New data indicate that the majority of veterans in Massachusetts – 58 percent – who make use of GI Bill benefits are choosing to attend public institutions for college, including Framingham State University, according to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Framingham State currently enrolls 84 veterans under the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2010, which covers all public institutions’ tuition and fees for citizens who served in the military in the past decade. That number is close to double the 51 students enrolled at Framingham State in 2007, according to data from the state department.
“Massachusetts is blessed with many extraordinarily fine public and private universities, and I think the results show that many veterans are coming home and finding what they need in our public colleges and universities, ranging from programs that can get them into the workplace quickly, to support services veterans need and deserve that many of our campuses have,” department spokesperson Katy Abel said.
“Our administration applauds all returning veterans who have enrolled in one of the many higher education institutions in Massachusetts,” said Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who chairs the Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services.
The state does not stand alone in boasting Framingham’s military friendliness. G.I. Jobs Magazine, the premier publication for military transitioners, listed Framingham State in the 2012 Guide to Military Friendly Schools, placing the institution in the top 20 percent of schools and colleges in the country “that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans,” according to Framingham State spokesman Dan Magazu.
“Framingham State is proud to be listed in this influential guide to educational opportunity,” university President Timothy Flanagan said.
According to Magazu, Framingham State attracts many veterans due to the services offered, including daycare facilities on campus, a veterans group, allowing active military students leave without penalty, discounts for military personnel, and specific veteran events.
“In 2008, we established a new Veteran and Service Member Resource Center staffed by students who are actively enlisted or are U.S. Military veterans,” Magazu said. “The Center is a resource for our student veterans who are overseas or on campus and have questions or concerns about paperwork or military programs.”
One military-specific campus event next Monday will celebrate Veteran’s Day while focusing on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
The Veteran’s Day Remembrance event on Nov. 14 will feature Professor John Ambacher reading soldiers’ letters from past American wars, photos of family members from the FSU community who served in the military, and the Framingham State Chorus performing songs from the Civil War era.
The event begins at 1:30 p.m. in in the Ecumenical Center.
Flavio Mendes, 30, is a senior at Framingham State who also served eight years in the Marine Corps and three years in the National Guard.
Mendes said veterans differ from the average college students because they are usually well-travelled, older, more mature, and have a different perspective on societal and political issues.
"I contribute a different point of view and life experience than the average college student who just left high school," the history major, who also heads up the campus Veterans Association chapter, said.
Mendes, who grew up in Milford and now resides in Waltham, said he chose Framingham State because he was drawn to the campus and small class sizes.
"I liked the campus in the sense that everything was close by - not like UMass Amherst, where it takes 30 minutes to get from one class to another," Mendes said. "I prefer small class interaction over the lecture hall of bigger schools. There's more personal interaction and attention, and you get a better education, to be quite honest."
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