Come next fall, the college hopes that more veterans will be populating Albion’s campus, thanks to a recently launched initiative.
According to Doug Kellar, vice president of enrollment management, the college developed the initiative, a campaign designed to attract veterans to the college, in response to the new GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program created by the federal government. Beginning in August, the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program will offer specific benefits to qualifying veterans who decide to attend private colleges.
The GI Bill will cover tuition expenses up to the amount that the highest priced public institution in the state costs, Kellar said. The Yellow Ribbon Program will cover up to half of the additional cost at a private institution.
Kellar said that attracting more veterans who qualified for the benefits offered by the new federal programs was a move that would benefit the college financially. The college currently hopes to attract five to six new veterans in time for the next academic year.
“Our average discount of tuition is higher than (what) we would be contributing under this program,” Kellar said.
Kellar added that he thought the veterans would also bring diversity and offer a different perspective to the student body.
Last fall, a veteran’s advisory committee, made up of faculty and staff with a military background, along with one student veteran, was developed to decide what kind of accommodations would need to be taken for veterans who might attend the college as well as to determine how to best attract potential veteran attendees, according to Keller.
He said that very few accommodations have been finalized yet, primarily due to the fact that the college does not yet know how many veterans will be attracted by the new proposal.
“You can’t move too fast on preparing and assigning space, or building too much program until you have a critical mass,” Kellar said. “Because we have less overall enrollment, we’re going to be in a position where we’ll be able to adjust around a little bit and accommodate their interests.”
Shane Jackson, Worthington, Minn. sophomore, served on the veteran’s advisory committee. A six-year Navy veteran, Jackson said that he thought the veteran’s initiative was a good idea for both college and veterans.
“It makes sense in a time when fewer kids can go to college because of whatever reason, because their parents lost their jobs, that the money the veterans get is set in stone, for the most part,” Jackson said. “I go here on the current GI Bill without any assistance from my parents, and despite the change in the economic climate, I’m still getting the same amount of money as I did before.”
Jackson said that for the most part, his transition to Albion had been reasonably easy, but that the current lack of veterans made it hard to get attention from the administration. This has created problems in matching up the payment schedules of the college and GI Bill.
“The way it works out, the college wants its money at the beginning of the semester,” Jackson said. “The way the GI Bill works out is they pay you a monthly stipend, so I get paid at the beginning of each month for the month prior.”
Jackson said at this point, he wasn’t sure whether the benefits that he currently received will change under the new GI Bill. Currently, he has more than the three years of service after 9/11 that are required to receive full benefits from the bill.
“As far as the nationwide program, they’ve outlined a lot of what the program’s going to be about, including this Yellow Ribbon program thing that the private colleges can get in on, but they’re free to change the rules around until the day it goes into affect,” Jackson said. “I don’t know how it works for somebody like me who’s already halfway (through college), who’s used the old one. I’m not sure if it’s mandatory.”