USF to Sign Nation’s First Accord with V.A. in New GI Bill Program

TAMPA, Fla. (June 1, 2009)  – The University of South Florida will become the nation’s first university to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs in a specialized effort to support returning troops who enroll in classes under the new GI Bill this fall. Detailed information can be found on the new USF Veterans Affairs Web site.


President Judy Genshaft and the Honorable Patrick Dunne, the VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits, will sign the accord on Thursday, June 4, at 2:30 p.m. at the Joint Military Leadership Center on the second floor rotunda of C.W. “Bill” Young Hall at USF’s Tampa campus. The agreement expands some benefits and services – such as academic advising, financial aid and career counseling – geared toward veterans who attend USF under the new GI Bill, which goes into effect Aug. 1.


Under the new effort, VetSuccess on Campus, the VA also will have dedicated offices within USF’s Office of Veterans Services to assist veterans in their transition to scholars.


“We are very excited to welcome a full-time staff member from the Department of Veterans Affairs to our team.  Our collective knowledge and expertise will allow for one-stop services for veteran students and enhance their likelihood for success at USF,” said Meredith Nickles, USF’s Coordinator of Veterans Services.


The new GI bill not only covers tuition and fees (up to the highest undergraduate rate in the state, which in this state is at the University of Florida) but provides a monthly housing stipend and up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies. The new legislation also gives those in the reserves and National Guard who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 access to the benefits.


In some cases, service men and women will be able to transfer their benefits to their spouses or children.


Typically, there are about 800 to 1,000 veterans or their dependents at USF under preexisting military benefits that cover tuition and fees. USF has the 10th largest population of veteran and dependent students in the nation and has had a Veterans Services Office on campus since 1974.


“We want the veterans and their dependents who come to USF to find complete success, academically and otherwise, so that they graduate with education and degrees that lead them to professional and personal success,” said W. Robert Sullins, USF’s dean of undergraduate studies.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.