UC launches website for student-veteran services

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The University of California announced Thursday that it has launched a new website that streamlines information on student-veteran services, which the university has expanded over the past 10 years.

The website advertises the university’s veteran benefits, including priority registration for classes, academic advising, and housing and financial services. The site also provides contact information for campus coordinators and links to the 10 campuses’ veteran services websites.

“We want student veterans to know that a UC education is attainable and affordable,” said UC spokesperson Shelly Meron in an email. “The website will help them access the available resources and get the most out of their … financial aid.”

The university created the website after recommendations from the systemwide student-veteran advisory council, according to a press release. The council meets several times a year and consists of professionals and students from each campus with knowledge of student-veteran affairs, according to director of re-entry student and veterans services Ron Williams.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended, student-veteran communities — and consequently the services they receive — have expanded at the UC campuses, Williams said. According to the press release, student-veterans’ numbers have more than doubled since 2008 to 1,750 undergraduate and 450 graduate student-veterans or students on active duty.

Recent state programs and federal funding have also attempted to encourage veterans to attend college. A California initiative in 2006 called Troops to College aimed to make the state’s public higher education institutions more “military-friendly” by increasing enrollment guidance and access to information on veteran benefits, according to the state labor and workforce development agency’s website. The program included the California State University, California Community Colleges and the University of California.

Later, the 2009 implementation of the post-9/11 GI bill largely contributed to student-veterans’ increased populations at the University of California, according to Williams. The bill is a federal educational program that largely covers the cost of higher education for veterans.

This expansion has sparked competition among UC campuses in their veteran services offerings, which ultimately benefits the students, Williams said.

But Williams also noted continuing problems in disseminating information to student-veterans because of a “false positive” of never hearing from students who do not have access to information. He also said that for-profit institutions, whose degrees often hold little or no weight — especially when applying for master’s programs — often target veterans.

“Getting accurate, reliable, meaningful information to (student-veterans) — particularly about California public education, where the value is phenomenal — is the goal,” Williams said.

UC Berkeley student-veteran Jennifer Eddy said the information was more “scattered” when she applied to the university. Though she believed universitywide requirements should be further consolidated, she thought the website was a good “one-stop shop.”

“I think it’s really good that there’s this website so they can overcome some of the bureaucracy of going through higher learning as a veteran,” Eddy said. “There are a lot of benefits that are accessible, but the process of obtaining them can be daunting.”

 

Frances Fitzgerald is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @f_fitzgerald325.