The University of Tulsa was recently recognized, though not for the first time, as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media. For over a decade Victory Media, a Veteran-owned organization, has been offering institutions an opportunity to distinguish themselves in this manner. Furthermore, the University of Tulsa was designated a Top Twenty Five Military Grad Program.
Victory Media determines these achievements through proprietary data gathered from free online surveys and an assortment of public and government sources which they evaluate to ensure consistency and legitimacy.
For schools in particular, they access federal databases regarding student’s graduation rates, placement rates and loan default rates.
Helping clarify how our school had distinguished itself in terms of veterans’ benefits are Cindy Watts, TU associate registrar, Derrick Weddle, who assists her in the certifying process, and Matt Luetjen, the current President of TU’s Student Veterans’ Association and a Graduate Student in the I/O Psychology program.
While all three voiced minor ways in which the university could improve its treatment of veterans, they claimed the awarded merits to be well deserved.
They went on to say that the administration provides them ample means to help military students make maximum use of their benefits.
Watts explained the five types of federal aid programs through which military veterans can attend TU. Chapter 33, which supports the vast majority of military students on campus, provides financial aid to students annually, with a maximum of $21,000 offered per individual.
Chapter 30 provides educational benefits to students who have served for at least two years, while Chapter 1606 offers educational and training benefits to active duty members in a monthly stipend lasting up to three years.
Chapter 35 offers monthly stipends to dependents and survivors of servicemembers, and Chapter 31, finally, covers the educational costs of rehabilitative/disabled veterans “down to the pencil.”
There are over one hundred students on campus eligible for and using these programs.
One big way the University of Tulsa has distinguished itself in terms of military accommodation is through its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
The program itself is voluntary for private institutions.
Typically, under the aforementioned Post-9/11 GI Bill alone, tuition to attend public schools would be funded in totality by the federal government, while private school tuition aid was capped off at approximately $21,000 per year.
Yellow Ribbon, if the program is adopted by an institution, allows the administration to provide further financial aid to its military students, which is in turn matched by federal funds.
TU makes full use of this program, in many cases fully funding a student-veteran’s tuition.
Watts and Weddle are re-educated three times a year (though they hope to lower that to two) on the strict federal guidelines and rapidly-changing laws regarding veteran aid.
Many of the school’s accommodations for veterans are governed by the Veterans’ Administration and ultimately Congress above them, which is why TU’s willingness to go beyond its obligational responsibilities is so unique.
Luetjen expressed his thanks for the plentiful support from administration and the business office, namely Geoffrey Allen, a veteran himself who does the university’s sponsored billing (such as to the VA).
None of this means that there isn’t room for improvement, according to Watts.
Perhaps the chief complaint was how militarily disabled students find it especially frustrating to have to prove their disability to CSAS, which is often backlogged with other matters, after already jumping through hoops with the Veterans’ Association.
Luetjen, who headed up the Student Veterans’ Association after active membership dropped from thirty to ten students (it has since returned to 30) pointed out that getting student veterans to participate in the organization was difficult, since he was provided with a ‘blind email’ and not a list of students to contact.
Finally, there were a few gripes with the on-campus Veteran’s Lounge, as its location on the second floor of a building without wheelchair access makes it inaccessible to disabled servicemembers. There was also some talk about the rooms being too small.
When viewing Victory Media’s list of its certified Military Friendly schools, TU is one of four universities in the state of Oklahoma to entirely fulfill the criteria listed under Support. Within this category are “No Penalty for Deployed MIlitary Students,” “Full-time VA Counselor on Staff,” “Veteran Clubs/Groups,” and “SVA Chapter on Campus.”
This extensive, personalized support offered to servicemen is no doubt prevalent among the reasons why service members may be attracted to the University of Tulsa.