Montana State University

MSU ranked among best colleges for veterans by Military Times magazine

November 7, 2016 -- Denise Hoepfner, MSU News Service

Military TimesMilitary veterans chat between classes at MSU. Military Times magazine named Montana State University one of the best colleges for veterans in its annual Best for Vets: Colleges ranking. It is the only institution in Montana to make the list.  MSU photo by Kelly GorhamStudents study in the Veteran Center in the Strand Union Building at Montana State University. Military Times magazine named Montana State University one of the best colleges for veterans in its annual Best for Vets: Colleges ranking. It is the only institution in Montana to make the list. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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BOZEMAN – Montana State University has been named among the best colleges for veterans in a ranking conducted by a well-respected military news magazine.

Military Times, a print and digital magazine, ranked MSU as No. 89 out of the 130 four-year universities to make its Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 ranking, published Nov. 1, on its website. The ranking will also be published in the print version of Military Times as well as in the print and online versions of Air Force Times, Army Times, Marine Corps Times and Navy Times.

MSU is the only institution in Montana to make the list.

“We at MSU are very proud of this achievement,” said Brenda York, director of the MSU Office of Disability, Re-entry and Veteran Services. “Military Times does extensive background research to compile this ranking, so making this list shows the high-level commitment MSU has to veterans.”

To create the ranking, Military Times invited colleges and universities across the country to complete a 150-question survey detailing services it provides to military students and their families and to describe the veteran culture on campus.

Military Times then evaluated the survey results along with data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense and three education department databases for information including veteran-related polices and average salaries after graduation, according to an explanation of the ranking methodology found on its website, militarytimes.com.

Institutions were evaluated in five categories: University culture, academic outcomes/quality, student support, academic policies, and cost and financial aid, according to the website.

MSU’s appearance on the Best for Vets college list comes as no surprise to Marcus “Doc” Cravens who, along with his wife, first walked into MSU’s DRV office four years ago.

Cravens, who served nearly nine years as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy with nearly eight of those years with the U.S. Marine Corps, was seeking support and benefits information to enroll at MSU. He said at first he was “overwhelmed” by the number of people in the office.

But, a friendly welcome by way of a student-worker who was also a Marine helped quell Cravens’ nerves and boosted his confidence in the office’s services and in himself.

“The leadership and camaraderie that we established while in the service carried over to the front desk,” said Cravens, who will earn his bachelor’s degree in photography in the spring.

“That first interaction is what brought me back,” he added. “I have now been in there as a veteran, but also as part of the Veteran Mentor Program, for almost four years.”  

The Veteran Mentor Program pairs incoming veterans with a student-veteran or the spouse of a veteran to help them successfully navigate campus.

MSU also offers veterans a dedicated counselor, tutoring assistance, priority registration and an orientation session that are all geared toward helping veterans acclimate to campus and become familiar with the resources and programs available to them.

New this year, MSU added “Veteran Jumpstart,” a summer program that familiarizes incoming veterans with college-level math and writing before they begin the fall semester.

MSU also provides a Veteran Support Center, a dedicated space for veterans and their spouses in the Strand Union Building that is equipped with computer stations, tables for independent or group study, a lounge area and printing services.

Each year, staff in MSU’s DRV office work with nearly 600 student-veterans to help them coordinate their finances and get the support they need to succeed in school. The office helps veterans with GI Bill funding and other issues, such as housing and employment. The office also coordinates scholarships available to veterans and/or their spouses.

In addition to the Military Times ranking, MSU has been lauded numerous times elsewhere for its strong support of veterans through its commitment to veteran services.

In September, USA Today ranked MSU as No. 136 out of 1,427 best colleges and universities for veterans.

Last year, MSU earned a top school designation for the second year running from Military Advanced Education and Transition, an annual guide measuring best practices in military and veteran education; and the website MilitaryFriendly.com named MSU and MSU Billings among the nation’s military-friendly universities on its 2016 compilation of schools that support student veterans.

Also in 2015, MSU received the first Impact Montana Organizational Award during the Montana Military Community Appreciation Gala for service to the military.

While receiving accolades is nice, York said, more important are the efforts MSU puts forth to earn them.

“Veterans have served our country and now it is time to give back to them, and to provide the services that allow for access to the classroom in the best way possible,” York said. “MSU has committed to do just that.”

Cravens said he appreciates how MSU’s support reaches a diverse group of veterans because it is representative of what he encountered during the time he served.

“We come from all walks of life and not all of us are from the U.S.,” he said. “MSU supports and understands the impact all veterans can have in the community.”

For more information about the Military Times ranking, go to: http://www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2017.

For more information about MSU’s Veteran Services and the Veteran Support Center, go to: http://www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2017.

Contact: Brenda York, (406) 994-2824 or byork@montana.edu

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