Slippery Rock University is ranked high nationally for being one of the top military friendly schools. This is the tenth year in a row that the university has been rated military-friendly, according to George McDowell, recruitment and retention strategist and veterans certifying official.
“I think that shows a tradition and history of trying to make veteran and military students one of the more specific student groups that we try to work with,” McDowell said.
McDowell said that the system has a standard of 100 percent according to state and federal regulations, and that SRU exceeds this in every category.
According to the Military Friendly Schools website, SRU exceeds academic policies and compliance by 92.86 percent, exceeds admissions by 47.47 percent, exceeds culture and commitment by 56.41 percent, exceeds financial aid by 24.84 percent and exceeds military student support and retention by 56.93 percent.
“We have a silver rating this year which means we are a little better than the average school that has taken the survey,” McDowell said.
He said that we have about 450 military students at SRU. McDowell reiterated that some are veteran students, where others are military dependents or guard and reserve students.
“Guard and reserve students come in from high school, but also sign a contract with the national guard to go to guard for six years with exchange for the guard paying for their tuition,” McDowell said.
McDowell said that some of the benefits that military students receive include Pell grants, that everyone is eligible for. The guard and reserve also have an educational assistance program that pays for tuition, and there is also the post 9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33 which pays for tuition, fees and gives them an allowance for books and housing, he said.
“It is our job to make it easier for those who have served to serve them as they come here once they are out of the military and want to move on with their lives and be successful,” McDowell said.
There are several groups and organizations on campus that military students can take part in. McDowell said that SRU has a military support group, Student Veterans of America Chapter and The Veteran’s Center located in the suite.
“Any student is allowed to use the Veteran’s Center in the suite and it allows them to come hang out there with other students and military students,” McDowell said.
He also said that the president now has a commission on Veteran and Military Affairs, which he is a co-chair of.
“This is important to us because it brings this group of students up to the presidential level so they can see if there are any issues or ways we can better serve these students,” McDowell said.
James Berger, an SRU Military student said that the Student Veterans of America is the main student organization on campus for veterans.
“We may all be from different branches of service but we share very similar service backgrounds and experiences that we can relate to each other and support each other,” Berger said.
McDowell ended by saying that it takes everyone to make these goals happen.
“It is a whole village including student success, office for inclusive excellence, academic services, academic records, and financial aid,” he said. “There are so many different offices and faculty that work together to make this successful.”