Warrior-Scholar Project Empowers Student Veterans to Succeed

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group of students sitting in a classroom

By Kristen Baker-Geczy

For many enlisted veterans, college is a critical next step in acclimating to civilian life and landing a fulfilling career after transitioning from military service. While this is an exciting new chapter, many find the adjustment to college to be a challenging experience, especially without the support and camaraderie they had while in the service.

If you’re planning to earn your undergraduate degree after separating, or are already enrolled and feel like you could use some guidance, Warrior-Scholar Project can help!

Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is a national nonprofit that empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities through immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps at some of the nation’s top colleges and universities — including Yale, Harvard, Notre Dame, University of Southern California and Texas A&M, among many others. The nonprofit also offers workshops tailored to address the unique needs of veterans enrolled in community college. Offered at no cost to veterans and enlisted active-duty service members, the programs are designed to introduce veterans to college-level material and an academic environment while learning strategies to become better students.

During a WSP academic boot camp, participants are taught by university faculty and graduate students at the host institution with support from highly-successful student veteran fellows who have completed the program. Students are introduced to analytic reading, writing and other academic and everyday skills crucial to success in higher education. The curriculum also helps veterans adjust to life on campus and learn how to effectively engage in the classroom. Additionally, participants have the opportunity to learn about the many challenges student veterans experience during their transition to college, including the complex university application and admission process.

The introductory academic experience has a lasting impact: Ninety-nine percent of 2020 WSP participants recommend WSP to fellow veterans, and 97 percent indicated that they are more confident they will succeed in college.

“The opportunity at Yale University was life-changing as it provided me with a newfound confidence in my academic future. Learning various tools such as note-taking, essay writing and breaking problems into steps helped ease my mind that the transition from Warrior to Scholar will now be a whole lot easier. Being at Yale and being surrounded by peers and fellows who currently attend prestigious universities also helped me realize that the same future isn’t impossible for me.” — James Ines, WSP-Yale University alumnus

Apply Today!
Warrior-Scholar Project is now accepting applications for its summer 2021 academic boot camps happening between June 6 and August 13. With partners at colleges nationwide, student veterans have the unique opportunity to learn from esteemed university faculty in humanities, STEM and/or business curriculum focuses. Additionally, Warrior-Scholar Project will host its first-ever All-Woman Cohort, a one-week humanities course, at Yale University this summer in an effort to create more female and feminine spaces that are inclusive and empowering for women veterans.

Veterans looking to jumpstart their education can learn more about the program and apply at warrior-scholar.org. To ensure you have the most accurate programming information, please visit the website for up-to-date academic boot camp schedules.

Warrior-Scholar Project’s academic boot camps are exclusively for current and former enlisted service members who are intent on pursuing higher education. Typically, student veterans enjoy the full college experience from staying in dorms to eating in the dining hall to studying in the historic libraries of the host institution. With the exception of travel (if applicable), these courses are offered at no cost to the student veteran participant. WSP intends to return to on-site programming for summer 2021. However, due to pandemic-related uncertainties, WSP is unable to guarantee that all programming will be offered on site. Additionally, WSP will offer a virtual programming component. In the event that on site programming is deemed unsafe, WSP will keep applicants informed if those programs are converted to the virtual platform.

Warrior-Scholar Project has partnered with the following universities for 2021:
Yale University — Humanities and STEM course
Georgetown University — Humanities course
University of Arizona — Humanities and STEM course
Princeton University — Humanities and STEM course
University of Pennsylvania — Humanities course
University of Notre Dame — Humanities and Business course
Texas A&M — Humanities and STEM course
Pomona College — Humanities course
Columbia University — Humanities and STEM course
Harvard University — Humanities course
University of Michigan — Humanities course
Massachusetts Institute of Technology — STEM course
Syracuse University — Humanities course
Williams College — Humanities course
Cornell University— Humanities course
University of Southern California — Humanities and Business course
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Humanities course
Amherst College — Humanities course
University of Chicago — Humanities course
California Institute of Technology — STEM course
University of California, Irvine — Humanities course

To view the most up-to-date programming schedule, for more information, and to apply, visit warrior-scholar.org.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Awards $9.2 Million in Scholarships, Appoints New President and CEO

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diverse collge students waling on campus sidewalk talking with each other

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation announced it will award more than $9.2 million in academic scholarships to over 2,500 children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen for the 2021-2022 academic year. This historic announcement comes as the Scholarship Foundation appoints Ted Probert as its new President and CEO.

“I’m humbled and honored to lead the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation into its next chapter,” said Ted Probert. “For nearly 60 years, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has kept its promise to never leave the child of a Marine behind. I strongly support this commitment and look forward to working with this extraordinary team to broaden our reach and impact.”

Ted joined the Scholarship Foundation in 2018 as the Executive Vice President, Development. Serving in the Marine Corps Reserves for 21 years, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. Ted brings over 29 years of development experience to the Scholarship Foundation, highlighted by his time at Phillips Exeter Academy as both campaign director for The Exeter Initiatives, which raised $352 million, and the Director of Institutional Advancement.

“The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is stronger today than at any time in its nearly 60-year history,” said Chairman of the Board and 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert B. Neller. “Ted Probert has a strong proven track record of tirelessly working to accomplish the Scholarship Foundation’s mission of helping the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen who serve with Marines to get advanced education and training. We are excited and confident that his passion for the Scholarship Foundation, leadership, vision, and experience will allow the Scholarship Foundation to continue to grow and have an even greater impact for the Marine and Navy families we serve.”

A financial need-based scholarship, the Scholarship Foundation’s recipients reflect the diversity characteristic of the United States Marine Corps: students from all walks of life who are destined for leadership and service in a variety of professional fields. Scholarship Foundation recipients are top-tier scholars with a 90% overall graduation rate, well above national performance averages. Notably, 40% of recipients are first-generation college students and 45% pursue STEM degrees.

Messages of gratitude have poured in from recipients who are glad to be moving forward after a challenging year. “You have allowed me to focus on the most important aspect of college, learning, without the burden of student loans,” said Jake Lane, a rising junior at the University of Michigan and son of a veteran Marine. “I am eternally grateful for your kind-hearted and generous spirit and one day hope to change someone’s life in the way you have changed mine.”

About the Scholarship Foundation: Established in 1962, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is the Nation’s oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships for military children. Since its inception, the Scholarship Foundation has provided nearly 50,000 scholarships worth $155 million to the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen. For more information on the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, please visit www.mcsf.org.

SOURCE Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Three Ways Veterans Can Hone Their Skills After Service

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woodworking students move large piece of lumber on to skillsaw

By Kurt Ballash, owner of Ballash Woodworks
Military veterans are a special talent pool because we learn valuable skills that set us apart from other candidates in the workforce.

During the pandemic, the veteran unemployment rate has hovered around 5%, but there are boundless opportunities, programs and outreach groups that can help veterans hone their skills, find a job or identify an upskilling program that is best for them.

Fayetteville, N.C., which is home to the largest U.S. Army base and Army Special Operations Command, has more than 7,000 veterans entering the workforce each year. One area of opportunity for employment across the country is skilled trade jobs. A recent study found that nearly 400,000 skilled trade jobs had posted from the pandemic’s onset in March 2020 through February 2021. As veterans consider this pathway after service, they should leverage workshops, apprenticeship programs and military-friendly programs at local colleges and universities to identify the trade that is right for them.

Participate in a Workshop

Studies have shown that creative hobbies, such as woodworking, can be an effective avenue to help veterans cope with the battle scars associated with years of combat service and to help overcome PTSD. A creative workshop is also a great starting point in identifying your strengths because it’s a short-term commitment; it’s inexpensive, and it’s a fun way to learn something new.

These are a few of the reasons why I started hosting workshops at Ballash Woodworks. We’re a Fayetteville-based small business that specializes in handcrafted wood furniture, and we’ve also become a place for veterans and their families to come together for support and healing. Our workshops teach the art of woodworking, which brings veterans together through a shared trade.

Consider an Apprenticeship Program

While workshops are a great way to test the waters with new skills, apprenticeship programs take this a step further. Companies partner with workforce development organizations and education institutions to create structured programs that provide jobs to trainees as they perfect their skills over a 3- or 4-year time frame. Glassdoor says that 91% of apprentices are hired full-time at the end of their programs.

ApprenticeshipNC is busier than ever during the pandemic, as military personnel are pursuing 91E Allied Trade Specialist certifications. With this certification, apprentices can master the art of welding, machining, carpentry or one of hundreds of other trades. In North Carolina, the average program pays about $36,100 annually. The Department of Labor also approved a woodwork manufacturing specialist apprenticeship program, so industry apprentices who complete the program can receive a national, industry-recognized credential as a registered woodwork manufacturing specialist.

Ask Your Local Colleges About Their Military Programs

One of the reasons why veterans stay in Fayetteville after service is because of the access we have to military-friendly education programs and support networks with our neighbors and veterans. Victory, a media company that connects the military community to civilian employment, releases an annual ranking of the country’s most military-friendly education institutions based on factors such as student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, loan default rates and persistence to advanced degrees. It ranked Fayetteville Technical Community College in the Top 10. Have a look at programs near you. You might qualify for scholarships and have access to resources that help ease the transition from military life to campus life.

Transitioning out of the military can be a tough road, but finding a new career that will bring you joy doesn’t have to be. Opportunities at local colleges and the experts behind apprenticeship programs can help guide the way to your next path and arm you with the training needed to get there.

Woodworking is in the Ballash blood. As a child, Kurt spent afternoons in the shop where his father and grandfather crafted custom cabinets, and Kurt developed an unspoken love for the process of turning lumber into one-of-a-kind creations. When Kurt returned to Fayetteville, N.C. after serving his country, he decided to share his love for woodworking with the community by opening up Ballash Woodworks. Veteran entrepreneurs are strong contributors to the growing Cumberland County workforce, and he immediately felt a kinship to the other veterans in the region by sharing his passion with others.

ballashwoodworks.com

How to Use the Military Tuition Assistance Program

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If you’ve thought about going to college but didn’t know if you could afford it, then the Military Tuition Assistance program may be just the benefit you need.

The program is available to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members. While the decision to pursue a degree may be a difficult one personally, TA can lessen your financial concerns considerably, since it now pays up to 100 percent of tuition expenses for semester hours costing $250 or less.

Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-installation, off-installation or by distance learning. An accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education must accredit the institution. Your service branch pays your tuition directly to the school. Service members need to first check with an education counselor for the specifics involving TA by visiting their local installation education office or by going online to a virtual education center. Tuition assistance may be used for the following programs:

  • Vocational/technical programs
  • Undergraduate programs
  • Graduate program
  • Independent study
  • Distance-learning programs

Eligibility

All four service branches and the U.S. Coast Guard offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of service members’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be eligible for TA based on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.

Coverage Amounts and Monetary Limits

The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100 percent of your college tuition and certain fees with the following limits:

  • Not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
  • Not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30

Tuition Assistance Versus the Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits

While the TA program is offered by the services, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of education benefit programs. Some of the VA programs, such as the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, can work well with the TA program, as it can supplement fees not covered by TA. In addition, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® funds are available to you after you leave the military. If your service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use this benefit. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit won’t expire. The TA program is a benefit that is available only while you’re in the service.

Tuition Assistance Benefits and Restrictions

Tuition assistance will cover the following expenses:

  • Tuition
  • Course-specific fees, such as laboratory fee or online course fee

NOTE: All fees must directly relate to the specific course enrollment of the service member.

Tuition assistance will not cover the following expenses:

  • Books and course materials
  • Flight training fees
  • Taking the same course twice
  • Continuing education units, or CEUs

Keep in mind that TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid, if any of the following situations occur:

  • Leaving the service before the course ends
  • Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
  • Failing the course

Application Process

Each military branch has its own TA application form and procedures. To find out how to get started, visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force

Prior to your course enrollment, you may be required to develop an education plan or complete TA orientation. Keep the following important information in mind when you apply:

  • Military tuition assistance may only be used to pursue degree programs at colleges and universities in the United States that are regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S Department of Education. A quick way to check the accreditation of a school is by visiting the Department of Education.
  • Your service’s education center must approve your military tuition assistance before you enroll in a course.

Top-Up Program

The Top-up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds.

  • To use Top-up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You also must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty.
  • First apply for TA in accordance with procedures of your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online from the VA. Specify “Top-up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.

Other Supplemental Funding Possibilities

Aside from using the MGIB-AD or Post-9/11 GI Bill for items, such as tuition and fees not covered by TA, there are other funding opportunities available to service members, including the following:

  • Federal and state financial aid. The federal government provides $150 billion per year in grants, work-study programs and federal loans to college students. The aid comes in several forms, including need-based programs, such as Pell grants, subsidized Stafford Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants and federal work/study programs. You can also get low-interest loans through the federal government. Visit Federal Student Aid to find out more or complete an online application for FAFSA at no cost to you.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

5 Steps to Prepare for Higher Education

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Veteran in uniform holding books with a U.S. flag behind him

Perhaps you’ve decided to pick up some valuable knowledge. Maybe you’re leaving the service and need to re-create yourself.

No matter why you’re pursuing higher education, you need a game plan — a course of action to get you from today to that moment you walk across the stage holding your diploma in hand. Here are some practical steps to take.

Step one: Contact the Voluntary Education Program

Before you get buried in college brochures, speak with an education professional through the Voluntary Education Program.

An education professional can help guide you through the planning and paying for your education, as well as eligibility requirements. Find the right contact information below depending on your service:

Army Continuing Education: 888-276-9472

Marine Corps Voluntary Education Program: 703-784-9550

Navy College Program: 877-838-1659

Air Force Education Programs: 240-612-4016

Coast Guard Institute: 405-954-1028

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support:
https://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html#sthash.clpke3kI.dpbs

Step two: Choose a college

Deciding which college to attend is much easier when you have the right information. As a service member, you have access to useful resources such as the College Navigator, a free online tool from the National Center for Education Statistics. The College Navigator provides information on more than 7,000 postsecondary education institutions, so you can compare schools’ tuition, financial aid, accreditation information, graduation and retention rates and more.

TA DECIDE is another helpful tool for comparing schools and programs. Designed for participants of the Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance Program, it provides education costs and outcomes, as well as information about other military students who are participating in the tuition assistance program.

Step three: Take your college admission exams

Get ready for some studying even before college begins. Most colleges and universities require admission exams with your application, such as the SAT Reasoning Test, the SAT Subject Tests, the American College Testing (ACT) Readiness Assessment, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the General Education Development Test.

The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES, can help you prepare for enrollment and cover the cost of some academic tests. DANTES also offers college prep resources that can help you prepare for these admission exams, sharpen study skills, and identify your interests and aptitudes in choosing an area of study or career path. Visit DANTES to learn more or to contact a counselor.

Step four: Convert your military experience to college credit

The tests you endured in combat can count just as much as quizzes in a classroom. The Joint Services Transcript converts your military experience into civilian college credit, providing documented evidence to colleges and universities of professional military education, training and occupation experiences. The Joint Services Transcript is a collaborative transcript program that replaces previous transcript programs, making it easier for colleges to read and recommend credits.

Step five: Understand your financing options

As a service member, you have several options that can help fund your schooling — so that you can concentrate on studying, not paying the bills. The education consultants at Military OneSource can help you identify grants and other kinds of assistance for which you are eligible. Here is a sampling of programs and loans available:

  • Military tuition assistance — provided by each service branch, offering up to $4,500 of assistance per fiscal year
  • Montgomery GI Bill® and MGIB Tuition Top-Up Programs — funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Tax credits and deductions — such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit
  • Federal grants and loans — such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunities Grant.

You’re just a few steps away from achieving your education goals. Remember to reach out to your network of support and contact an education professional through your service’s Voluntary Education Program.

Source: Military OneSource

Student Veterans of America National Virtual Conference 2021 – Coming February 19!

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Join the largest annual convening of Post-9/11 veterans in the world. NatCon returns on February 19-20 and will be held in the Virtual Conference Hall.

After listening to the concerns of Chapter Leaders across the country, Student Veterans of America (SVA) recognized the need to create the most inclusive and accessible National Conference (NatCon) ever. We’ve re-imagined the entire experience virtually to remove any barriers so you can focus on your Chapter’s most important leadership asset: You!

NatCon 2021 is powered by the latest event technology to deliver all of the benefits of an in-person NatCon to you at home. Join thousands of students from across the country, inspiring speakers, leading employers, and thought leaders to exchange ideas and best practices on topics that matter: thriving in a virtual world, growing and sustaining your SVA Chapter, funding and fundraising, addressing racial injustice, and more.

DON’T MISS

Main Stage Speakers & Entertainers
The SVA Honors Gala
40+ Breakout Sessions
The SVA Campus
Live Q+As
Fitness Activities
1-on-1 Networking
Social Hours

Fins out more and register today at  studentveterans.org

 

Warrior-Scholar Project Partners with Yale University to Host One-Week Winter STEM Program for Veterans

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Yale University

While most college first-year students are recent high school graduates, for some, higher education is made possible by military benefits — leading many veterans to struggle with adjusting to the college experience after serving.

In an effort to help student veterans acclimate to civilian life and successfully complete undergraduate programs, national nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) has partnered with Yale University to host a virtual Winter STEM Academic Boot Camp from Dec. 13-18. The intensive physics-based curriculum, offered at no cost to enlisted service members, is designed to help veterans prepare for an academic environment while learning strategies to become better students.

The WSP-Yale Winter STEM Academic Boot Camp is open to veterans who have transitioned out of the military or active duty service members who are within two years of separation and haven’t already participated in a WSP STEM boot camp. Veterans looking to jumpstart their education can learn more about the program and apply here.

Though the program is being held completely online in response to the pandemic, students will have the opportunity to learn from Yale faculty, including the esteemed Marla Geha, professor in the Astronomy and Physics departments, and Jack Harris, professor of Physics and Applied Physics. Additionally, students will receive mentoring from fellow veterans and begin to adjust to a formal learning environment — all key components of the in-person program that were adapted for a virtual setting.

“The STEM program [at Yale] was informative, and I had a lot of fun! I feel more comfortable going into an introductory physics class,” said Ciara Slusarz, a U.S. Navy veteran who participated in the WSP-Yale 2020 summer boot camp. “Having a class with very passionate instructors and students definitely helped me understand and appreciate the material and made me feel like I would be able to do well in this sort of college class.”

The first-ever WSP program was piloted at Yale in 2012, making this the ninth year that the university has partnered with the national nonprofit — bolstering the school’s reach to local veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 184,000 veterans reside in Connecticut. Often, service members face extraordinary challenges acclimating to civilian life and Warrior-Scholar Project helps them find camaraderie and guidance during a challenging time in their lives. Support from Yale University and investments made by foundations, corporations, and private donors cover the entire cost of the program for participants. Since the program began, nearly 200 veterans have attended WSP at Yale University.
About Warrior-Scholar Project

Warrior-Scholar Project empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities. Through intensive and immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps, participants gain skills required for success and support for the cultural shift from the military to higher education at top-tier schools. Throughout WSP’s free resident education programs, students are traditionally housed on campus, and engage in challenging discussions with accomplished professors, receiving tailored instruction on key skills like analytical reading and college-level writing. 2020 academic boot camps follow a virtual version of this program due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Warrior-Scholar Project is a national nonprofit with programs at public and private colleges and universities across the country. For more information, visit www.warrior-scholar.org.

About Yale University
Since its founding in 1701, Yale has been dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and preserving cultural and scientific information for future generations. Yale’s reach is both local and international. It partners with its hometown of New Haven, Connecticut to strengthen the city’s community and economy. And it engages with people and institutions across the globe in the quest to promote cultural understanding, improve the human condition, delve more deeply into the secrets of the universe, and train the next generation of world leaders.

3 Ways VA Helps Military Spouses Continue Their Education

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Cheerful multiethnic woman walking to class smilin

Military spouses can take advantage of programs that help continue their education and develop fulfilling careers working with our nation’s veterans.

Those interested in continuing their education to advance a career need look no further than VA.

More than 500,000 military spouses in the U.S. are underemployed or unemployed. We’re committed to helping them enjoy meaningful careers by partnering with the DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) program.

“By taking this pledge, we demonstrated our commitment to working with DoD and military installations across the country to engage military spouses in conversation about career opportunities across the country,” said Tracey Therit, chief human capital officer at VA.

As a VA employee, you could enjoy access to a robust range of programs to support your ongoing education. Here are three ways we offer education support to our employees:

  1. Scholarships. The Department of Defense grants military spouses up to $4,000 in tuition help to pursue licenses, certifications or associate degrees in targeted fields through the My Career Advancement Account scholarship. We also offer several scholarship opportunities to our VA employees. If you’re a nurse, you can receive nearly $40,000 to continue your nursing studies and earn a baccalaureate or advanced nursing degree. Get a tax-free scholarship of up to $40,117 to pursue a health care degree through the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program or the same generous scholarship plus salary replacement through the VA National Education for Employees Program.

 

  1. Loan repayment and reimbursement. Your federal student loans are often eligible for forgiveness as a federal employee at VA. On top of that, we also offer up to $10,000 per year for six years in loan repayment help for employees in certain occupations.
  1. Internal training and education. Keep your education going while on the job. Our Employee Education System offers education and training, including accredited courses and programs, to improve outcomes, operations and administration. Take advantage of our leadership training program, state-of-the-art satellite system that delivers digital educational programming 24/7, a web-based training portal, and agreements with colleges and universities close to many VA facilities.

With this support, you can continue your education and grow into the rewarding career you’ve been looking for, all while serving veterans at VA facilities across the nation.

Source:  va.gov

How to Prepare for Higher Education

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Notebook, diploma and pencils on white table image for military education

Perhaps you’ve decided to pick up some valuable knowledge. Maybe you’re leaving the service and need to re-create yourself. No matter why you’re pursuing higher education, you need a game plan—a course of action to get you from today to that moment you walk across the stage, holding your diploma in hand. Here are some practical steps to take.

Step one: Contact the Voluntary Education Program

Before you get buried in college brochures, speak with an education professional through the Voluntary Education Program. An education professional can help guide you through the planning and paying for your education, as well as eligibility requirements. Find the right contact information below depending on your service:


Step two: Choose a college

Deciding which college to attend is much easier when you have the right information. As a service member, you have access to useful resources such as the College Navigator, a free online tool from the National Center for Education Statistics. The College Navigator provides information on more than 7,000 postsecondary education institutions, so you can compare schools’ tuition, financial aid, accreditation information, graduation and retention rates and more.

TA DECIDE is another helpful tool for comparing schools and programs. Designed for participants of the Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance Program, it provides education costs and outcomes, as well as information about other military students who are participating in the tuition assistance program.
Step three: Take your college admission exams

Get ready for some studying even before college begins. Most colleges and universities require admission exams with your application, such as the SAT Reasoning Test, the SAT Subject Tests, the American College Testing (ACT) Readiness Assessment, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the General Education Development Test.
The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES, can help you prepare for enrollment and cover the cost of some academic tests. DANTES also offers college prep resources that can help you prepare for these admission exams, sharpen study skills, and identify your interests and aptitudes in choosing an area of study or career path. Visit DANTES to learn more or to contact a counselor.


Step four: Convert your military experience to college credit

The tests you endured in combat can count just as much as quizzes in a classroom. The Joint Services Transcript converts your military experience into civilian college credit, providing documented evidence to colleges and universities of professional military education, training and occupation experiences. The Joint Services Transcript is a collaborative transcript program that replaces previous transcript programs, making it easier for colleges to read and recommend credits.
Step five: Understand your financing options

As a service member, you have several options that can help fund your schooling—so that you can concentrate on studying, not paying the bills. The education consultants at Military OneSource can help you identify grants and other kinds of assistance for which you are eligible. Here is a sampling of programs and loans available:

  • Military tuition assistance—provided by each service branch, offering up to $4,500 of assistance per fiscal year
  • Montgomery GI Bill® and MGIB Tuition Top-Up Programs—funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Tax credits and deductions—such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit
  • Federal grants and loans—such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunities Grant.

You’re just a few steps away from achieving your education goals. Remember to reach out to your network of support, including Military OneSource education consultants. You may also want to contact an education professional through your service’s Voluntary Education Program.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

5 Ways to Squeeze Every Dime Out of Your GI Bill Benefits

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metal device squeezing a copper penny

By Ron Kness

Having 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits is an earned entitlement valued by veterans that many civilians would do anything to get their hands on. It is one reward we receive for the hardships endured while serving.

However, without careful and deliberate management, this benefit can end up wasted or not used to its full potential.

To assist you in the best use of your Post 9/11 GI Bill, consider the five ways mentioned below and apply the ones pertinent to you to get the most out of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits post-secondary education benefits.

 

MONTGOMERY GI BILL (MGIB) VS. POST 9/11 GI BILL BENEFITS

Since 2009, more and more veterans have both of these GI Bills. And while it is easy to gravitate toward using the Post 9/11 GI Bill because in most cases it pays more, your education goal can be a factor that can determine which one you should use first. Under the current VA rules, veterans must give up their MGIB if using their Post 9/11, so they only get 36 months total in eligibility.

However, by using all 36 months of their MGIB first, they can get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. This can be useful if pursing an advanced degree, as it provides an additional year of entitlement that in most cases will pay for half of an advanced degree.

Recently, the courts ruled that the VA could not force veterans to give up their MGIB to use their Post 9/11. If the decision stands, veterans would be able to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits first and then use 12 months of their MGIB. The part that would remain unchanged though is that both GI Bills could not be used at the same time.

HYBRID VS. ONLINE

Online-only students using their Post 9/11 GI Bill receive half of the amount that students taking classes on campus receive in Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). However, by taking just one class at a local campus, and the rest of your classes online, you can get the full housing allowance. The key of course to make this work is your resident class must credit toward your degree plan.

YELLOW RIBBON PROGRAM

While the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays full tuition and fees for veterans at the 100 percent tier attending a public school, it only pays $25,162.14 per year, if going to a private school. With some schools charging over twice this amount, it can leave a considerable unpaid balance. This must be paid by the student using scholarships, grants, student loans, personal funds, or some combination thereof.

But if the school is part of the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, the school can pay up to 50 percent of the unpaid amount with the VA paying an equal amount. Do the math, and it is easy to see that reduces the unpaid amount to zero. You can check here to see if your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program and the specifics of their program.

EDITH NOURSE ROGERS STEM SCHOLARSHIP

One of the changes brought about by the Forever GI Bill was to set up a scholarship for veteran students majoring in one of the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering or math. Typically, these degree fields require more than four years to complete, and in the past, most STEM student ran out of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits before finishing their degree. But with the shortage of STEM qualified people, this scholarship is an incentive for students to finish that last year of school without the worry of how they are going to pay for it. It is on a first-come, first-serve basis, but if selected, it pays for an additional year of school up to $30,000.

THE TWO-YEAR SCHOOL ADVANTAGE

If an advanced degree is in your education plan, another way to maximize your GI Bill benefits is to take your first two years of post-secondary education at a junior or community college and pay for it out-of-pocket. Typically, these schools are less expensive than four-year universities or colleges.

Doing it this way leaves your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement intact and can be used to pay for the last two years of your bachelor’s degree and two years to finish a master’s degree with little to no out-of-pocket costs.

GI BIL BENEFITS – VALUABLE TOOL FOR VETERANS

There you have it—five ways to squeeze every dime out of your hard-earned GI Bill benefits. Use them wisely because once they are gone, they are gone forever. They are too valuable to waste!

Source: clearancejobs.com

How Does an MBA Benefit a Military Career?

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When most people think of the military, business school is the furthest thing from their minds. Granted, the entertainment industry commonly showcases career paths like military lawyers or special law enforcement agents, though we rarely get a glimpse of former or active military working in the business sector.

Business has always had a strong pull for service members, but this phenomenon tends to fly under the pop culture radar. For real people—not characters on a TV show—pursuing an advanced business degree in addition to serving their country is both financially and personally rewarding.

The Military Advantage

While the military does not provide much business training, it does instill qualities in its personnel that businesses seek. Due to the similar skill sets in both fields, an MBA for military personnel is a natural choice. Contrary to popular perception, strong leadership in the military does not rely on rigid orders. Ed Robinson, veteran special ops team leader, points to a different skill set: Discerning what motivates soldiers. For that reason, Robinson sees military leadership skills as not only comparable to business skills but perhaps even better. Speaking to The Economist, he says “The military is simply better than business at getting people to do what you want them to do.”

Kyle Bate, former U.S. Air Force Deputy Commander, agrees that an MBA for military personnel is a natural fit. Veterans or active military looking to pursue a career in business after their service have the right experience for the field. He points to leadership, problem-solving, communication, teamwork and critical thinking skills as “highly desirable in both an MBA program and also corporate America.”
The MBA Advantage

Even though it may be easier for veterans to find time to earn an MBA than it is for active-duty personnel, there are options to help those on active duty. Some soldiers have found that online MBA programs offer the best fit for their lifestyles while serving. Flexible class schedules and accelerated programs allow soldiers to manage their time more effectively and study when it is convenient.

Both veterans and active military can benefit from earning an MBA. Beyond the skill set they share with business professionals, military personnel also have a financial advantage: The GI Bill. The University of West Florida, for example, offers discounted tuition prices for active duty military, veterans, spouses and dependents of military personnel. Earning an advanced degree without accruing student debt motivates an increasing number of military personnel to enhance their career paths with an MBA.

Source: getonline.uwf.edu

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