University to take advantage of updated G.I. Bill to better target veteran applicants

“This program…allows the University to build in a more direct line with the veterans.”

By Constance Zhang

The Yellow Ribbon Program, a new component of the G.I. Bill, may bring more veterans to the University of Chicago as well as other colleges, according to André E. Phillips, the senior associate director of admissions and director of transfer admissions.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) recently modified the G.I. Bill, which provides assistance for veterans to attend out-of-state public and private institutions of higher education. The price tag of the new G.I. Bill is estimated to cost around $78 billion over the next 10 years, which constitutes a greater increase than expected by many college officials.

Phillips hopes that the Yellow Ribbon program, a component of the bill that allows colleges to enter into agreements with the VA to reduce costs, will raise the U of C’s relatively minor presence in the veteran community.

“There have been other institutions that have aggressively promoted the bill, but the U of C hasn’t,” Phillips said. “The Yellow Ribbon program aims, on the front end, to clarify the potential challenges facing the veterans, which I hope will lead more veterans to consider the U of C.”

Phillips said the program will provide the U of C admissions office with the opportunity to expand on efforts toward direct advising in the veterans’ application process. “This program,” Phillips said, “allows the University to build in a more direct line with the veterans.”

In addition, the University’s new Student-at-Large Program, open to veterans, provides assistance and advising about existing college credits and making decisions about pursuing higher education, and allows them to participate in a range of courses before officially enrolling in the University and pursuing a college degree.

According to Phillips, the Student-at-Large Program will provide “the ideal new collegiate step that will result in more traffic from veterans.”

The Yellow Ribbon program has generated discussion within the University on recruitment initiatives, as well as an evaluation of the programs that are already in place.

“The U of C has always to work one-on-one with the veterans, and this provided the U of C freedom from the defects in the old bill that many other institutions who had large numbers of veterans experienced,” Phillips said.

Illinois is the first state in the country in which all institutions of higher education, both public and private, have committed to participating in the Yellow Ribbon program. The Yellow Ribbon Program is expected to go into effect in August 2009.