The Texas A&M University System has pledged to make all nine of its schools “military friendly” by April, before the benefits of the Post-9-11 G.I. bill take effect in August. The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges
Consortium designates a college “military friendly” if the institution has programs which make it easier for those in the military to take courses.
Approximately 1800 colleges and universities nationwide have been designated “military-friendly,” including five schools in the A&M system. The system’s flagship institution, Texas A&M University-College Station, has not currently achieved “military friendly” recognition.
“It’s an important recognition of our responsibilities,” A&M System Chancellor Michael McKinney said to the Killeen Daily Herald.
The A&M system has formed the Mission Military Friendly Taskforce, a committee of military and civilian leaders, to advise the school system on how to improve its services toward students in the military.
Initiatives include more distance learning and online courses, especially in fields veterans have shown preference for such as business, education and political science. Expanded counseling services are also planned.
“A lot of them are coming [back] with physical and mental problems, and we need to be ready,” retired marine Lt. Gen. Joe Weber, vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M University-College Station, said to the San Antonio Express-News.
The process for military personnel to re-register may also be revised. Veterans currently have to consult the admissions office, registrar’s office, veteran’s affairs office and financial aid office.
“It would be easier if everything could be taken care of in one fell swoop,” Charles Wilcox, president of the
Texas A&M Veterans Association, said to The Bryan-College Station Eagle.
According to the Post-9-11 G.I. bill, a portion of tuition, a monthly allowance and a stipend for textbooks will be provided to veterans. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has also called for legislation to provide in-state tuition any veterans.
“These individuals are putting their lives on the line for our country,” Frank Ashley, vice-chancellor for academic affairs at Texas A&M-College Station said to The Bryan-College Station Eagle. “And if they want to pursue higher education, we need to provide them all the opportunities they need.”