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ETSU seeks to make veterans entry easy

Rex Barber • Jun 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Applying for college admission can be full of paperwork, perhaps even more for veterans seeking to use the benefits they’ve earned through military service, but East Tennessee State University tries to make the process easy.

If you’re a veteran who wants to enter ETSU, the first step in understanding veteran’s educational benefits and what you need to do is call Kevin Flanary, the veterans affairs coordinator for the university.

Flanary said the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the main veterans’ educational benefit used now. This benefit is based on how much time a veteran has served since Sept. 11, 2001. Basically, Flanary said, 36 months or more of service after that date makes a veteran eligible to receive 100 percent of tuition and fees, up to $500 per semester for books and around $930 per month for housing.

“It helps a lot of them, you know,” Flanary said.

The HOPE Lottery Scholarship and Pell Grants do not count against the GI Bill benefits. Besides the GI Bill, students in the National Guard or a branch of the reserves can get tuition assistance up to $4,500 per year. Flanary pointed out military personnel can pass their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependents if they have not yet retired from military service.

Between 280 and 300 veterans use the Post-9/11 GI Bill at ETSU. There are 534 veterans attending ETSU.

The Army and Marines plan to reduce their forces by 80,000 and 20,000 troops, respectively. Flanary expects to see an increase in veterans as ETSU students when this occurs.

But he is happy to assist with any needs they may have or information they may need.

Once a veteran is in school, Flanary said sometimes there are issues in the transition from a military setting to a classroom setting, said Flanary, who is a veteran himself.

“We’ve got resources for them that we can refer them to,” Flanary said.

Sometimes veterans may have taken college classes prior to enlisting in the service. Flanary said these courses may count upon re-enrolling in college depending on the university and program of study. Military experience can count, too.

“They’ll get some credit just for the military courses they went through,” Flanary said.

ETSU will review a student’s military records and find things that will transfer and count toward a degree.

Flanary said many veterans are seeking higher education due to the recession and poor job market. The national unemployment rate has bounced from between 7 and 10 percent over the past four to five years. For veterans, unemployment is typically greater than 20 percent.

ETSU has consistently been ranked as among the top-rated schools in the nation for veterans seeking a bachelor’s degree, Flanary said.

“We try to simplify things, because we know where they’ve been on active duty they’ve put up with a whole lot of bureaucracy,” Flanary said.

For more information regarding veterans’ educational benefits and ETSU, call the school’s Veterans Affairs office at 439-6819 or email the office at va@ etsu.edu.

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