Thank you for Serving


Student Veterans of America Guide to College

There is a free Military to College Guide from Student Veterans of America (SVA).  A great resource to help veterans understand the complexities of going back to school.  SVA is rapidly expanding to campuses around the US to support veterans and help them succeed.

Here are some of the recommendations - and the guide also has a great checklist for getting ready for school. 
  • Start with a few courses to ease the transition
  • Reach out to other veterans on your campus to establish a network of people you can rely on, just as you would have in your military life
  • Get to know your new professors and ask them for help
  • When studying, take notes, take frequent breaks and find a study partner
  • Take advantage of your school’s academic, tutoring and counseling services
  • Recognize your own signs of physical and psychological stress and seek help if you are overwhelmed
  • Practice regular exercise and relaxation techniques to help reduce anxiety and improve concentration
  • Participate in student activities to break down barriers and become part of the campus community
  • Recognize that others may not agree with you or understand your military service. Agree to disagree and respectfully decline to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable
Great tips and certainly worth the read.  All military Veterans entering college should have a copy.


Math/Science and Military Students

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is working with President Obama, Mrs. Obama and the Department of Defense on a math and science outreach initiative for students in military families.  I got to spend some time over at NMSI to hear more about this great program to beef up math and science instruction and opportunities at schools near and on military bases.

For the White House this is a perfect next step to help with NMSI's Initiative for Military Families (IMF).    The focus is on improving math and science education to get more students into Advanced Placement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The DoD got involved due to the realization that they get a large number of recruits who are staying in the 'family business'.  Military families understand the military and are one of the best places for the next generation of recruits.  So it makes sense to invest in their education to ensure they have the technical abilities we need.

More to come on this but congrats to NMSI for taking care of our Military Families!!


Veterans in Higher Ed - a different view

Returning Veterans of American has an essay posted by Ryan Berg - a former infantry Marine who deployed twice to Iraq.  He takes exception to the positions that IAVA has taken on education.  IAVA has said that "If veterans are [attending] they're seeing good value, and to some extent the market is going to drive [veterans to these colleges].

This is the fundamental issue - for-profits have filled a void left by non-profit schools providing online education in the areas demanded by veteran students.  For-profits filled this space because there was a huge population to serve and the funding, provided by the government, to serve them.

There are issues and those need to be addressed.  But Mr. Berg seems to move like many and indict the entire industry.  There are many great schools meeting veteran's needs. 

How to fix this?
  1. Increased oversight by accrediting bodies
  2. Improved education on education benefits at discharge
  3. Improved resources for Veterans on how to make their education decision (not set up by a marketing company)
  4. How about Veteran reviews of schools on the VA site? That would be something
  5. Since most all of the schools use Veterans as recruiters - a code of conduct might help as well
I understand the frustration and we all have a responsibility for responsible leadership in working on Veteran Education.  Veteran's who are employed by these schools need to stand up for Veterans or leave! We owe it to properly serve all those who have served.


High school diploma for military home schoolers

Moving so many times disrupts education.  This is an incredible burden for military dependents.  Many end up homeschooling their children to ensure they get the education they need to succeed.  But they might also need a high school diploma to make the transition to higher education easier.  That is why VirtualEDU, powered by American High School started offering all 300 accredited online middle and high school courses for $49.95.  In the first 2 weeks of March they had over 150 new students enroll in their online courses from all over the world.

They can help you help your student achieve their education goals without killing your budget.  Whether you need one course or want to earn your high school diploma, VirtualEDU is there to help military families


GI Bill Tuition Caps

If you have not bee to the VA blog, you need to see it.  It is not just for the great posts on information that every student veteran needs, but also the discussions of other veterans on their issues.  It is just great information.

The post on Private School Tuition Caps is one such entry. Alex Horton cover the new GI Bill 2.0 cap moving to a maximum of $17,500.  The issue is that there are many students in the middle of their studies who will now have to shell out money to finish their education.  The Yellow Ribbon program will help - but not all.

A total different problem for our friends at New England College of Business - their programs, including their MBA are all regionally accredited and LESS than the $17,500 cap.  So they will not be listed as Yellow Ribbon school this year because they don't have to discount the program - it already will be fully paid for by the GI Bill


Vet Success Expands

The VA announced that it is expanding the VetSuccess program to more campuses (but still no online schools where the majority of veterans study - slight disconnect).

Under the program a full time Voc Rehab counselor and part time Vet Center Outreach coordinator  to provide VA benefits outreach, support, and assistance to ensure their health, educational, and benefit needs are met.

Arizona State University is one of the newest schools in the program and one of the schools that we work with on offering the education and nursing degrees. So congrats to ASU and thanks for making it a great place for Veterans.


20% Iraq / Afghanistan Veterans Unemployed

Come on America - WAKE UP!  You say you care about Veterans but you won't hire them? The Washington Post is reporting that our amazing Iraq and Afghanistan can't find employment and over 20% are unemployed. 

Empty slogans of 'support our troops' are ridiculous if we don't back it up with jobs.  Our troops are the best this country has to offer so why are they being passed over for jobs.

On this Friday - let's hire a Vet -it's not just the right thing to do for them, it's the right thing to do for your business.


Homeschool for Military Dependents

Great press release on a fantastic deal for military homeschool students who want online courses - VirtualEDU is offering all 200 middle and high school courses for a subscription rate of just $49.95 per month.  This is a pretty incredible deal for any home school family or just students that need credit recovery or summer school that their schools can't provide. 

Please take a look - VirtualEDU offers fully accredited courses.  Also, if you want to start your own Virtual private school, they offer turnkey virtual school programs. 

Over 30% of homeschooled students in this country are military - it is great to see a program like this that can provide even more resources to their hard working parents for a reasonable rate. 

Military Spouse Celebrates MyCAA

Military spouse Tracie Jefferson is one of the many who are earning their degree through the MyCAA program.  MyCAA is the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts designed to provide better career opportunities for military spouses.  It was severely cut back in October of 2010 but it still remains a great way for spouses to earn their associates degree.

Tracie is using her benefits in a special program from New England College of Business and Finance that reduces the cost by over $12,000!!

Please read more about this amazing program and this amazing military spouse


Yellow Ribbon Program!

American College of Education and New England College of Business just received our notification to renew our Yellow Ribbon participation with the GI Bill.  We are always excited to do this to make sure that our Veterans can earn their degree with zero out pocket costs for tuition. 

What will be more interesting come August is the cap moving to $17,500 per year for Veterans and how that might shrink the list of schools participating.  Know that ACE and NECB will still be there and working hard for our military members.

From the VA Site:
Benefits of the Yellow Ribbon Program

•Currently the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees.
•Effective August 1, 2011 the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay all pay:
◦all public school in-state tuition and fees or
◦up to $17,500 annually for a private school.

Your tuition and fees may exceed these amounts if you are attending a private school or are attending a public school as a nonresident student.

Institutions of Higher Learning (Degree Granting Institutions) may elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.

Institutions that voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with VA choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. VA will match that amount and issue payment directly to the institution.


Only veterans entitled to the maximum benefit rate (based on service requirements) or their designated transferees may receive this funding. Active duty servicemembers and their spouses are not eligible for this program (child transferees of active duty servicemembers may be eligible if the servicemember is qualified at the 100% rate).

Therefore, you may be eligible if:

•You served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months;
•You were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001;
•You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran’s service under the eligibility criteria listed above.


Start a Military Virtual High School

For those in the military that home school, or are a true education pioneer looking to help military families, there is a company that offers turnkey virtual schools.  Depending on the potential size of the school, they will not charge an up-front fee and can have the school open in a matter of weeks.

Virtual schools for the military makes sense - military students can study from anywhere in the world and VirtualEDU offers the lowest possible cost (students can sign up now for $49.95).

I know there are some military spouses out there who are ready to start their military virtual school - let me know and I will help you get started!  With over 700,000 military students homeschooled, this is a group that could use your help.


Testimony Lines up against For Profits

The March 1, 2011 Congressional Hearings on military tuition assistance were pretty predictable.  Click on the link and you can find the testimony.

Service members demand online programs because they are the only ones that fit with their ridiculous schedules.  So these schools are here to stay.  The solution is pretty simple and you don't need DoD to do anything and we don't need more regulations:
  1. Tighten up Regional Accreditation and put some teeth into it so that it means something
  2. Only pay for regionally accredited programs

From Harkin:
"In December, I released a report into these two programs and found that revenue from DoD educational programs at 18 for profit education companies increased from $40 million in 2006 to an unexpected $175.1 million in 2010, a 337 percent increase. Revenue from VA educational programs for the same 18 for-profit education companies increased from $26.3 million in 2006 to an unexpected $285.8 million for 2010, including a fivefold increase between 2009 and 2010.

Revenues from military education benefits at 20 for-profit education companies increased more rapidly than overall revenues in every year between 2006 and 2010. Finally, in the first year of Post-9/11 GI Bill implementation, the VA spent comparable amounts on tuition for students attending public schools and students attending for profit schools, but the VA funded 200,000 students at public schools compared to just 75,000 at for-profits."

Please - don't over-regulate - make the current regs work.


GAO report DOD Education Benefits

Just in time for the hearing, there is a GAO investigation of the $517 million the DoD spends on education benefits through the tuition assistance programs in each branch of the service. 

Unlike past GAO investigations, this one didn't name names as far as schools being too aggressive or having problems serving the military.  But here are the facts:
  1. 71% of tuition assistance courses taken were through distance learning
  2. 377,000 service members used $517 million in tuition assistance
  3. DoD lacks systems to track complaints about schools - so most of the research was hearing from ESO's
  4. There are problems with payments and aggressive marketing by for-profit schools
Recommendations for DoD from GAO:
  1. Improve accountability for recommendations made  by third-party quality reviews
  2. Develop centralized tracking for complaints against schools
  3. Conduct systemic review of oversight process
  4. Take action to ensure TA funds are used for accreditor-approved courses and programs
  5. Require and verify state authorization for all schools
Will see what happens when we get a summary of the Congressional hearing today.


Congress Hears Tuition Assistance Issues

HEARING: Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program 
WASHINGTON  Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, will hold a hearing titled "Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program" on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at 2:30 p.m. in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hearing will examine the state of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Tuition Assistance Program, which provides tuition assistance benefits to active duty military personnel who wish to take classes while concurrently fulfilling their active duty service requirement. In Fiscal Year 2009, 376,759 service members participated in the program and DOD spent over $517 million on the benefit. Allegations of several schools' abuse of the program  especially concerning recruitment practices  have recently been made public in the media. Consequently, the hearing will assess whether DOD has the proper structure in place to prevent against fraud and abuse of the Tuition Assistance Program by schools.
The hearing will include testimony from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on its assessment of DOD's oversight of the Tuition Assistance Program, including its ability to track complaints about schools and its level of interaction with the Department of Education.

"We want to ensure that our service members are receiving a quality education, and that the taxpayer dollars used to pay for these benefits are not being wasted," said Sen. Carper. "Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that some bad actors have taken advantage of our military personnel and have failed to deliver the quality of education they promise to our men and women in uniform. This is troubling news, and it raises some serious questions about the Department of Defense's ability to prevent against schools' abuse of the Tuition Assistance Program. Through this hearing, I intend to take a closer look at this situation and identify steps to prevent future abuse."

U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee Hearing "Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program"
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 
2:30 p.m. 
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building 
Panel I: 
The Honorable Tom Harkin 
U.S. Senator 
State of Iowa