Lipscomb University has faith in the future of veterans. Veterans have the unique opportunity to attend Lipscomb University at zero cost to the student through the Yellow Ribbon Program, a benefit under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill earned by qualified veterans through their distinguished service to our nation.
Chad Staggs, director of the Lipscomb University Veterans Services Office, outlined what zero cost truly means.
“What makes Lipscomb University’s participation in this program unique from others is that the amount we have chosen to contribute is half of the remaining tuition. This means the VA will cover the other half, essentially splitting the remainder with the university. Lipscomb and the VA split the additional tuition fees not covered by the G.I. Bill allowing our veteran students to attend our private institution at no cost,” said Staggs.
The Yellow Ribbon Program covers the portion of tuition for public or private institutions of higher learning that exceeds the national maximum tuition coverage per academic year covered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Universities may participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program through an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) choosing the amount of additional tuition fees they will contribute to veteran students. The VA then matches the university contribution.
“A lot of schools will only provide this full tuition coverage for a limited number of students,” said Staggs. “At Lipscomb, we cover 100 percent of our veteran students which allows them to advance their education as they transition out of the military free of charge.”
Veteran students who qualify for the full Post 9/11-G.I. Bill benefits and choose to attend Lipscomb can count on this coverage for all undergraduate degree programs and all graduate programs except for the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. The School of Physician Assistant Studies is currently under review for participation in the program.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, Lipscomb University will cover any tuition fees exceeding the $22,805.34 cap set on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
The average tuition amount for an academic year at most private institutions runs a student $32,000.00. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill coverage leaves veteran students with $9,194.66 to cover on their own either out of pocket or via student loans and grants.
Veterans who attend Lipscomb University are completely alleviated of this debt. Lipscomb University honors veterans, their spouses and dependents, by covering half of this remaining tuition cost, with the VA matching the amount to cover the rest. Thus, veterans can attend Lipscomb University tuition-free.
Transitioning service members and veterans are taking advantage of this opportunity, with 200 currently enrolled at Lipscomb University. This notable population is not solely veterans, including spouses and dependents of veterans. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides veterans the opportunity to pass this service earned benefit to a spouse or dependents.
Out of the 200 Yellow Ribbon Program participants currently enrolled at Lipscomb University, 30 percent are spouses or dependents. This demographic has seen a significant increase in recent years, presenting new factors for the Veterans Services Office to consider in regard to the services and support it provides to veterans and their families.
“Dependents are closer to a traditional student to a large degree, but they have had completely different life experiences than their roommate or neighbors in the dorms” said Staggs.
“Maybe mom and dad were dual-military and gone for numerous years on rotating deployment schedules. Some have spent their entire upbringing in Europe or abroad because their parent(s) were assigned overseas. Compare this to their peers who have, perhaps, never left the greater Nashville area or maybe even the state. It’s hard to relate.”
“At the same time, our veteran students may not relate to the dependent students because they have an entirely different set of experiences and responsibilities to which they became accustomed in their service. Bringing these groups to support one another has been a challenge, but we’ve had great success through mission projects, counseling, mentoring and providing opportunities for them to network.”
The team at Lipscomb conducted a study and found the average age of veteran students is 34.5 years old and 74 percent are married with two or more children. While attending school, 68 percent work an additional 35 or more hours a week on top of their class schedule. Veteran students commute an average of 45 minutes one way each day to attend class, and 30 percent have seen combat. This makes the mission of the Veterans Services team and its support to this demographic so important.
“We are not interested in flashy enrollment numbers. We want to see a lot of veterans, their spouses or dependents choose to attend our university. But, at a lot of schools that is where it stops for this unique population,” said Staggs.
“The Lipscomb Veterans Services team takes a holistic approach - we want to see our veteran students graduate. We want to see them be successful in the workforce. We even keep in touch with our graduates. At Lipscomb, it’s about being a family.”
Staggs believes in this perhaps more than anyone, being available 24/7 to the veteran students, spouses and dependents on his personal cell. “I want them to be able to reach someone on our team at any time. You never know when someone may need help with a problem, to seek advice, or to talk through the specific challenges the military to civilian transition presents.”
Staggs and his team take it beyond the support to the veterans, and work with the Lipscomb faculty and staff to increase awareness of the unique aspects of this population. The support from Lipscomb includes a registrar’s office which assists veterans with ensuring they maximize their transfer credits from other institutions and their Joint Service Transcript.
Lipscomb University has been recognized nationally for getting it right. The Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 ranked the university number 12 for the amazing job it is doing for veterans. If you are a transitioning service member, and are unsure of your next step, visit Lipscomb Veterans Services online or give Staggs and his team a call at 615-966-5176.
“There is no greater decision than furthering one’s education,” said Staggs. ”In times of uncertainty like the military to civilian transition, the choice of education is always distinguished.”
Want to learn more about the benefits and support Lipscomb University provides veterans, spouses and dependents? Click here.