Daily Archives: March 12th, 2012

College Ramps Up Efforts for Expected Influx of Veteran Students

By Robert Frenke

The college is in the process of initiating programs to help military veterans returning home transition into the classroom by designing programs specifically tailored for this specialized breed of student.

Some schools have set up campus veteran liaisons, mentoring programs and are updating policies to accept transfer credits from veteran’s military experience into their academic careers. The school already accepts a certain amount of credits that can be transferred from a veteran’s military background. According to school officials more programs and resources are currently in the works.

Since May of last year, more than 112,000 veterans nationwide have applied for the educational benefits offered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Many more are expected to apply for their benefits with the impending withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We need to set up programs that are tailored for these vets,” said Prof. Lars Hedstrom, a broadcasting instructor and a 25 year veteran. “We need to plan for these students who are bringing real world experience into our classrooms.”

The bill significantly increases the amount paid for tuition and expenses than the previous one. For veterans attending public colleges and universities, it will fully cover in-state tuition, as well as provide a Basic Allowance for Housing and up to $1,000 per year for books, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. However the so-called GI Bill 2.0, which went into effect in August and October of last year included a new $17,500 a year cap on tuition and fees coverage for veterans attending private universities. It also prorates the housing stipend based on the amount of credit a student veteran takes, and removes the “interval pay” which allowed veterans to continue to receive payments during scheduled school breaks, such as winter and spring breaks.

Many veterans were unaware and unprepared for the changes last year. This could have been a result of a lack of communication and not knowing where to go to find out about the changes to the GI Bill.

“We’re trying to get everyone together,” said Dawn Short, an administrator in Registrar. “We’re trying to create a one spot resource to get this done for the veterans so three or four different departments aren’t all trying to get in touch with the VA and figure out what needs to be done. This way all the departments can just refer to one central area that can communicate with the school, the VA and the vets more effectively.”

Currently the only resource for student vets to go is the registrar’s office, but according to Short, they’re only trained in the paperwork end of the spectrum, although they do try to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to trying to provide veterans with any assistance they can. She says the major player in trying to bring about some of the expected changes is Dean Thomas E. Coleman, Campus Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

“He’s really the man spearheading the whole initiative,” said Sharon Silverstein, Director of Campus Activities. “It’s promising that there are people on all three campuses who are taking these concerns with the utmost importance.”

One of the initiatives that is being looked into is setting up a “one-stop shopping center” for vets so they could go to one place that can handle their unique needs and any issues that may arise including housing, financial, medical, and psychological problems.

While other initiatives have already been put in place some veteran students may not know about. One initiative is the Student Veterans of America Chapter, which was recently set up on some campuses to increase camaraderie and support for vets.

The Registrar plans on putting a veteran’s board outside their office with a list of helpful numbers and information veterans can refer to even when the office is closed, according to Short.

“We have a huge opportunity to serve our veteran community here,” Hedstrom said. “If there are one or two schools with stunning programs for vets, they’ll be the real contenders for veterans who want to earn their degrees. We need to make that process as smooth as possible for these guys.”

Obama’s Community College Plan Challenging Congress

By Dan Bruno

Credit to heatherrobinson.net

How does two million additional Americans being educated and being given relevant job experience sound to those who live here? Pretty good.

President Obama is announcing an $8 billion Community College to Career fund, proposing that community colleges be given the opportunity of training two million workers for well paying jobs in high demand industries such as manufacturing. More spending on education is always good. Hey, Congress, how about making way for those fighting Americans trying to make their way toward achieving not a desirable income or a sought-after one, but one that can withstand the financial responsibilities of today’s world?

Enrollment at community colleges nationwide has increased by 25 percent over the last decade and now tops more than 6 million students. The average American who possesses an associates degree earns roughly $38,200 a year, an increase of about $8,000 over a high school graduated, but $14,000 less than someone who possesses a bachelor’s degree.

However, a bachelor’s degree can be very expensive to obtain these days with rising tuition costs. The average student pays nearly $30,000 at a public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Multiply that roughly three times to get the tuition bill for a bachelor’s degree at a private university at $105,000. Jobs are also not easily found after graduation, but Mr. Obama’s proposal for community colleges may help that fact.

The president wants to impose an incentive to community colleges who have set up opportunities with employers in certain fields to land their graduates permanent jobs after graduation. What better way is there to help feed a starving economy of willing and able Americans? President Obama is trying to throw a bone to those willing to attend college and pay the prices for it—albeit much lower at community colleges. But will congress follow suit? This remains to be seen.

Many students are left without work as the employment rate is still hovering around 9 percent. In the age bracket of 20-24, nearly 9 percent of graduates are unemployed after finishing their degrees. That’s nearly 1 in every 10 students that doesn’t have a job. I don’t have the statistics for those that do have employment but might not be specific to their field of study, or it may be entry-level and unpaid or poorly paid and not indicative of the average statistics for wages in that field.

How many students have you heard of that are just sitting around at their parents house after they worked a long, hard two-to-four year sentencing, regardless of the college they attended? I assure you, most of these students did not plan for this to happen nor are they happy about it. They are perfectly willing (for the most part) and able to work with the education they paid for. Therefore, Obama’s proposal to joust $8 million more into a community college fund that will aim at better educational opportunities and employment opportunities is a no-brainer.

Personally, being a community college student and having experienced a public four-year school as well, I’d like to see community colleges be challenged more and gain a reputation as harder than expected and earning higher wages. Who wouldn’t? To some, community college is a joke. Some call it thirteenth grade. Extended high school. That may be so in some places, I’ve only experienced one community college, so I can’t speak for all. However, I know the advantages in attending one with lower tuition costs, convenience of being a homebody (and the financial responsibilities that would go along with moving away to an out-of-state school or school away from home.) I also know that more employment opportunities and educational opportunities for colleges on the rise with a 25 percent enrollment increase over the last decade is self-explanatory congress.