The Military Times Media Group announced today that Arizona State University has been selected as one of its “Best for Vets” colleges for 2016.
In another indicator of ASU’s support for veterans, Starbucks will expand the College Achievement Plan for Starbucks employees so that employees who are veterans can extend the benefit of tuition-free college education through ASU Online to a spouse or child. More than 4,000 Starbucks employees already take advantage of the CAP program.
To earn a place on the Best for Vets list, schools are evaluated with an in-depth 150-question survey designed to explore how institutions accommodate and benefit veterans, service members and their families.
Surveyors gathered information from the federal government and used the survey responses to develop rankings of the institutions that do the most for people with military backgrounds.
ASU did not disappoint.
“We aren’t just doing what is expected,” said Joanna Sweatt, military and veteran advocate at ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “We are forward-thinking; we are evaluating all the issues and successes that veterans are having in higher education and then implementing programs to take them to the next level of success.”
ASU boasts nearly 4,200 military-affiliated students, including veterans and those still serving on active duty, the Guard or reserves. Additionally, nearly 1,000 military family members are taking classes at ASU.
The hub of veteran support is the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. Through the center, students can get G.I. Bill benefits processed, receive counseling and get a wide range of support from an experienced staff that understands the military experience.
“Our staff is comprised almost entirely of veterans,” said Steve Borden, center director and former U.S. Navy captain. “So we know the language, the benefits process and the transition from military to student life.”
The Military Times recognition is the second military-related accolade earned by ASU this month. G.I. Jobs magazine revealed on Nov. 6 that ASU has been named a “Military Friendly School” for the seventh consecutive year.
The university has come a long way in how it supports veterans, according to Sweatt.
“I was here when the resources didn’t exist and it was really tough,” she said. “We have made it much easier to navigate the system — being an inclusive university matters.”
Sweatt said the university is continuously dreaming up more possibilities to better serve those who’ve served the nation.
“That is really exciting,” said Sweatt, a Marine veteran. “I have never felt limited by the university. You bring them an innovative idea that benefits students and they’re willing to try it.”
ASU’s reputation as a school friendly to veterans and service members is well known throughout the military community.
Jerome Tennille, who postponed college to serve in the U.S. Navy, chose ASU to complete his education after his eight years as an imagery and strike-warfare analyst.
“I remember when I was a kid and Pat Tillman was killed, you know, that’s what I think about when I think about ASU,” said Tennille, a senior ASU Online student studying operations management. “I think about the support they give to veterans. They embrace us.”
ASU’s veteran benefits include access to various scholarships, priority registration and acceptance of credits earned through military courses.
The university also hosts U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs counselors and the federally sponsored Veterans Upward Bound program. Through Upward Bound, low-income vets or those who are first-generation college students can improve their academic skills through free courses in English, mathematics, computer literacy, laboratory science, foreign language and college planning, among others.
Military Times is an independent source of news for the U.S. military community. The company serves all branches of the military through its four flagship publications: Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times.
The Military Times Best for Vets survey is free of charge, and no money is paid by the schools to be in the rankings. There is also no requirement for the schools to advertise in the newspaper, nor does advertisement increase a school’s chances to be listed or ranked higher.
For Sweatt, who is also an ASU alumna, this latest recognition is a source of pride.
“It has been a pleasure working for ASU in this capacity of serving veterans over the last three years,” she said. “I encourage every veteran to attend ASU and to become a Sun Devil.”