- Online Articles That May Be of Interest to WIAReport Readers : Women In Academia Report on The Fall and Rise of Trinity Washington University
- Vox Populi » Prefrosh Preview: Weed, molly, coke—pick your favorite on Artificial attention: The consequences of study drugs
- Vox Populi » Prefrosh Preview: Alcohol, house parties, and you on Saxa Politica: Kegging it back to campus
- Vox Populi » Coming to a TV near you: Condom ads as ritzy as Ciroc commercials on Hilltop or bottom? The Voice‘s 2012 sex survey
- Interesting Reads: Georgetown, Bowdoin, Swarthmore, Iowa, State of Illinois, Kentucky | Fraternal Squib on Georgetown Fraternities: This is no Animal House
Photos from Flickr
Veterans benefits increased, GU vets not satisfied
Although Georgetown announced this week that it would increase the aid it gives to undergraduate veterans fivefold, veterans’ advocates on campus say the new aid package is still not effective in controlling the cost of a Georgetown education.
In comparison to the $1,000 undergraduates received from Georgetown through the Yellow Ribbon program in the 2009-10 school year, eligible veterans will receive $5,000 from the University in the coming year. For every $5,000 the University gives its students in benefits, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a matching grant of $5,000, as is required under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.
The Yellow Ribbon Program does not necessarily guarantee that undergraduate veterans will receive $10,000 in addition to their need-based financial aid packages , though. Georgetown’s different schools offer financial aid packages based on need, and the money that veterans receive from the Yellow Ribbon program is often subtracted from these other financial aid packages.
Barbara Mujica, a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese department and faculty advisor for the Georgetown University Students Veterans Association, was not pleased with the changes, writing in an e-mail that this kind of Yellow Ribbon rate is “considered an insult by many veterans.”
Veterans also receive different amounts of financial benefits from the respective schools within the University. While undergraduates receive $5,000 from the University, students enrolled in the graduate sector of the School of Continuing studies receive $10,140 in benefits. Veterans who are graduate students will not see any increase in their benefits.
“This was handled poorly because [the conditions for the financial aid package] were not explained prior to the students receiving the money,” Erick Brine, a graduate student and the President of GUSVA, said. “There is no net benefit for them.”
Brine also pointed out that there is also a large discrepancy between the aid that Georgetown University gives to its veterans and the benefits that other peer universities offer.
The $9,376 total compensation offered to Georgetown undergraduate veterans in 2009 is significantly lower than the $77,309 offered by Dartmouth College, for example, or the $65,208 offered by Columbia University, according to the U.S. News and World Report.
Peter Nesbitt (SFS ‘11) wrote in an e-mail that the problem lies in a provision in the Post-9/11 GI bill that says that veterans must receive at least 100 percent of the tuition of the most expensive in-state public university. In D.C., the most expensive and only public school, the University of the District of Columbia, costs only $7,376 a year.
However, it hasn’t prevented American University or George Washington University from providing enough monetary benefits to cover veterans’ full tuitions, Nesbitt said.
“[American and GWU] demonstrate their commitment to veterans despite a law that puts their universities in poor positions,” Nesbitt wrote. “Georgetown has decided to pass the effects of the poorly written law onto veteran students.”
The absence of a central veterans’ office in the University can make the bureaucracy of the VA all the more difficult for student veterans to handle. Brine said some students are fined when there are miscommunications between the University and the VA regarding tuition payments. For students who have to pay the extra tuition fees, this can be painful.
Students are currently meeting with administrators to establish a veterans’ office, which Brine hopes will be operational sometime next year.
“The problem is there are places where there is support in the university, but the university has not informed the student veterans very well on [where these resources are],” Brine said. “It is not very helpful when you do not know who to contact. It’s not a contentious relationship, but there is still a long way to go.”
In the meantime, student veterans’ advocates are trying to get the University to create an official record of all of the veterans on campus, which would enable the University to inform veterans of scholarships that specifically pertain to them and help veterans to establish an alumni network program. “Everyone has been extremely supportive of veterans at Georgetown and there has not been anyone here that has not provided the level of access and support that we wanted,” Brine said. “But it is a long process.”