IUP has been selected for a high ranking among military-friendly schools.

Through the past seven years, IUP has been on the Military Friendly Schools list along with 1,200 other colleges and universities that were considered for the ranking. Among the 162 universities in the nation, IUP has earned a spot in the rankings as one of only six in Pennsylvania selected for the 2021 “Gold Award” status.

Annually, around 1,000 veterans or military-affiliated students study at IUP. Since fall 2014, IUP’s enrollment of veterans and military-affiliated students has increased by almost 70 percent.

After opening in 2014, IUP’s Military and Veterans Resource Center (MVRC) has managed to work collaboratively with IUP programs and services as a one-stop information and referral site to help students transition to college life and achieve their academic goals.

In 2016, the Veterans Affairs Benefits Office was moved into the MVRC. Its goal is to increase campus awareness of student veteran issues and fostering a sense of camaraderie, community and well-being for all veterans, military-affiliated students and their families.

To be selected for the Military Friendly Schools ranking list, institutions are evaluated based on public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. Universities are judged in several categories, including graduation, job placement, loan default rates for all students and student veterans, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and student retention.

To meet the criteria for the list, universities and institutions have to demonstrate efforts to recruit and retain students who are veterans or in the military, success in recruiting those students and academic accreditations.

Since MVRC opened, veteran students and military-affiliated students have learned how to navigate IUP and received help with VA educational benefits that allow them to succeed academically and personally. The “Gold Award,” which IUP received this year, is a testament to the work that IUP has done to support veterans and military-affiliated students.

“This designation not only shows the tremendous work done in the Military and Veterans Resource Center, but across the entire university on both the academic and non-academic side,” Dr. Cory Shay, director of IUP’s MVRC, said. “IUP will continue to work hard to improve our services for our veterans.”

For students involved with MVRC program, they are supported with transition assistance, mental health counseling, study skill workshops and other services. Students are also eligible for additional scholarships and in-state tuition without residency requirements that is specifically military students and veterans.

Since the center opened, veteran and military-affiliated students have been able to obtain degrees in computer science, human resource management, criminal justice and more. Receiving this award has acknowledged the center’s hard work and represents the appreciation of the work they’ve done over the years.

“Once again, it is an honor to be recognized by Victory Media as a military-friendly school,” Shay said on behalf of the MVRC.

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