La Sierra joins ranks with new G.I. Bill
September 24, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu ) On Sept. 21, Jonathan Kim’s first day at La Sierra University, a chemistry professor began class with prayer. The experience deviated sharply from his experience at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, but it was this Seventh-day Adventist environment in which he most wanted to study. This year, La Sierra’s participation in a new federal tuition assistance program for students with military backgrounds helped make Kim’s dream a reality.
After studying 18 months at Kennesaw State, Kim, a Seventh-day Adventist and native of Murrieta, Ga., enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He served nearly six years at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas working on computer network defense projects and completed his tour of duty in February 2008. After another year at Kennesaw, he began investigating the possibility of attending an Adventist school, mainly because a new GI Bill and its Yellow Ribbon tuition assistance program provided significantly more funding than former programs. “Under the previous program I wouldn’t have been able to attend La Sierra,” Kim said. The old program provided only about $1,300 a month in assistance, he said. “I was looking at different Adventist schools and trying to get into a professional program like dentistry.”
The 27-year-old Kim, who was born in California, is currently enrolled in La Sierra’s biochemistry program and aims to enter the pre-dentistry program. He said he chose La Sierra because the school is more his “style.”
The federal government last year fired a shot at education costs for military personnel and veterans by launching the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. The act includes the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. The so-called Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect this year for education and training that began on or after Aug. 1. The Yellow Ribbon program pays for education and vocational/technical training up to the highest undergraduate tuition at an in-state public institution. Through voluntary agreements with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the higher education institutions students choose to attend may contribute up to 50% of expenses that exceed a state’s highest public undergraduate tuition and the veterans affairs department will match that amount.
Students may be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program if they served an aggregate period of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, of at least 36 months. They may also be eligible if they were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and served 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001. Veterans’ dependents may also be eligible for tuition assistance provided the veteran’s service meets the prescribed criteria.
This year the highest public undergraduate tuition in California is $287 a unit in the University of California system. Through the Yellow Ribbon program, La Sierra will accept up to 25 eligible students and will contribute $7,090 per student per year through a scholarship to help cover the difference in tuition.
The new GI bill is the most comprehensive education benefit package since the original bill was signed into law in 1944, according to veterans affairs department.
La Sierra recently received public recognition for its efforts to aid those with military service backgrounds.
Sewickley, Pa.-based G.I. Jobs magazine surveyed more than 7,000 educational institutions and culled 1,100 for a list of schools catering to military personnel and veterans. La Sierra was among those institutions that made the cut.
“We’re incredibly honored to serve those who have given of themselves so completely for our country,” said La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey. “It is our privilege to be identified as a university that strives to make a difference in the lives of these courageous military personnel and veterans.”
The magazine announced the 2010 military schools list last month. “The tens of billions of dollars in tuition money, now available with the recent passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, has intensified an already strong desire by colleges to court veterans into their classrooms,” said a release announcing the schools list.
“The purpose of the list is a tool for transitioning military personnel, veterans and National Guardsmen and women as well as reservists to search for schools that understand their needs and have taken steps to simplify the process of earning an education,” said Matthew Pavelek, G.I. Jobs senior editor.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University