Supporting Student Veterans
These days, there are many educational opportunities for veterans in the U.S. In June 2008, former President George W. Bush signed the Post-9/11 G.I. Education Assistance Act into law. Also known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Act improved education benefits for veterans who have served in the military since 9/11. The centerpiece of the enhanced benefits is 36 months of funding for education, including tuition, fees and living expenses. An allowance of up to $1,000 per year is also included for books, supplies and other education-related expenditures.
But taking advantage of these benefits can be challenging. Settling back into civilian life is overwhelming enough without having to confront a bunch of red tape to get funding for your education. That's where groups like the Student Veterans of America (SVA) come in.
Founded in 2008, the SVA is 'dedicated to helping yesterday's warriors become today's scholars and tomorrow's leaders.' The group eases the transition from military service to college education in four key ways:
- Building a support network on campuses nationwide through student groups and resources.
- Creating policies and programs that help veterans transition into the classroom.
- Centralizing the resources that student veterans need to graduate.
- Providing state and national advocacy for the student veteran population.
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In order to achieve the above goals, SVA provides a variety of services on the individual and national levels. For example, the organization both lobbies at legislative forums to promote the G.I. Bill and helps student veterans navigate the process of determining eligibility, applying for and utilizing Bill entitlements.
In addition to G.I. Bill benefits, the organization helps vets pay for their education through a scholarship fund. Applicants must be a member of any of SVA's chapters, which currently number over 260 at campuses across the country. Qualifying for the scholarship is based on a variety of factors, including financial need, academics, commitment to other student veterans and volunteerism.
SVA also promotes volunteerism through its Community Service Initiative (CSI). The CSI honors the commitment to service demonstrated by military veterans, and connects them with extracurricular volunteer opportunities in their local communities. To encourage participation in the initiative, SVA has become a certifying organization in President Obama's Volunteer Service Award program, making vets who demonstrate outstanding service in the CSI eligible for the award.
Other programs operated by SVA include grants distributed to individual student veteran group chapters, day-long 'warrior summits' that offer a centralized information source for veterans seeking an education and regional and national conferences to promote educational advocacy for military veterans.
Visit the official website to learn more about the Student Veterans of America.
Veterans: Still looking for the right college? Check out the 2011 guide to military friendly schools, and don't miss these tips on getting college credit for your military experience.