After lobbying by student veterans, the University is “strongly considering” creating a position that would help veterans with the unique problems they face with admissions and financial aid, said Lester Monts, the University’s senior vice provost for academic affairs, in an interview yesterday.

That’s one of several changes being proposed by a group called the Student Veterans Association of the University of Michigan. The group, formed this year by LSA junior and six-year Air Force veteran Derek Blumke, has also asked the University to give college credit to veterans for military experience and offer all veterans in-state tuition.

Blumke said the hiring of a veterans coordinator would be a good first step to making the transition to the University easier for veterans.

“It is great that Dr. Monts and the University of Michigan are making progress to improve these programs,” he said. “It shows veterans outside the University and people in the military that the University of Michigan is a welcoming place for veterans.”

Monts said he is discussing several other programs for veterans, but he wouldn’t discuss any other plans being considered. He said he has discussed the matter with officials from the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, New Student Programs and Academic Multicultural Initiatives and plans to schedule a meeting so they can decide which policies to implement.

“We’re looking at several answers,” Monts said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Blumke said veterans need help from a dedicated official when filling out admissions forms and financial aid paperwork because the generally face many problems most other applicants don’t.

While many high school students have guidance counselors to help fill out applications or teachers who can write recommendations, most veterans don’t. The University’s demanding application can discourage students from applying if they don’t have extra help, Blumke said.

The difficult GI Bill application process is another area where a coordinator would help, he said.

“It’s not an easy process,” Blumke said. “Any extra little bit of help they can get makes their lives so much easier when they get here.”

Other schools, including the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State University, have veterans affairs offices to help students with applications and help them find services tailored to veterans.

Some colleges, like Wisconsin, offer veterans free tuition. Western Michigan offers veterans one free semester of tuition and in-state tuition for all subsequent semesters.

While Blumke said he thinks the University’s lack of support services for veterans has discouraged them from applying, Monts said it’s the other way around – the University hasn’t implemented the programs that other schools have because it hasn’t had the same number of veterans asking for help.

Veterans make up .12 percent of the University of Michigan student body. But 1.15 percent of students at Ohio State University are veterans.

“The University of Michigan has not historically had a large number of vets,” Monts said. “The ones who do enroll, we will make sure they have the kind of support they need to be successful.”

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