Monday, May 11, 2009

Columbia Will Participate Broadly in Generous Tuition Aid Program for Returning Veterans

May 7, 2009 — Beginning this summer, all of Columbia University’s graduate and professional schools as well as its undergraduate School of General Studies will participate in a new federal initiative in which educational institutions provide eligible student-veterans with a tuition waiver or grant matched by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

The initiative, known as the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, will serve to make participating private institutions like Columbia more accessible to student-veterans and has the potential to be as significant and influential as the original GI Bill of 1944. These enhanced benefits were authorized under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

“Columbia’s participation demonstrates its long-standing appreciation of the military service activities of its students and alumni,” said Elizabeth Hicks, associate vice president of student and administrative services. “The experience and talent brought to campus by student-veterans vastly enhances academic discourse in our classrooms.”

More than 100 student-veterans currently study at Columbia. While the program’s administrative procedures will not be finalized for several more weeks, Columbia’s participating schools have submitted initial agreements to participate at varying levels. Specific information about participation levels, eligibility and admissions will be made available after June 15.

At Columbia’s School of General Studies, for example, when the Yellow Ribbon Program award is combined with benefits of the Post-9/11 Assistance Act, the entire cost of education for eligible enrolled students would be covered. The scope of benefits provided by the program makes a Columbia education accessible to eligible veterans regardless of socioeconomic status.

The School of General Studies was founded in 1947 in large part to meet the needs of thousands of military personnel returning from World War II. In recent decades, the school has evolved into a unique undergraduate option for a wide diversity of non-traditional and mid-career students seeking an Ivy League education.

“Schools across the university are expecting an increase in the number of student-veterans who will be utilizing the new benefits package,” said Laurie Schaffler, executive director of student financial services. “The extensive participation is due in large part to the energy generated by the existing student-veteran population.

“Many schools and departments are working diligently to compile the services and expertise necessary to receive the expected increase in veteran enrollment. Members of the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University student group have been instrumental in providing information to us so we can provide the best accommodations possible.”

About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations and community partnerships help define the university’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

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