Appendix R

1/24/17

SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID and EDUCATIONAL EQUITY AND CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT

Penn State Veterans – Historical Perspectives

(Informational)

INTRODUCTION

The following information provides the history and background of the G.I. Bill and programs offered through Penn State. The goal is to provide a better understanding of how active-duty military and veterans pay for their schooling as well as inform members of the Faculty Senate about other programs offered to support them while they attend school.

DISCUSSION

The G.I. Bill

At the end of World War II, returning veterans were provided with training and education benefits to assist in their transition to civilian life. This came to be known as the G.I. Bill of Rights or the G.I. Bill. Those who attended colleges and universities using this benefit had their entire tuition paid by the Veterans Administration (VA), and received a monthly living allowance. It is estimated that at least one million veterans were able to get a college education. In spite of the economic benefit a college education provided, many felt the G.I. Bill was too generous. It was not continued for veterans who served after World War II.

Korean and Vietnam War veterans had G.I. Bills of their own, but in both cases, the veterans received only a monthly subsistence allowance and no funds for tuition. Veterans who were seriously disabled as a result of their service were eligible to participate in the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which pays the school for all tuition and mandatory fees. However, relatively few veterans qualified as seriously disabled, so for most veterans of the Korean and Vietnam War eras, they had to figure out a way to cover the costs through work or personal loans.

People entering the military service after 1976 were not eligible for the Vietnam Era G.I. Bill. Their only option for educational benefits was to participate in the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Under this program a service member could contribute up to $2,700 that would be matched two to one by the VA for a maximum entitlement of $8,100. The veteran could then receive this money in monthly payments of subsistence allowance while attending college.

In 1985, the Montgomery G.I. Bill was passed into law. This created separate G.I. Bills – one for National Guard and Reservists and one for active duty military. Like VEAP, there was a contribution required by the active-duty service people of $1,200. However, the Montgomery legislation contained a provision for an annual Cost of Living Adjustment. Thus, by 2000, the full-time monthly rate had reached $650 for the Active Duty participants and $253 for the National Guard and Reservists. To create more incentive to enlist, and to channel enlistees to those military occupations that were difficult to recruit to (combat arms, for example) all branches were allowed to offer “College Funds” which are referred to as “kickers.”

Post 9/11 G.I. Bill

On August 1, 2009, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill began. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the tremendous sacrifices this required of service personnel, led Congress to conclude a better G. I. bill was necessary. Any veteran with qualifying service after 9/11/2001 was eligible to participate. Because of the relatively small size of the active military, many National Guard and Reservists had been activated and sent to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. In order to recognize this fact, a sliding scale of eligibility was established. Those with at least 90 days of qualifying service are eligible for 40 percent of the benefit, increasing incrementally until 100 percent eligibility is reached for those with at least 36 months.

This program has three separate payment components: a tuition payment made directly to the university the member is enrolled at, a book allowance, and a monthly Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payment paid to the student. All three components are scaled according to percentage of eligibility.

For those with maximum eligibility, it covers 100 percent of the in-state tuition. For non-resident students and those attending private institutions, a provision called the “Yellow Ribbon Program” enabled the institution to split the difference with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Effective August 1, 2016, new legislation called the “Choice Act” went into effect. This requires public institutions treat all VA benefit recipients as residents for tuition purposes.

The book allowance is a fixed amount of up to $1,000 per year for 24 credits taken. So, for a student with 100 percent eligibility, they receive $41.66 per credit until the money is exhausted or the academic year ends.

The BAH the student receives at the end of each month of enrollment. The payment rate is based on the location of the institution and the amount varies. The formula is an attempt to estimate the actual cost of housing for that area. The BAH payment is only paid when school is in session. So, where there are partial months of enrollment (i.e. August, December, January, May), a prorated amount is paid.

There were two additional features of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill that were new to VA educational programs. The first was transferability. This feature was aimed at retaining people in the military and encouraging them to make it their career. Under the transferability option, an active duty service member who has served for ten years and agrees to remain on active duty can transfer their entitlement to their spouse and dependent children. The service member only has a maximum of 36 months of benefits to transfer, but can adjust the amount transferred to a dependent whenever he/she wishes. Transferred entitlement does not affect the recipient’s eligibility for any other VA educational benefit.

The second new feature was the lengthening of the time a veteran has in which to use his/her G.I. Bill. Under the most recent G.I. Bills (Vietnam Era, VEAP and Montgomery) veterans had ten years from their date of discharge to use all of their G.I. Bill benefits. Under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, veterans have fifteen years to do so. This additional time recognizes that fact that many veterans have personal, family and vocational issues to resolve before pursuing their education. Veterans get no additional entitlement, just the additional time to use their G.I Bill.

In 2009, along with the enactment of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, an important change was made that affected all VA educational benefit recipients. A new law specified all VA benefits must be ignored when calculating and awarding any other form of student financial aid. Beginning that year, all VA benefits recipients had their aid calculated on the basis of their merit and need and that’s how it currently stands.

Veterans Population at Penn State

As described below: January 24, 2017 Agenda, Appendix R, Chart 1

The veteran population at Penn State has more than doubled since 2008, totaling 4,257 for the Fall 2015 semester, representing over 4 percent of total population enrolled during that time. The term “veteran” in this regard refers to discharged military veterans as well as all active duty military, reserve/national guard, and dependents currently enrolled in both graduate and undergraduate programs. This increase is largely due to the advent of the Post 9/11 GI Bill as well as increased eligibility for the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

To be considered as an independent student, based on veteran status, the Department of Education uses the following definition:

A veteran is a former member of the Armed Forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) who served on active duty and was discharged under conditions, which were other than dishonorable. There is no minimum number of days a student must have served on active duty to be considered a veteran. However, periods of active duty for training, pursuant to an enlistment in the National Guard or Reserves, do not qualify a student as a veteran. Thus former or current members of the National Guard or Reserves are not considered to be veterans unless they had prior or subsequent service with an active component of the Armed Forces. (Reservists called to active duty by Executive Order qualify as veterans.) Since the DD Form 214 is issued to those leaving the active military as well as to members of the National Guard and Reserves completing their initial active duty for training, possession of this document does not necessarily mean the student is a veteran. Persons who attended military academies are now considered veterans for financial aid purposes.

Office of Veterans Programs  – Penn State University Park (974 students)

  • Director: Dr. Brian Clark, Veteran, US Army
  • Associate Director: Renee Thornton-Roop, Veteran, US Air Force
  • Outreach Coordinator: Mary Fisk, First Sergeant (Ret.), US Marine Corps
  • Lead Certifying Official: Elisa Van Cise, Major, US Air Force Reserves
  • Certifying Official: Lauren Fend, US Air Force Dependent
  • Office Manager: Christine Evans, US Navy Dependent

The Office of Veterans Programs provides the certification of all GI Bill benefits for the UP population. The Certifying Official Staff are also trained counselors (two are licensed mental health providers) that assist in delivery of holistic, case management based services to veterans and dependents using GI Bill benefits.

Current Services/Initiatives:

  • Certification of GI Bill Benefits
  • General and Academic Counseling
  • Administration of the VA Vocational Rehab & Employment Program
  • Advocacy for Veterans’ Issues on Campus
  • Outreach to Prospective and Current Students at all campuses
  • Veterans/Dependent Specific Programming (Orientation/First Year Seminar/Psycho-Educational Groups)
  • Processing of Priority Registration and Military Honor Cord for all Campuses
  • A Student Sponsor Program for Newly Incoming Veteran Students
  • A Veterans Mentor/Tutor program marrying veteran/veteran friendly staff and faculty members with veteran students
  • Office Space for Veterans Fraternity and Student Veterans Organization
  • Supervision of Twenty-Five VA Work-Study Students
  • Ongoing Assessment of Veteran Needs/Programming Opportunities
  • Training and Assistance for School Certifying Officials/Veterans’ Advocates at all Campuses
  • Representation of Penn State for all Veterans Issues in the Community, Regionally, and Nationally

Military Scholarships Awarded at University Park:
The office awarded 11 military specific scholarships in 2016 including:

ScholarshipNumber of
Recipients
Amount
-TOTAL$23,301
*Jerry and Jacquelyn Grossman Scholarship for U.S. Military Veterans 3$4,672
*George W. and Joanne T. Rauchfuss Scholarship for Veterans 1$2,500
*Veterans Special Needs Endowed Scholarship2$5,278
* Betty H. Gofus Trustee Scholarship in Educational Equity2$7,213
*Marvin and Lillian Perelman Scholarship1$500
*The Rehab Club Memorial Scholarship2$3138

Penn State World Campus Military Services/Initiatives for Students (2,235 students)
Penn State World Campus was ranked “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans” 2016, “Best for Vets” by Military Times 2016, Military Friendly School 2016, Military Advanced Education and Transition — Guide to Top Colleges and Universities 2016.

Penn State World Campus has a staff dedicated to military prospects and students including:

  • Cross-functional military team with representatives from all Penn State World Campus units including Admissions, Bursar, Financial Aid, Registrar, Advising, Disability Services, Program Planning and Management and support services.
  • Director of Military Education focused on developing relationships nationwide with military and Penn State World Campus.
  • Southern California Outreach Director focused on developing relationships in Southern California and Western USA with military and Penn State World Campus.
  • Three full-time Military Admissions Counselors as of November 2016. One Counselor working at Marine Corp Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego.
  • Six full-time undergraduate Military Academic Advisers as of November 2016 with one of these serving as a liaison to the Disability Services team who helps train academic advisers on how best to coach, support and refer students to this team. Two of these six are full-time GI Bill Certifying Officials that are also trained to work with military education portals as required by the military.
  • One full-time Disability Specialist specific for military students who is also a GI Bill Certifying Official.

Penn State World Campus–Scholarships Dedicated to Military Students

  • Seven scholarships specific for military Penn State World Campus students with the potential for an additional four to be activated in the next year.
  • Penn State World Campus Military Grant-in-Aid for undergraduates serving on active duty or guard/reserve and military spouses which reduces Penn State World Campus tuition closer to the Tuition Assistance cap of $250/credit hour. As of Fall 2016, this reduces Penn State World Campus cost-per-credit hour tuition from $582/credit hour (upper division courses) or $542/credit hour (lower division courses) to $328/credit hour.

Penn State World Campus–Other Initiatives

There is a partnership between the United States Sergeant Major Academy and the Master of Adult Education degree program offered online through Penn State World Campus. The first cohort graduated August 2016. Second cohort currently enrolled, third cohort preparing to apply.

Commonwealth Campuses

Who is assisting veterans at the campuses?

Each campus has at least one VA School Certifying Official who certifies the VA educational benefits of veterans/military/dependents. Most certifying officials at the commonwealth campuses fulfill multiple roles (e.g., financial aid, registration, etc.).

In 2015, the Military and Veterans Support Services Subcommittee of the Commission for Adult Learners surveyed the VA School Certifying Officials throughout the Penn State system to determine the services offered by the various campuses to veteran/military/dependent students. Results are as follows:

Abington (105 students): Study lounge, workshops with County Veterans Services Officer

Altoona (143 students): Referrals for health care, financial assistance, social interaction through ODS fraternity and off-campus organizations

Behrend/Erie (154 students): Social media/military specific website, and staff solely dedicated to veterans, and military specific programming/activities

Berks (137 students): Offer support with the transition from military to college, peer mentoring, a student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter, and veterans and dependents information workshops

DuBois (36 students): Offer a lounge, veterans club, workshops, and a Veterans’ Day program

Mont Alto (51 students): Offer a Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter, a new student veterans welcome, veteran peer mentors, a VA work-study program, on-campus student success support services, and veterans training as Lion Ambassadors

Fayette (31 students): Admissions counselor for adults/veterans, a VA work study positions, “Got Your 6” PSFE Community Group, a VA Center Counselor, a campus veteran mentor group

Harrisburg (286 students): Veterans’ club, a list-serv, and occasional veteran specific programming

Hazelton (27 students): Veterans’ Club

Lehigh Valley (41 students): Veterans Connect is offered during the first week of class, and they have a Veterans Fraternity

New Kensington (42 students): a Veterans’ Open House, a veterans’ club

Schyulkill (29 students): Offer a Veterans’ Lounge

Worthington-Scranton (33 students): Offer counseling services two days a week, informational sessions with VA staff, a veterans’ club, and a Veterans’ Day ceremony

Commonwealth Campuses with Certifying Official Services Only:

Beaver: (26 students)
Brandywine: (53 students)
Greater Allegheny: (16 students)
Great Valley: (31 students)
Shenango: (26 students)
Wilkes-Barre: (31 students)
York: (51 students)

SUMMARY

The veteran population at Penn State has more than doubled since 2008. The Office of Veterans Programs at University Park, and staff at other Penn State work to certify the VA educational benefits of veterans/military/dependents. There are a variety of programs available at the campuses for veterans and their families. A number of scholarships are available for this group of students.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID

  • Charles Abdalla
  • Steven Andelin
  • Martha Aynardi
  • Daniel Beaver
  • Clark Brigger
  • Wei-fan Chen
  • Maura Ellsworth
  • Galen Grimes
  • Anna Griswold
  • Michel Haigh, Chair
  • Harold Hayford, Vice Chair
  • Robert Kubat
  • Themis Matsoukas
  • George Samuel
  • Frederic Weber
  • Douglas Wolfe

SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATIONAL EQUITY AND CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT

  • Kimberly Blockett
  • Denise Bortree
  • Julia Bryan, Vice Chair
  • Dwight Davis
  • Erinn Finke
  • Timothy Lawlor
  • Robert Loeb, Chair
  • John Malchow
  • Adam Malek
  • Karyn McKinney
  • Dara Purvis
  • Eileen Trauth
  • Marcus Whitehurst

*Prepared with assistance from the Office of Veterans Programs with information from World Campus provided by Margaret Oakar, Associate Director of World Campus Admissions.