Veterans add to campus diversity

USC President urges top colleges to get more vets into their classrooms 

Chas Henry
May 02, 2018 - 4:15 pm

America's most prestigious colleges should be recruiting more military veterans.

That's the case being made by University of Southern California President Max Nikias -- who says helping vets get the best education possible is both "the right thing to do" and an issue of ensuring campus diversity.

"We felt from the beginning very strongly that we should enroll as many veterans as we can," Nikias says.  "It contributes to the diversity fabric of our university.  I find it very educational, also, for the rest of our students to have the opportunity to meet and interact with our veteran students."

Nearly 1,100 men and women are studying under veteran benefits at USC -- 820 or so of them veterans, the remainder veterans' family members.

Nikias attributes the growing number of veterans at USC to the fact that the university actively encourages acceptance of students who have -- as is the case with many vets -- earned college credit before joining the armed forces, or while serving.

"If you compare USC with our private peers," notes Nikias, "the members of the Association of the American Universities -- which is the top 25 private universities -- we are the only ones who enroll transfer students from community colleges."

Another challenge faced by veterans applying to study at AAU institutions: tuition and fees can exceed GI Bill allowances.  Nikias says USC is one of the few universities in its class offering qualified veterans Yellow Ribbon Scholarships, which pay for expenses beyond those covered by Department of Veterans Affairs dollars.

"We make sure that the Yellow Ribbon veteran students who come to USC graduate with no debt," he says, "because we fully match the funding from that program.  Not all private universities do that."

On the April 21-22 broadcast of CBS Eye on Veterans, Nikias talked about how USC has worked to become veteran-friendly -- by admitting more veterans, creating an on-campus veterans center, and developing academic programs with veterans in mind:

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