Emanuel, Chicago-Area Universities Unveil First-In-the-Nation Plan to Utilize New GI Bill, Send Veterans to College

Rahm Emanuel

“The first GI bill launched our country as a 20th century power, and the new GI bill will do even more for our country in the 21st century,” said Emanuel.  “The veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now have the most generous education benefits in 60 years and in Chicago we are doing all we can to ensure bureaucratic hurdles don’t prevent them from attending college. Together, we’re making Illinois the leader in providing education benefits to our veterans.”

“When my fellow Guardsmen and I joined up for the chance to serve our country and communities in exchange for education benefits, we never thought we’d face down snipers and IEDs in Iraq,” said Walsh, a veteran of the Iraq War who served tours with the 933rd Military Police Division. “You helped us get the equipment we needed then, and you’re helping us get the education we need now.  Thanks to the new GI Bill, I plan on applying to DePaul to fulfill my dream of becoming an engineer.”

Under the new GI Bill, servicemembers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, who have served 3 years on active duty, receive benefits to cover the costs of a four-year education up to the level of the most expensive in-state public school, along with a stipend for housing, books and other expenses.  Education benefits are available to troops who have served at least 3 months of active duty service since September 11, 2001, including members of the National Guard and Reserve. Under the old GI bill, veterans’ education benefits covered only about 60 percent of the cost of a public-school education.

Even with these benefits, veterans face unique circumstances that can make applying to or attending college difficult or impossible. City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Loyola University and DePaul University announced today that they will take additional steps to make it easier for veterans to attend and succeed in college. These policies include expedited review of veterans’ applications and improved services for veterans on campus. Detailed information regarding these policies is attached below.

“The University of Chicago is proud to join Congressman Rahm Emanuel and the entire Illinois delegation in supporting the educational goals of veterans and we will warmly welcome applicants to our campus,” commented Michael Behnke, Vice President and Dean of College Enrollment at the University.  “The benefits of the Post 9/11 G.I. bill are many and we will work with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and individual applicants to maximize outreach and recruitment, provide educational support, and maximize tuition assistance benefits, including applicable participation in the proposed matching Yellow Ribbon Program.”

“Our University is proud to work with these returning veterans, and we are doing what we can to make the application and admissions process as streamlined and supportive as possible,” said Philip Hale, Loyola University Vice President of Public Affairs. “We also would like to thank Congressman Rahm Emanuel for facilitating this important initiative, and for all of the support and leadership that he continues to provide, both for higher education and for America’s veterans.”

“In recognition of their sacrifice and service to our country, DePaul University is proud to offer an accelerated admissions program to streamline the process for our returning service men and women,” said  Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider, President of DePaul University. “In many cases, the University will be able to offer an instant admissions decision to these applicants.”

Michael E. Mills, Northwestern University Associate Provost for University Enrollment added, “The Northwestern University community is deeply grateful for the sacrifices made by America’s military, and we look forward to welcoming these heroes to our campus and thank Congressman Emanuel for his leadership on this issue.”

“It’s our goal that all UIC students who are either withdrawing for military service, or re-enrolling after their deployments, can do so quickly and easily,” said University of Illinois-Chicago Interim Chancellor Eric A. Gislason. “Under one roof at our Student Services Building, students can coordinate formal withdrawal to enter the military; re-enroll; and get information and assistance from the Veterans Affairs Office with financial matters, including applying for VA benefits, Illinois veterans’ grants, and the G.I. Bill.” 

“Harry S. Truman’s National Commission on Higher Education strongly supported community colleges and envisioned educational services in a nurturing community environment for World War II veterans.  Today’s community college system is based on President Truman’s vision for such a need,” said City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Wayne D. Watson.  “We remain committed to serving veterans, whether they are completing post-secondary degrees or refreshing their skills to re-enter the civilian workforce.  The City Colleges of Chicago applauds America’s armed forces and welcomes returning veterans to our seven colleges.”

Policies to Help Veterans Attend and Succeed in College

On August 18, colleges and universities in the Chicago area announced policies that will make it easier for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to attend and succeed in college. Summaries of some of these policies are included below.

University of Chicago

·         The undergraduate College of the University of Chicago will waive the application fee for all applicants, provide individual counseling throughout the application process, and give veterans the option to apply as a full-time transfer degree candidate, or to take up to six classes suitable for transfer to another institution under Chicago’s Student-at-Large program. 

·         The University of Chicago also plans to participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover unmet expenses as soon as that program is designed.

·         Once a veteran receives his or her offer of admission an academic advisory appointment will be scheduled to review the transfer of prior college work as well as a preliminary discussion for course selection in the next term of study, and other enrollment matters.  Full-time transfer applicants must submit the Common application and supplement by March 1, and Student-at Large applicants must apply six weeks prior to the Quarter they wish to take classes.

 Loyola University

·         Typically, the admissions review process cannot begin until an applicant’s “package” is complete with official transcripts, test scores, references, and other information. In order to assist individuals who have served the United States in the military and who qualify for benefits under the 2008 G.I. Bill, Loyola will initiate an admissions review process for fall 2009 that uses unofficial documents to accelerate enrollment decisions.

·         Loyola will modify its undergraduate admissions form to allow qualifying veterans to self-identify themselves, flagging their application for expedited review.

·         Loyola will also develop a special Web page dedicated to these returning veterans, which will provide them with admissions information relevant to their situation.

 University of Illinois-Chicago

·         UIC will have a “one-stop” for veterans’ support.  Under one roof at UIC’s Student Services Building, students can coordinate formal withdrawal to enter the military; re-enroll; and get information and assistance from the Veterans Affairs Office with financial matters, including applying for VA benefits, Illinois veterans’ grants, and the G.I. Bill.

·         UIC also has a Veterans Student Association, an organization for veterans and ROTC cadets. The Association offers opportunities for professional development, scholastic support, and social networking. The UIC College of Engineering also has a Veterans in Engineering group to provide tutoring, advising and other support to veteran students.

·         Like all UIC students, veterans have access to the UIC Counseling Center, which offers expert counseling to any veterans coping with traumatic events or experiencing problems re-adjusting to civilian life. UIC also maintains a decades-long relationship with the West Side VA. In partnership with the UIC College of Medicine, West Side VA offers primary and tertiary care; specialties such as cardiology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, infectious diseases, oncology, and women’s health; a state-of-the-art emergency room; and a full complement of intensive care.

 Northwestern University

·         Northwestern University will waive the application fee for any veteran who applies to our School of Continuing Studies (SCS). 

·         Northwestern will further assist returning veterans as students by assigning each student an enrollment advisor to ensure that he or she understands and accesses all available services.  This advisor will identify academic, administrative, and support services needed to enrich the college experience for returning veterans.

·         Northwestern University will expedite the review process for admission and transfer of credit for those veterans, enrolled in SCS, who wish to transfer to Northwestern’s traditional daytime undergraduate program. 

 DePaul University

·         Returning veterans can enroll at DePaul University instantly through DePaul’s Accelerated Admission process.

·         In recognition of the sacrifice and service our returning GI’s, DePaul University has designed an Accelerated Admission process to reduce the time necessary.  In most cases, the University will be able to offer an instant admissions decision to applicants.

·         Admitted students will have the opportunity to meet with an admission counselor to get a preliminary review of how prior post-secondary credits will transfer and also will have an opportunity to ask questions about financial aid, orientation and any other issues they need to tackle in order to make their enrollment decision.

·         DePaul will waive the $40 application fee for returning GI’s.

 City Colleges

·         The College Credit for Military Training program allows veterans and servicemembers to count their military coursework and experience toward a degree.  Experience and coursework that may be evaluated for credit includes: MOS’s NER’s and military courses, the DSST (DANTES) test, specified CLEP test, and basic military training.

·         Academic Advising programs at City Colleges guarantee quality advisement to move students toward achieving their educational goals. College Advisors assist students with program planning, course selection, career exploration, college selection, and job placement.

·         Student Success Centers at City Colleges offers student services including Assessment, Career and Job Placement, Financial Aid, Learning Resource, and other support for success on campus and beyond.