SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - As part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's commitment to serving military service members and veterans, the College recently signed a new Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense (DoD).
"Military students have devoted themselves to serving our country," said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. "We at Rowan-Cabarrus are equally committed to serving the military and their loved ones through providing a world-class education and very accessible information that will help them discern whether the College is the right place for them to pursue their educational goals."
The DoD MOU must be signed by all educational institutions that wish to participate in the military tuition assistance (TA) program. The overall goal of the MOU is to provide verifiable, quality, affordable academic and training programs to U.S. troops, thus ensuring the military continues to be the best educated fighting force in the world.
"This is important for the College because we have many students that receive tuition assistance through the military," said Spalding. Currently, there are nearly 300 student veterans receiving VA (Veterans Affairs) educational benefits at Rowan-Cabarrus.
The College has an existing agreement in place, but signing the MOU allows Rowan-Cabarrus to continue accepting military tuition assistance for students currently serving in the active or reserve component as an alternative to the G.I. Bill. The agreement is good for the next five years.
Upon signing the MOU, Rowan-Cabarrus agrees to provide information to military students about the financial cost so that they can make informed decisions on where to attend school. The College will continue to provide them with the total cost of their educational program including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and give them financial aid options prior to registration.
"We already provide this information, but are in the process of creating a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to make this even clearer," continued Spalding.
For instance, Rowan-Cabarrus is an affordable option with credits costing only $72 per credit hour – meaning that a semester's worth of tuition could cost around $1,000. Enrolling at Rowan-Cabarrus has never been easier; students may apply online at www.rccc.edu/apply2014.
The College also agrees to continue providing academic and student support services to service members and their families. In addition, the College agrees not to use unfair, deceptive or abusive recruiting practices.
Providing access to quality postsecondary education opportunities is a strategic investment by DoD that enhances the U.S. service member's ability to support mission accomplishment and successfully return to civilian life. A forward-leaning, lifelong learning environment is fundamental to the maintenance of a mentally powerful and adaptive leadership-ready force.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been a Service member Opportunity College (SOC) since the early 1990s. As a SOC member, the College provides transferable credit toward college courses as determined by the American Council on Education (ACE) transcript evaluation. The College has also formed a taskforce to make recommendations for additional transferable credit to be awarded based on the service member or veteran's Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and current program of study and recommendations for engaging veterans in successful completion of their educational goals at Rowan-Cabarrus.
"We are proud to welcome veterans to Rowan-Cabarrus and greatly appreciate their time in service to our nation," said Spalding. "Veterans have many choices during and after their military service, and we are pleased that some have chosen to make Rowan-Cabarrus a part of their life."
Rowan-Cabarrus has gone beyond the Voluntary Education Partnership because the agreement does not mandate providing additional programming for members of the military or veterans. The College has recently started two new programs on campus to improve the educational experience of current and former members of the military.
The process of transitioning from the military to civilian life can pose challenges for all veterans, especially for those who are new to navigating the college environment. Since the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, additional opportunities for veterans to earn a college degree have resulted in a dramatic influx of veterans on college campuses. Faculty, staff, and students need to be aware of the potential issues a student veteran might face on a college campus and know what resources are available for this population.
Green Zone Trainings will provide participants with the following:
· An understanding of the military experience and emotional cycle of deployment.
· An understanding of the potential issues facing student veterans as they transition from the military to college.
· An awareness of the resources available to student veterans on and off campus.
Green Zone Allies are not expected to be experts or mental health counselors. Green Zone Allies are a sympathetic ear and someone who can refer a student veteran to appropriate on-campus resources.
"While you serve our country with honor and courage, let Rowan-Cabarrus Community College help you accomplish your personal educational goals. Rowan-Cabarrus has helped military men, women and their dependents earn college degrees and certificates for decades. We have the people, the programs and the policies in place to serve your unique needs," said Carl M. Short, chair of the College's Board of Trustees.
The ultimate goal of the Green Zone training is to support student service members and veterans in their academic pursuits.
"Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is committed to bringing quality programs to all students in our service area," said Katie Herring, financial aid counselor who also works with the College's veteran population. "Veterans and military service members are a growing part of our student body as are their families and dependents. We are committed to serving the educational needs of veterans, active service members, families and dependents."
A special logo and seal has been developed by the College to denote those who have received this special Green Zone training and are prepared to help support military service members and veterans.
"We aspire to serve as an example for other educational institutions in this respect," continued Herring.
Additionally, the College started a new orientation program specifically for veterans. This two-credit, week long course takes place before the term begins and allows students to get a better sense of all services available to them. Academic and career advising, registration support and behind the scenes tours give veterans a foundation to get started their educational journey on the right foot.
The College aims to facilitate veteran success by providing support, resources and information to meet their unique needs as both a veteran and a student.
"Student veterans are mature and on a mission, but sometimes face different challenges than other students," said Natasha Lipscomb, director of student life and leadership at the College. "The College's goal is to help veterans transition from soldiers to scholars, navigate financial matters, deal with campus life and cope with the lack of structure in comparison with time in the military."
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's educational programs are approved by the North Carolina State Approving Agency for the enrollment of persons eligible for education assistance benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Those entitled to VA benefits are eligible veterans, participants in various versions of the Montgomery G.I. Bill contributory program, active duty military in voluntary education programs, drilling National Guard, drilling Reservists, and spouses and children of disabled or deceased veterans. The Office of Financial Aid provides information and assistance to students applying for VA education benefits.