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Updated 10:00 AM July 27, 2009

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U-M joins Yellow Ribbon Program to benefit student veterans

Additional information about veteran's services at U-M campuses
Ann Arbor:

Matthew Swanson and his family arrived in Ann Arbor a little more than a year ago on a grand new adventure: He was beginning the MBA program at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

Originally from Evansville, Ind., Matthew found the out-of-state tuition daunting. But, along with his wife, Jennifer, and their then 2-year-old son, Sam, Swanson decided to persevere and try to make it financially with a lot of hard work and the assistance of GI benefits available at that time.

Tuition will not be an issue during Swanson's second year at the Ross School, because U-M in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint has joined the Yellow Ribbon Program — part of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the New GI Bill.

Effective in August, the New GI Bill will cover tuition for post-9/11 veterans at a rate up to the state's most expensive in-state public undergraduate level. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows U-M and other participating schools to contribute up to half of the remaining tuition for selected veterans and their dependents. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will match the school's contribution.

"This will provide veterans significant financial support as they transition from the military to student life," says Swanson, a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with 10 years of military service under his belt, much of it as a naval flight officer based in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

"Most military-veteran students are a little older than the average student, and many of us have families. The financial strain is a burden and can be a real barrier. Financially, without Yellow Ribbon, many veterans cannot even consider top schools like Ross," says Swanson, who is president of the Armed Forces Club in the Ross School.

U-M student veterans, particularly those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, strongly encouraged the university's participation in the Yellow Ribbon program.

"We deeply appreciate the diversity of experience and perspective that our student veterans bring to the classroom and our campus," says Philip Larson, the transition specialist in the Office of New Student Programs, where he serves as staff-lead for student veteran services.

In recent years, U-M has worked to increase and expand services for current and projected student veterans, including development of the U-M/Ann Arbor Student Veteran Assistance Program, which is dedicated to:

• Providing resources and referrals to student veterans to help them understand and access all available services and options.

• Providing mentoring and guidance to incoming students by pairing them with a current university student veteran.

• Providing advocacy services to help student veterans resolve issues once usual procedures are exhausted.

• Collaborating with other campus units to assure resolution of questions and problems.

• Identifying and eliminating institutional practices and policies that negatively affect student success or satisfaction.

• Acting as an advocate for deployed military services members to facilitate efficient departures and return.

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