East Tennessee State University will again receive funding and program support through the Veteran Reconnect Grant to assist veterans and service members in their pursuit of college degrees.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) announced $889,277 in funding for 14 colleges and universities in the state, including $25,000 for ETSU. The university received an award of $80,000 in 2017. Veteran Reconnect is part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase educational attainment in the state to 55 percent by the year 2025.
The 2018 Veteran Reconnect grants are focused on improving the assessment of prior learning for veterans returning to college. Prior learning assessment (PLA) examines a veteran’s prior military training and grants equivalent college credit for skills attained during service. This results in a student veteran completing their degree program in an accelerated timeframe.
“This grant will allow ETSU to expand its ability to offer credit for equivalent military training,” said Col. (Ret.) Tony Banchs, director of Veterans Affairs at ETSU. “I am so pleased that THEC has recognized ETSU’s efforts at identifying prior learning assessments for our veteran students.”
The previous Veteran Reconnect Grant of $80,000 allowed ETSU’s Office of Veteran Affairs to hire a military credentials coordinator to conduct prior learning assessments. Trevor Harvey, who holds that position, says efforts are underway to make ETSU the destination of choice for current and potential veteran students.
“Through initiatives such as our Veterans Path to Education (VPE) site, military training and ETSU course equivalency reviews, we are well on our way to reaching our goal to be the leader in this effort,” Harvey added.
Veteran Reconnect aligns with legislation passed last year by the Tennessee General Assembly that directs THEC to develop an online web platform to assist veterans in translating their military experience to academic credit. As part of that effort, institutions receiving grants will map out opportunities already available to students through their campuses.
“Earning college credit for military training can be the difference between a student applying to a school, or moving on to the next opportunity,” said THEC Executive Director Mike Krause. “When a veteran is able to use credit for their military training towards their college degree, they are more likely to persist and finish their program of study.”