Kent State Provides Special Programs for Returning Veterans
Currently, the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, which houses both Student Financial Aid and the Adult Student Center, is working on initiatives to better serve Kent State's veteran student population.
"We have been working to establish relationships with state and community resources to further assist our veteran population," says Joshua Rider, financial aid counselor and Veterans Administration certifying officer.
The Student Financial Aid office works closely with veterans to make sure their unique payment options are utilized and financial obligations are fulfilled. To help with the expense of a college education, veterans are able to use the Montgomery GI Bill, which provides up to 36 months of education benefits.
The state of Ohio is doing its part to make a college education more affordable for veterans. The Ohio GI Promise, which becomes effective August 2009, will allow Montgomery GI Bill-eligible veterans from anywhere in the United States to attend state universities in Ohio at in-state tuition rates.
"I definitely think something like this will help the school and the veterans, especially with the economy being so bad," says Daniel Feathers, military veteran and Kent State student. "I think it will benefit Kent State by keeping the [military] personnel numbers up."
Approximately 700 students across all eight campuses receive GI bill benefits. Of that number, 304 are students enrolled at the Kent Campus. Rider says more students may be veterans, but do not identify as such, as they may not be eligible for GI Bill benefits.
The Student Financial Aid office also administers the Ohio National Guard Scholarship, the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship and Vocational Rehabilitation. Vocational Rehabilitation is a program that pays the cost of education for veterans disabled as a result of a service-connected incident. Financial aid works with the veterans' counselors to ensure that they are given the service they need and deserve.
The Student Financial Aid Web site offers a veterans-specific page. The page has links to military scholarship Web sites, the Adult Student Center, University Health Services and the Vet Center Web pages and information on the GI Bill.
The Adult Student Center offers one-on-one assistance to veterans to help with the transition to college. Staff meets with veterans to help them navigate the application process, connect with the Student Financial Aid office, answer questions about what Kent State offers and address housing questions and child care concerns. After a veteran is accepted to the university, the center offers orientation programs during Welcome Weekend.
"Helping Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans succeed in college will take the whole campus community getting involved and understanding their unique needs," says Rachel Anderson, director of the Adult Student Center.
Veterans usually enroll in the Adult Student Orientation course instead of the Freshmen Colloquium, which is designed for most first-year students. The Adult Student Orientation is designed for students with adult responsibilities and experiences. This fall, the Adult Student Center plans to offer a section of Adult Student Orientation specifically created to meet the unique needs of veterans. Veteran support group meetings are being planned as well.
"We have a great partnership with the Portage County Veterans Services department and we have multiple contacts with the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the VA Clinic in Ravenna," Anderson says. "Vice President Harold ‘Pete’ Goldsmith is a member of the governor's advisory board working on issues in higher education related to veterans."
Additional veteran programming offered by Adult Student Center includes open houses for returning veterans, a Kent State chapter of the Veteran's Campus Club, Vets4Vets support meetings and family swim and pizza nights. The Student Financial Aid office coordinates Veterans Day programs.
As a veteran student, Feathers says Kent State has helped him transition into his new role.
"It took a little bit of getting used to — going from the military right to school," says Feathers. "But once I was pretty familiar with everything like my monthly enrollment, everything is working out OK."
For more information on veteran services offered by the university, visit the Web site or contact the Adult Student Center at 330-672-7933 and the Student Financial Aid office at 330-672-2972.
By Samantha Donegan