MSU to participate in Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans’ benefit

The College of Human Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Eli Broad College of Business will participate in a federal program to give veterans financial aid beginning this fall.

In Michigan, 35 colleges and universities are participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program with the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed in Congress last year.

Through the program, more financial aid would be available for qualified veterans, covering tuition, fees, books, supplies and housing.

The coverage schools will provide per student per year above the base rate covered by the VA is $15,378.75 from the College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine and $14,465.25 from the College of Veterinary Medicine, according to the VA GI bill Web site. Coverage from the College of Business was not available and officials from the college did not return phone calls made by The State News.

In the past, veteran students were given a monthly stipend, making this chapter of the bill more desirable for some students, Scott Owczarek, an associate registrar said.
The Yellow Ribbon Program aims to help student-veterans who might be interested in pricier schools, which charge tuition rates higher than the base rate covered by the VA in the GI bill.

Michigan’s tuition maximum amount covered by the VA is $990 per credit hour and anything more than this amount might now be covered by the Yellow Ribbon Program.

“Any program over the $990 per credit hour, the university could go into an agreement with the VA that says we will cover a percentage over the $990 per credit hour and the VA … would match that up to 50 percent,” Owczarek said.

A “matching” program, the Yellow Ribbon Program, as part of the larger bill package, would be very comprehensive, he said.

“This is the most comprehensive benefit package for veterans since the original Montgomery bill, put in place after World War II,” Owczarek said.

Students see the importance of the bill and the impact it has on veterans who might need financial assistance.

“Maybe they always wanted to go to college, but they couldn’t afford it after high school,” Cadet Ryan Thompson of the MSU Army ROTC said. “With the GI bill, their dream of getting an education can finally come true.”

This also will help out-of-state veterans who might want to attend more expensive medical programs, said Jim Lloyd, associate dean for budget, planning and institutional research at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Because medical school tuition is higher than the standard that the GI bill pays,” he said. “We have agreed that we will find the funds to pay the difference.”

Funding will come from the individual colleges participating, not the state, said Val Meyers, MSU associate director of financial aid.

“Here at MSU, (for) those particular programs, the matching funds are coming out of the colleges,” she said.

Encouraging veterans to come to MSU and explore new options for paying tuition is important, said Maj. Ravi Wagh, assistant professor of military science at the MSU Army ROTC.

“You can see why it’s such a good deal,” he said. “A lot of the kids can come now and basically have their whole college covered from start to finish.”

In the state there are 9,500 national guardsmen and women who might be interested in going to school, Wagh said.

If qualified, veterans now can apply and change their benefits to fit with the new program, Owcarek said.

“We’re just thankful to have (the veterans) here and for what they have done for us,” Lloyd said.

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