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Local colleges ‘military friendly’


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Chris Thompson said IUPUC didn’t have much going for it in terms of programs for military veterans when he arrived there.

Now five years later, IUPUC, Harrison College and Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin are being listed among the country’s “Military Friendly Schools” as recognized in G.I. Jobs magazine.

The annual list honors the top 15 percent of U.S. colleges, universities and trade schools that have embraced America’s service members and veterans as students, according to Victoria Media, which publishes the magazine. The 2013 list was generated through research and a data-driven survey of more than 12,000 schools.

IUPUC and local Harrison and Ivy Tech locations offer resources to help veterans and their families gain admission and apply for benefits that pay for a portion or all of their post-secondary education. All three have at least part-time military aides on their campuses to talk to students.

“The services these institutions are offering are phenomenal,” said Alison Franklin, educational director and coordinator for Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.

Thompson, an Air Force veteran who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in

mechanical engineering technologies, decided to attend IUPUC because it was close to home and allowed him to take classes around his work schedule as a test engineer at Cummins Inc.

He said he was on his own while he figured out how to fill out military paperwork and utilize benefits available to veterans.

During his first year at school, he became a founding member of the Student Veterans Military Association. The new group established a web of military services that not only helps veterans and current service members with paperwork but also helps them meet one another.

He said the entire group gets together about three times a year to share was stories and voice concerns about college life.

Brandy Kammel, a sergeant in the Army Reserve and a former president of the Student Veterans Military Association for IUPUC, Ivy Tech and Purdue School of Technology, said introducing one military veteran to another is a powerful tool that actually helps the college meet students’ needs.

“A veteran might have been through a process and know what advice to give if another one is facing the same thing,” Kammel said. “The individual might know even if the school doesn’t.”

Nina Loesch, assistant director of financial aid at Ivy Tech, said her school reaches out to veterans and gives their needs the highest priority. She said one of the perks Ivy Tech offers is a tuition freeze, which saves them 10 to 15 percent per credit hour instead of paying full price.

Like IUPUC, Ivy Tech and Harrison College have on-site professionals who save veterans and their families from spending time on the phone trying to sort out complex financial aid issues.

Mark Apple, director of public relations for Harrison College, said the college takes pride in its services, which include a flexible withdrawal policy for service members who get deployed and a military task force at each campus.

It also has a Military Advisory Board, which Franklin said strives to improve its services to its military population.

“Military service members, as well as their spouses and dependents, make tremendous sacrifices for our country,” said Jason Konesco, president of Harrison College. “As an institution of higher learning, we’re grateful for their service and, in turn, want to provide them with the unparalleled level of service that they deserve.”

Find your fit

Interactive tools to help veterans, their families and current military servicemen find which military friendly schools best suit their needs are available at militaryfriendlyschools.com.

The full list of “Military Friendly Schools” for 2013 also is available.Find your fit

Interactive tools to help veterans, their families and current military servicemen find which military friendly schools best suit their needs are available at militaryfriendlyschools.com.

The full list of “Military Friendly Schools” for 2013 also is available.

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