ALLENDALE — Grand Valley State University has received gold status from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the second year for its commitment to supporting student veterans.

MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly School program recognizes institutions of higher learning for their dedication to student veterans and dependents using G.I. Bill and other education benefits. Schools can receive bronze, silver or gold status.

Steven Lipnicki, assistant dean of students, said initiatives are in place at Grand Valley to help student veterans succeed academically and transition to post-military employment or graduate school.

“Some student veterans can experience barriers, such as academic preparation, health issues, financial concerns, and feeling disconnected to campus,” Lipnicki said. “Our efforts focus on assisting the increasing number of veterans who choose to attend Grand Valley.”

The number of student veterans and dependents attending Grand Valley has grown from less than 200 in 2009 to nearly 700 in 2015.

Criteria to become a gold-status institution include having an on-campus veteran’s coordinator or center; a website; student organization; a process to identify current student veterans; and a process to monitor and evaluate academic retention, completion, graduation rate and job placements.

Grand Valley provides in-state tuition for veterans and active military members who are stationed in Michigan. The university is a member of the Consortium of Michigan Veteran Educators and is part of the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” initiative through the U.S. Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs. Grand Valley is also one of 42 institutions in the country that participates in the Peer Advisor of Veteran Education program, which pairs peer advisors with new student veterans.

Learn more about Grand Valley’s Student Veterans Network at www.gvsu.edu/veterans.

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