Military & Veteran Student Brief: November 2021
UAA is proud of our long-standing support of military personnel and their families throughout the UAA service area. With two locations on Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson (JBER), UAA offers courses for active-duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel, spouses, dependents, and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian personnel. For the thirteenth year in a row, UAA is a Military Friendly® School, recognizing UAA as a top-tier institution with opportunities for military service members and spouses.
UAA Military and Veteran Student Services
Military & Veteran Student Services (MVSS) is dedicated to providing high quality and comprehensive support to military and veteran students and their families by encouraging, promoting and advising students to be successful. The goal of MVSS is to ease the transition from military into college by providing students with the tools needed to succeed while also fostering a receptive, knowledgeable and understanding community within the university. For more information about MVSS resources and events, see the MVSS homepage or visit the MVSS Resource Center in the Student Union, Room 102.
Program Updates & New Initiatives
Flat Rate for Military & Veteran Students
MVSS is pleased to announce many new and exciting initiatives this year. Starting in the Fall 2021 semester, UAA implemented a reduced military tuition rate. This new rate caps undergraduate tuition at $250 per credit and waives all student fees. This fall, 129 students utilized the new reduced tuition rate. In conjunction with this new tuition rate, MVSS has expanded its service onto JBER education centers. MVSS now has staff on JBER three days a week. This expanded coverage will help MVSS better serve military-affiliated students.
MVSS has revamped the UAA Seawolf Boot Camp to improve our efforts to familiarize the UAA community with the military and veteran student experience. Hopefully, this will lead to a better overall experience for the more than 1,300 students attending UAA who are using some form of Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefit or DOD tuition assistance.
UAA Military Student Success Task Force
During the spring of 2021 UAA created a Military Student Success Task Force to identify problems facing military and veteran students. The task force surveyed former and current students in order to identify issues and consulted them on the best ways to solve these issues. Many of the recommendations put forth by the task force have already been implemented, while many more are in the planning stage. We look forward to continued progress on these initiatives in the upcoming year.
Housing Allowance Complications
UAA saw a 15% decrease in military and veteran students from the previous year and a 10% decrease in the number of credits taken. These decreases can be attributed to a host of challenges facing our military and veteran student population. One of the main challenges facing our veteran students is the way in which their housing allowance is calculated. In order for them to receive the full amount they need to be taking at least one class in person.
At the start of the pandemic an exception was made for students to be able to continue to receive the full amount of housing as long as they were in at least one course that had to be moved online due to the pandemic. This exception is set to expire soon, which means students will need to be able to find an in-person class in order to maximize their benefits. Under the current VA regulations this will become a larger challenge as more and more courses are offered online.
MVSS Continuing Programs
Veterans Student Orientation
In partnership with MVSS, New Student Orientation hosts a Veteran Student Orientation session during the summer to facilitate the integration of new students who identify as active duty military, veteran or dependent. The goal is to support students into the academic, intellectual, and social culture of UAA.
Seawolf Boot Camp
Seawolf Boot Camp is a faculty and staff training program designed to familiarize the UAA community with the military and veteran student experience so that UAA may better serve those who served. In Seawolf Boot Camp, participants learn information about military and veteran culture, challenges military and veteran students encounter, VA benefits, how to create a military and veteran friendly environment, and available resources. Recently the training has been revamped to include current best practices and updated information on policies and rules impacting students using VA and DOD educational benefits.
Participants receive a Seawolf Boot Camp t-shirt, decal, and magnet. The items serve as an incentive to faculty and staff to become better informed on the issues faced by this large student population. The items also signify to students, staff and faculty that the individual displaying them has learned about these student experiences and as a result is better equipped to support and assist military and veteran students.
Veterans Work Here
MVSS provides staff and faculty members who have served with a “Veterans Work Here” sticker to place in their office. This displays what a large portion of the UAA community has worn the uniform and offers student veterans examples of veterans who successfully accomplished their academic goals while transitioning into their civilian careers.
Veterans Appreciation Week
Veterans Appreciation Week is an annual standing celebration at UAA since its inception in 2011. The week in November includes a variety of events which in past years has included panel discussions on teaching student veterans, panel discussions on student experiences by student veterans, and the National Roll Call event on November 11. During the COVID-19 pandemic, UAA partnered with UAF and UAS to offer informational webinars to students at all three campuses.
Graduate Honor Cords
UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell is pleased to offer the Military & Veteran Honor Cord to any graduating active duty, guard/reserve or veteran student. These cords signify the appreciation that UAA feels toward our military and veteran community for their service and sacrifice.
UAA works closely with local personnel in Veterans Affairs (VA), the State of Alaska Department of Military & Veterans Affairs (DMVA), the DOL, and education officers from the military. This collaboration allows for UAA to stay on the leading edge of trends that affect military and veteran students.
VetSuccess on Campus
The VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program, sponsored by the VA, was introduced to UAA in 2012. The VSOC program aims to help veterans, service members and their qualified dependents succeed and thrive through a coordinated delivery of on-campus benefits assistance and counseling, leading to completion of their education and preparing them to enter the labor market in viable careers.
Council of College & Military Educators
The Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) works to provide educational programs and services and to facilitate communication between the membership and the DOD educational support network. UAA representatives annually attend the national CCME conference to exchange ideas and information to better serve the educational pursuits of the UAA military community.
National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators
The National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators (NAVPA) provides access to training opportunities surrounding veterans education benefits. By being a member of NAVPA, UAA has the opportunity to be part of an organization that provides input to lawmakers and to the Department of Veterans Affairs on issues that impact veterans educational benefits. MVSS staff routinely attend conferences and training sessions provided by NAVPA to ensure we are implementing best practices at UAA.
Student Veterans of UAA
Student Veterans of UAA (SVUAA) is a chartered member of the national organization Student Veterans of America. The SVUAA chapter is highly active and plays an important role in raising awareness about issues facing military and veteran students. SVUAA members have participated in the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFÉ) and Seawolf Boot Camp training sessions to help faculty and staff be better prepared to address the needs of military and veteran students. SVUAA activities routinely include participating in events like the Arc of Anchorage Trunk or Treat event and a Spring BBQ.
Evaluation of Military Credit
UAA follows the guidelines in the American Council on Education (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. This guide identifies military training (courses) and experiences (occupations) that are comparable to college courses. Based on the military courses and occupations, the ACE guide makes credit recommendations that are categorized into four levels: vocational, lower division, upper division and graduate.
UAA accepts 100% of the courses and occupations for credit within the lower division and upper division levels. In order to ensure that students are not disadvantaged with excessive elective credit, students work with their advisors to request the transfer of specific credits. Graduate level credits are accepted if listed on a student’s approved graduate studies plan or successfully petitioned to fulfill specific degree requirements. Professional level credits are not accepted. Less than one percent of military transcript training or experience that UAA evaluates for transfer are at the vocational level, which UAA does not accept.
Elective credits may be awarded to students who have completed military training or courses in accordance with the ACE Guide. Additionally, credits may be granted for formal service schools and the most recent primary and secondary military occupation specialty (MOS) or rating as recommended in the ACE Guide. For more information, see Nontraditional Credit Policies: Military Credit in the university catalog.
UAA evaluates military training and experiences for admitted degree-seeking students.
UAA also accepts DSST (formerly DANTES), UExcel, and CLEP exams as outlined in the
Transfer of Military Credit
UAA follows the policies articulated in the Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit, developed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
UAA has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense whereby UAA agrees to recognize, accept and award credit where appropriate from the Joint Services Transcript (JST), Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) and the Coast Guard Institute. When processing an individual’s documented educational plan, transcripts from these institutes are considered official source documentation of military training and experience documentation that correspond with college credit recommendations.
UAA accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited military institutions, including: United States Naval Academy, United States Military Academy at West Point, United States Coast Guard Academy and United States Air Force Academy. UAA maintains a military credit website to better inform students of opportunities for transferring military.
What Does Not Transfer
Many military courses that transfer to UAA as elective credit may not apply to specific degree programs. For example, how would the military college course Ammunition Technician (ACE ID MOS-411A-001) apply toward the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in History? Each UAA degree represents a specific body of knowledge and/or skill particular to the discipline, and program requirements are developed to maximize a student’s mastery of the required body of knowledge. If a transfer course does not contribute to the body of knowledge needed to complete a specific degree—even if accepted as elective credit by the university—it is not used to meet that degree’s major requirements.
Credits that are not applied toward a degree program are often interpreted as being “not transferred” or “not accepted” or “lost.” But they are actually transferred to UAA, and they count toward the overall number of credits required for graduation. Students have the option to petition these credits if they think they can demonstrate that the credits do, in fact, apply to the body of knowledge of a UAA degree program.
The following policies are taken from the UAA Catalog, “Academic Standards and Regulations: Course Performance.”
Class Attendance and Absences
Students who receive short-term military orders or obligations are responsible for making advance arrangements with faculty members to enable them to meet course requirements. Students participating in official intercollegiate activities on behalf of UAA, including but not limited to athletic competitions, debate and performing arts, are responsible for making advance arrangements with faculty members to enable them to meet course requirements. Faculty are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations for such students. In some cases accommodation may not be possible.
Military Students Called to Active Duty or Deployment
Students who are called to active duty or are involuntarily activated, deployed or
relocated during an academic term may be able to make arrangements with their faculty
members to complete their courses via e-learning. In those cases where this is not
possible or desirable, these students are eligible for the 100 percent refund of tuition
and fees and a prorated adjustment on housing and meal plans. Returning military students
are not required to reapply for admission and are welcomed back as in-state residents
for tuition purposes.
The Office of Financial Aid (OFA) offers students individual in-person, online, or telephone appointments to assist them in applying for financial aid or to resolve problems encountered during the application process. Recently, OFA learned that the VA had automatically applied for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan forgiveness for veterans with a service-connected disability. This action required specialized outreach and support to those veterans interested in continuing to borrow federal student loans.
Institutional Scholarships Scholarships
OFA continues to offer free institutional money in support of all students who meet eligibility conditions, regardless of their veteran status, including the general administration scholarship and specialty programs such as the “49 Finishers,” “Chancellor’s Success,” and “Seawolf Start.” These institutional scholarships help cover costs related to the Federal Cost of Attendance guidelines: tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. This allows students receiving tuition benefits from the VA or DOD to also receive scholarships from UAA for both merit or financial need purposes without negatively impacting their service-related tuition benefits.
State Tuition Assistance
OFA works closely with the Education Services Specialists for the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer the State Tuition Assistance Program for members of the Alaska National Guard and Naval Militia. Just over $400,000 is set aside annually by UA to augment existing active duty and veterans benefits for eligible members, supporting their academic goals with reduced debt.
UAA signed the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which provides overall guidance and policy for provision of education to active duty, guard and reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines as well as their dependents and allows UAA to participate in the Tuition Assistance (TA) program. Since October 2011, UAA has signed two Voluntary Education Partnership MOUs issued by the DOD.