigator provides a search feature, builds a list of schools for comparison and pinpoints school locations to help you make the best decision about your postsecondary education.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

Raytheon establishes $20,000 SPY-6 scholarship for US Navy student veterans

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Raytheon Company, in partnership with Student Veterans of America, is offering two U.S. Navy student veterans $10,000 each in scholarships under a new program announced during the Surface Navy Association’s 32nd National Symposium.

Applications for the scholarship grants are accepted on the SVA website from January 15, 2020April 1, 2020.

The Raytheon SPY-6 Scholarship, named for the U.S. Navy’s SPY-6 Family of Radars, provides returning sailors an opportunity to achieve educational goals and position themselves for success in civilian professions. The scholarships will be awarded to sailors who pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited university and demonstrate leadership in their local community.

“Investment in our student veterans – the future leaders of our industry – provides opportunity to gain unique experience, product knowledge and customer-centric insights that protect our service men and women around the world,” said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon’s Seapower Capability Systems business. “Our SPY-6 scholarship rewards Navy student veterans who exhibit superior academic achievement and are leaders on campus and in their communities.”

The Raytheon SPY-6 Scholarship is the latest initiative as part of Raytheon and SVA’s $5 million multi-year partnership to provide military veterans the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education.

About Raytheon
Raytheon Company, with 2018 sales of $27 billion and 67,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 97 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I® products and services, sensing, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. Follow us on Twitter.

About Student Veterans of America 
With a focused mission on empowering student veterans, SVA is committed to providing an educational experience that goes beyond the classroom. Through a dedicated network of more than 1,500 on-campus chapters in all 50 states and 4 countries representing more than 750,000 student veterans, SVA aims to inspire yesterday’s warriors by connecting student veterans with a community of like-minded chapter leaders. Every day these passionate leaders work to provide the necessary resources, network support, and advocacy to ensure student veterans can effectively connect, expand their skills, and ultimately achieve their greatest potential. For more information, visit us at www.studentveterans.org.

Stay in the know: The VA’s 2020 Yellow Ribbon Schools

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The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

This program allows institutions of higher learning (degree granting institutions) in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed either the annual maximum cap for private institutions or the resident tuition and fees for a public institution.

The institution can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses, and VA will match the same amount as the institution.

To view a list of the Department of Veterans Affairs schools on College Recon, Click here.

Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon FAQs

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program? How will it benefit me?

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the law that created the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Yellow Ribbon Program is available for Institutions of Higher Learning (degree granting institutions) in the United States or at a branch of such institution located outside the United States. The program allows approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

If I am eligible for the Post‐9/11 GI Bill, am I automatically eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

No. Only Veterans (or dependents under Transfer of Entitlement) at the 100 percent benefit level qualify. Active duty members and spouses thereof are not eligible for this program. In addition, the institution must be approved to participate in the program, and you must apply to the school.

How do I know whether the school I want to attend participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

More information about the program and the lists of participating Yellow Ribbon schools are posted on the GI Bill website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/yellow_ribbon.asp

If the school I plan to attend participates in the program, can I count on being in the program?

No. The school’s agreement with the VA may limit the number of participants in the program and is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. You must apply to the school. The school will notify each student accepted into the Yellow Ribbon Program.

If the school I plan to attend participates in the program, do all participants receive the same amount of Yellow Ribbon Program benefits?

Not necessarily. Schools have the flexibility to designate the number of students and contributions based on student status (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral) and college or professional school. For example, the school could specify $1,000 for undergraduates, $1,500 for graduate students and $2,000 for doctoral students. The school also could specify $1,800 for students in the school of engineering and $2,500 for students in the school of nursing.

If I participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program this year, will I automatically be in the program next year?

Not necessarily. Yellow Ribbon Program agreements must be in effect for each year. A school with an approved agreement with VA must continue to offer it to you in subsequent years as long as the following conditions apply:

  • The school continues to participate in the program
  • You maintain satisfactory progress towards completion of your program
  • You remain continuously enrolled (per school’s policy)
  • You have remaining entitlement under the Post‐9/11 GI Bill

If you transfer to another school, the new school would have to participate in the program and accept your application; the first school’s decision has no bearing on the second school.

If I participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program this year, will I automatically be guaranteed the same matching contributions from the school and VA for subsequent years (provided the above conditions still apply)?

No. The school may choose to contribute a different amount for subsequent years.

Will all of my tuition and fees be paid for if my school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Not necessarily. The school’s agreement with the VA specifies an amount the school will contribute (and VA will match) to make up all or part of the difference between what the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay and the unmet tuition and fees charges. In addition, the school’s agreement with the VA may specify only certain colleges and/or professional schools, and/or undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral level programs. The list of schools on the website will include specific information on each school’s agreement with VA.

What happens when a portion of my tuition and fees is already met through state or institutional waivers?

The amount of tuition and fees charged, minus any aid specifically designated for the sole purpose of defraying tuition and fees, will be used to determine the amount payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The unmet charges may be covered in part or entirely through equal Yellow Ribbon Program contributions from the school and VA.

What fees will be covered by Yellow Ribbon Program funds?

All mandatory fees for a student’s program of education may be included. Any fees that are not mandatory, such as room and board, study abroad (unless the study abroad course is a requirement for the degree program), and penalty fees (such as late registration, return check fees, and parking fines) cannot be included. These fees are not payable under the Yellow Ribbon Program or under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Do I have to attend full time to be in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

No. You do not have to attend full time.

How will I know for sure that I am eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program? What is the process to apply?

If you submit an application for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to VA and are eligible at the 100 percent benefit level, VA will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility advising you are potentially eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. You should provide your Certificate of Eligibility to the school, which in turn will determine if there are slots available for the Yellow Ribbon Program (based on its agreement with the VA).

If your school has already sent us an enrollment certification, and it is processed at the same time as your application, your award letter will also display your benefit level. The school is responsible for notifying you whether or not you are accepted and approved for the Yellow Ribbon Program. The school then submits an enrollment form to VA, certifying information that is used to make payment to the school for tuition and fees and for Yellow Ribbon Program payments.

How would I know if the school I am attending would discontinue its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program for subsequent years?

The school must inform its students of discontinued participation.

Can I receive Yellow Ribbon Program funds for the summer term?

Yes, if the school still has Yellow Ribbon Program funds available for the per‐student maximum contribution for summer term.

If I reduce my course load, how will my payments change?

The contributions from the school and VA would be reduced. Refunds are based on the school’s refund policy, and you would be liable to VA for any resulting overpayments.

If I leave my school but return after a semester, am I still approved for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The school must continue to offer the Yellow Ribbon Program to you provided that the school continues to participate in the program, you maintain satisfactory progress, and you remain continuously enrolled. The definition of continuous enrollment is dictated by the school’s policy and determines your continued eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Source: va.gov

Maximize Your Education Benefits

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Don’t waste one of the greatest benefits of military service: a college education. Use these tips to get started and to make the most of the educational benefits you earned.

Ask How, What, Where

You’re now out of the military and want to attend school on the GI Bill. Where do you go? Ask yourself three questions when deciding on a school: 

How will you attend school: on campus or online? Evaluate your employment schedule, family circumstances and a commute. You might have to relocate to be close to a university campus. Some traditional universities have begun offering online degrees, and many for-profit institutions specialize in online education. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of taking classes online , and pick a method of learning that best suits your lifestyle.

What do you want to study? This question should help narrow down where you want to get an education. Schools offer different kinds of programs, degrees and certificates, and not all are equal. Some value programs over others or have particularly strong departments. Identify what you want to study early so you can save credits by not changing degree plans in the future.  

Where do you want to be when you graduate? In the competitive job market, where you went to school may help or hinder your chances at employment. A degree from a private school in one state might be prestigious in its borders but overlooked elsewhere. Choosing a nationally recognized school can help when employers evaluate your educational background.

  1. The GI Bill as an Investment

The GI Bill does not last forever. You are granted 36 academic months to finish your degree plan—whether it’s to get a certificate, undergraduate, or graduate degree. The bill comes to you on behalf of taxpayers, but it’s not free and should not be wasted. Many people change majors in the course of their life, but it’s a risk when it comes to the GI Bill. There is not much room to adjust and take different classes once your basics are out of the way. Weigh your different degree options and make your decision before taking major-centric courses. Doing so will minimize the risk of exhausting benefits and paying out of pocket for the rest of your classes.

Be prepared to research the quality of education offered by the school you want to attend. While Veterans usually don’t need federal student loans while using the GI Bill, default rates of individual schools can help indicate the ability to secure a job that pays high enough to pay down loans. The Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics utilizes a school search directory to evaluate schools on these grounds. Look up schools you’re interested in and find out how graduates fare after they walk the stage.

  1. Anticipate the Unpredictable Job Landscape

Another reason to take post-military education seriously is the unforgiving job market. Veterans leaving the service after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan—those most able to take advantage of education benefits—face a disproportional amount of unemployment compared to civilians. Veterans face a civilian workforce that doesn’t understand their skills and worries about the burden of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. And according to a VA-sponsored study, Vets often earn less than their civilian counterparts, even with degrees in hand. The takeaway is this: Veterans already enter the workforce at a disadvantage, so make your education bullet point on your résumé stand out just as much as your military experience.

  1. Trust, but Verify

Schools will always welcome your dollars, whether you pay them through loans, scholarships or GI Bill tuition. Unfortunately, some schools use aggressive and questionable practices to enroll students and deliberately exaggerate the earning potential of degrees earned. Resources like Payscale can help determine earning power right out of school and break down how much you stand to make depending on the type of college you attend: public, private, and for-profit. If an enrollment adviser says you will make big money after graduating, think back to the used car lots that litter the roads outside of military bases. They might be selling the equivalent of a car with 200,000 miles for a low interest rate of 18 percent.

  1. Beware of Questionable Research Aids

Go to Google and search for “GI Bill schools.” The first link you get isn’t a page run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first result is GIBill.com, and it uses the name of the most recognized public education program in existence to its financial benefit. It appears to be a legitimate site for information, but a cursory search of its privacy policy shows it is owned by an online marketing firm that, according to a major business publication, specializes in directing students to for-profit schools through its page. It’s a questionable marketing strategy that seeks to legitimize a page that serves little purpose other than to funnel student Veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers. There are 6,500 schools across the country that allow GI Bill benefits; only use VA’s school locator to find qualifying programs. Avoid suspicious websites drowning in advertisements.

  1. Reintegration is Key

The challenges of schoolwork paled in comparison to the difficulties of finding footing in an unfamiliar civilian world—it can take only a few classes to start to realize you can be a changed person after service. As painful as it was, the reintegration process can expose you to different people and ideas that can put you on a path to feeling normal again. For many Veterans, education after the military acts as a first exposure to college and the first challenge of reintegration. Therefore, the campus becomes training wheels for the professional world and allows you time to comfortably adjust to the slower pace of civilian life. If you’re undecided between a physical campus and an online school, consider the benefits of surrounding yourself with other students before you enroll.

Do What’s Best for You

The quality of education a Veteran receives with his or her benefits is a serious matter that can’t be taken lightly, and it is with these tips that we hope Veterans can fully maximize their hard-earned benefits. The GI Bill is a return on an investment that was measured in sweat and blood, often drained on foreign soil. Make it count.

Source: va.gov

Kean University Student-Veteran Receives K-9 Service Dog

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K-9 Keen and Jason Pryor stand outside in a group photos with student body members

Jason Pryor of Elizabeth received the K-9, named Keen, as a gift from the Kean Office of Student Government.

A special Veterans Day ceremony was held on Kean University’s Union campus as senior Jason Pryor, a U.S. Army veteran, introduced the K-9 service dog that he received through an on-campus fundraiser.

Pryor, a senior from Elizabeth majoring in exercise science, did tours in Iraq and Honduras and suffers from PTSD. He received the K-9, named Keen, at the start of the Fall semester as a gift from the Kean Office of Student Government.

“Being with Keen has taught me to be more patient,” said Pryor, whose dog accompanies him to class. “Keen is used as a measure to help prevent me from going through the symptoms and effects of spiraling down, by me tending to his needs and having him tend to me.”

Kean is ranked first in the nation among large public schools for its programs supporting student-veterans, according to the Military Friendly Schools survey.

Student Government raised nearly $20,000 to support service dogs through Rebuilding Warriors, a volunteer non-profit organization whose mission is to provide trained service dogs to veterans. The bulk of the funds raised went toward training Pryor’s dog, and the rest was donated to Rebuilding Warriors to help train other K-9 dogs.

At the ceremony held outside Miron Student Center, Vito Zajda, director of Veteran Student Services at Kean and a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, called Pryor a remarkable student.

“He has been a big support and influential person in our program,” Zajda said. “He has helped open our eyes about how the University can best support its vets.”

Vice President of Rebuilding Warriors Jeff Mullins, also a veteran, said post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can’t be seen by others. ”It’s invisible, stays with you your entire life, and it’s not easy sometimes,” he said. “Our goal is to provide veterans and first responders with a service dog to help them achieve their new normal.”

The University’s Veterans Day event included a color guard, a performance of the national anthem by the Kean Gospel Choir, and the presentation of other honors.

Juan Leon Torres, a senior from Spotswood also studying exercise science and a U.S. Navy veteran, received the 2019 Kean Veteran’s Award for OutstandingK-9 Keen service dog to U.S. Army Veteran pictured sitting next to his new owner Mentor. He develops transition opportunities and initiatives, and mentors a student-veteran each semester.

“Being a veteran and going back to school is super hard because you go from one community to a different lifestyle,” Torres said.

Zajda noted that it is important to support veterans at all times. “The importance of Veterans Day is to recognize that it’s 365 days a year, as veterans go through different highs and lows in their lives,” he said.

K-9 Keen, the service dog accompanying student-veteran Jason Pryor (pictured at top, left of center, in red shirt), is part of the Kean University community. The Kean Office of Student Government raised funds to donate the dog.

About Kean University

Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving more than 16,000 students. The University’s six undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 80 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education. Visit kean.edu.

Some Disabled Vets to Get Automatic Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

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President Donald J. Trump recently signed a presidential memorandum intended to streamline the process of erasing federal student loan debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans.

Through a process called Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge, veterans will now have their student loan debt discharged unless they decide to opt out of the process.

The Department of Education anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis.

The executive order builds on improvements to the TPD discharge process implemented by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.

The education department established a data matching process with the VA in April 2018 to identify totally and permanently disabled veterans who are eligible for student loan relief. Since then, this process has resulted in more than $650 million in student loan relief to more than 22,000 eligible vets.

Veterans will reserve the right to weigh their options and to decline loan discharge within 60 days of notification of their eligibility. They may elect to decline loan relief either because of potential tax liability in some states or because receiving loan relief could make it more difficult to take future student loans.

Eligible veterans who do not opt out of the program will have their remaining student loan balance discharged and will be reimbursed for payments made following the date of their disability discharge.

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, issued a brief statement calling the administration’s action “a welcome development on an issue we have been leading since November 2018.”

She said what began as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the education department grew to include advocacy by military and veteran service organizations, 51 state attorneys general and bipartisan Congressional support and “has led to student loan debt relief for thousands of disabled veterans.”

“We strongly urge the Education Department to complete these loan discharges by September 30, 2019,” the statement concluded.

Continue on to diverseeducation.com to read the complete article.

A Guide to Pursuing an MBA

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By Ron Kness

Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in and feeling like you belong there.

If the school or business is veteran friendly, you will feel like you are “part of the family”—just like when you were serving. Others around you will understand the military lingo that you still use.

They can relate to your experiences when you need someone to talk to.

And if you have this comfort level, you will do better in your coursework or at your job.

Even though the MBA program or job may seem like a perfect fit in the beginning, you’ll soon question if you made the right choice if that veteran friendliness is lacking.

Is Your MBA program military friendly?

Choosing an MBA degree program is an important educational and career decision. After all, an advanced degree serves as a key to career advancement—with the company, position and experience being other factors. Just the difference in starting wage between having an undergraduate and MBA degree is significant—$54,000 versus $70,000 (minimum) respectively. Graduates from the top MBA programs start at six figures right out of school. Run the salary difference between the two types of degrees out over a 30-year career and the number is staggering.

But the first mission is choosing an MBA program. While only you can make the final choice, here is a thought-provoking checklist to help you arrive at a decision:

Does the school have a veterans’ association chapter on campus?

Once out of the military, veterans miss the comradery. Schools having a veterans’ association on campus not only gives veterans a place to meet, but gives the school administration ideas on how to make a veteran’s experience better while at their school.

Is the MBA program also offered online?

Many veteran students are also stay-at-home dads, struggle with PTSD or just like the flexibility of being able to study whenever the time fits into their busy schedule, so an MBA program being offered online can be a deciding factor. More and more, schools are offering the same MBA program both on-campus and online … even with the same curriculum.

Is the school part of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

This can be a true indicator of just how much a school supports veterans. If they support an unlimited number of graduate students with a maximum contribution of at least $9,000 or more per year per student, they have a great Yellow Ribbon Program. It actually ends up being twice that amount because the VA will match whatever contribution the school provides – in effect doubling the amount.

Is the MBA cost-effective?

While cost won’t be much of an issue if attending a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or a private school under the same GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, it’s a primary consideration if not using either. While going the cheapest route is not always a good decision, going the most expensive may not be either. Choose a route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goals.

Does the school have an accreditation that is recognized by the career field?

Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates discovered their school’s accreditation wasn’t recognized by their chosen career field. Not only was it costly to get their degree but not any of it was of value in getting the job they wanted.

Funding MBA Programs for Veterans

Post 9/11 GI Bill

For veterans having entitlement left from their Post 9/11 GI Bill, this can be a major source of MBA funding. When shopping for schools, check the Weam’s School Search to see if the MBA program is in the school’s list of programs—double check by asking the question when visiting the school.

With the GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly up to the resident tuition cost and eligible fees. Monthly, students receive a housing allowance determined by the zip code of the school and number of credits taken. Also students receive up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.

One housing allowance difference to be aware of is for students taking all online courses—in this case students are limited to about half of what they would get if attending classes on campus. A loophole that still exists is to take one class per semester that can be applied to your degree plan (and the rest of your credits that semester online) to get the increased housing amount.

Yellow Ribbon Program

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares to the VA how much they will waive in tuition as well as how many students they will accept into their YRP each year, the degree levels covered and the maximum contribution per student. The VA pledges to pay an equal contributed amount.

The Weam’s School Search shows on the first page if the school is a Yellow Ribbon School or not, or you can visit the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website to search by school.

Source: affordablecollegesonline.org

4 Questions about Yellow Ribbon Schools and Military Benefits

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Yellow Ribbon schools offer unmatched benefits to military veterans. In fact, they cover the entire cost of tuition. But while there is a lot to be gained, there is also some confusion about how the program exactly works.

Yellow Ribbon schools offer additional funding to help eligible veteran students pay for the balance that is left after their annual contribution from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been maxed out. To be eligible under the Yellow Ribbon program, students must be utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill (at the 100 percent level) and cannot be on active duty. Additionally, the Yellow Ribbon designation is not available to students whose active duty spouses transferred the Post 9/11 GI Bill to them.

We spoke to Vanessa Weber, assistant director of military and veteran education benefits (MVEB) at Azusa Pacific University, to learn more about what participating schools offer veterans and their families.

  1. How are military benefits similar to scholarships?

Weber noted that military benefits are similar to scholarships in that they do not have to be repaid as long as the student completes his or her classes and maintains a steady enrollment status (i.e. does not drop from full-time to part-time partway through a term).

  1. How are they different from scholarships?

Military benefits have a more rigorous approval process than scholarships. “Military benefits are very different than scholarships because they go through various approval channels,” explains Weber. The benefits must be approved by the university’s military benefits office, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense, depending on the benefit type. Additionally, military benefits are earned through selfless service to the country. There is no competition or merit-based system that limits potential beneficiaries of the Yellow Ribbon program.

  1. What makes APU’s military benefits unique?

Azusa Pacific University offers a very generous Yellow Ribbon contribution. “Whereas other schools may offer Yellow Ribbon only to a set number of eligible students, APU provides for every student who qualifies,” says Weber.

APU has noted that it is committed to supporting every veteran and minimizing the sense of competition for financial and personal resources. The university’s benefits are not just limited to veterans; APU facilitates tuition assistance for active duty military members and their spouses.

  1. How does APU support military members and veterans?

In addition to the Military and Veteran Education Benefits office, APU also supports military members and veterans through the Military and Veteran Services (MVS) office. Whereas MVEB is involved solely in the processing of military benefits, MVS provides a number of services and resources—including the Veterans Club and events specifically designed for military-connected students.

Yellow Ribbon schools are committed to helping veterans graduate from college debt-free, regardless of their in-state status or whether the school is public or private. That expands educational opportunities beyond what the GI Bill provides, and it demonstrates a university’s commitment to veterans both inside and outside of the classroom.

Author-John Montesi

Source: Reprinted with permission from Azusa Pacific University

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