This recognition means that SCC ranks in the top 15 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide offering the best education, value and welcome for veterans. Over the past four years the number of students receiving Veterans Affairs education benefits at SCC increased from 63 to 89. For the 2009-10 academic year, the 89 students taking advantage of education benefits so far have received $492,661.22 in aid.
As a recipient of this honor, Surry Community College will be included in the 2011 Guide to Military Friendly Schools which publishes this month as well as a basic listing online at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com.
“We’re thrilled to be able to provide a high level of service to those who have sacrificed for our country,” said Jamie Childress, vice president of student development. “As we continue to withdraw our troops I expect a surge in the requests for retraining.”
The Military Friendly Schools recipients were determined based on a weighted formula. Forty-five percent of the score comes from certifications, programs and policies which measures a school’s non-financial efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students. Another 35 percent of the score comes from a school’s financial efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students. Fifteen percent of the score comes from a school’s results or success in recruiting military and veteran students while the remaining 5 percent is allocated to other categories including the school’s academic accreditation’s.
“We go out of our way to help out veterans. We try to get them in the best situation we can. With what they’ve been through and what they’ve seen and then to have to come back into a more normal life is hard for them,” said Tammy Fletcher, assistant financial aid director and veterans certifying official at SCC.
The assistance the college provides to veterans starts even before they register for their first class. According to Fletcher, many active duty people in the military will call the college when they know they will be discharged in order to get the enrollment process started even before they are back in the United States. Once they return to the states, Fletcher will sit down with them to determine what type of classes they need to take and what degree they may be interested in.
Fletcher and other staff members also help the veterans wade through all of the paperwork they have to complete during the process in order to get the benefits. She helps them create military transcripts if they have had specific training while in the military as well as fill out financial aid paperwork.
“I try to ease the burden of paperwork as much as I can,” she said.
The relationship the college staff has with the veterans continues even after the enrollment process is complete.
“If they have problems once their classes start I tell them to just call me. I tell them any changes they need to make to come and talk to me about it. I work with them really closely,” said Fletcher. “I think we have a good relationship with the veteran students. The VA students are very appreciative of everything you do for them.”
According to the type of military career the veterans had, whether they were a member of the Army, Marine, Corps, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard or if they joined the Reserves or the National Guard, they are eligible for different degrees of benefits. Students fill out an application which is submitted to the Veterans Affairs office which determines how much money the student is eligible for each month based on the number of credit hours.
“The VA determines for how many months they are entitled to receive education benefits,” said Fletcher.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has extended the length of time for which veterans can receive benefits to up to 36 months, which means they can transfer that money to a four-year institution after attending community college. The funding also provides a basic housing allowance, a book stipend and money for tuition and fees. Tuition and other related fees are paid to the college by the VA. The housing allowance and book stipend are sent to the veterans.
Veterans benefits also extend to the children of some veterans. According to Fletcher, around 12 or 15 of the 89 recipients this year are the children of veterans. She said most students taking advantage of these benefits at the college are those just coming off active duty and range from 22 to 25 years old.
Contact Morgan Wall at email@example.com or 719-1929.