After Serving Our Country, What’s Next?

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SRC_veteransThough it may be difficult to distinguish them from others on campus without their uniforms, more and more students taking classes at Spoon River College these days have served in the armed forces. Many factors can be attributed to the increased veteran enrollment, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is certainly one of them. The federal legislation gives soldiers and veterans more flexibility in choosing an educational benefit that best meets their needs.

One of the most common problems for veterans is an inability to pay tuition and fees out-of-pocket to start classes. The Post-9/11 helps cover the cost of tuition, fees, and books. It even provides a housing allowance for most students, depending on number of credit hours and whether the student is taking classes online or face-to-face.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mobile Vet Center (MVC) visited the Canton Campus in September 2015. The mobile centers were established as a way to reach the underserved populations in rural areas, and this marked the third time the MVC has visited Spoon River College.

Currently, 45 students and dependents are using veterans educational benefits. As more soldiers return from Afghanistan and Iraq, SRC expects to see even greater utilization of this Veterans Affairs (VA) benefit. Transitioning from the military to college can be an overwhelming process for returning soldiers. In response, institutions of higher learning, like SRC, are offering specialized services that help veterans find the road to academic success.

Some common barriers veterans face when moving into higher learning include feeling unwelcome, finding time for studying, coordinating personal and class schedules, lack of personal support, and slowly arriving educational benefits. SRC’s Academic Success Center can help with many of these challenges, offering tutoring and solutions for success or referrals to outside sources if necessary.

SRC’s VA office is located in Student Services, where veterans have access to registration and financial aid and advising services—all in one building.

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