Drexel University is dedicated to its large veteran population and was placed 63rd in the 2020 Best Colleges for Veterans ranking by the U.S. News & World Report. Now the University has something else to celebrate – 10 years of participation in the Yellow Ribbon program.
The Yellow Ribbon program allows post-9/11 veterans and their dependents to receive a free, full-time or part-time, on-campus or online education in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional programs at Drexel’s expense. The university announced it would participate in the program beginning in 2009 and committed $2 million at the time.
“The University’s [$2 million] contribution allows veterans who meet government and admissions requirements to receive a completely free education at all of Drexel’s colleges and schools,” DrexelNOW wrote in an August 2010 article.
Shortly after Drexel began offering the program in 2009, nearly 200 student veterans were enrolled on-campus. Now, that number has more than tripled.
“[In 2019], nearly 700 students (510 veterans and 188 dependents) are currently at Drexel through [the Yellow Ribbon program],” DrexelNOW wrote Nov. 4. “The number of offered services and opportunities has increased exponentially as well.”
According to the Drexel Central website, the University will match the government’s contribution to the cost of an education so that tuition is covered 100 percent for eligible veterans and dependents. Other fees are covered as well, and these students also receive a book allowance, so there are no out-of-pocket costs.
Drexel also sets itself apart from other schools by allowing an unlimited number of eligible post-9/11 veterans to take part in the program.
“We will accept all who are eligible under the Yellow Ribbon program as long as they meet the requirements for admission to the University and their chosen program and are extended an offer of admission from the University,” Drexel Central wrote on their website.
Throughout the past decade, over 2,000 student-veterans received funding through the program – and the University is celebrating this significant milestone.
“It was a big, bold move for our institution to [participate in this program],” Vice President of Student Life, Dr. Rebecca Weidensaul told DrexelNOW. “Not only was Drexel thinking about how to financially manage [the program], but it was also simultaneously thinking about how to set up systems that support students as well.”
The Office of Veteran Student Services has largely expanded its offerings for student veterans in past years. Some services available to Drexel’s veteran population are information on admissions, academics, financing, Yellow Ribbon program benefits, disability resources and counseling, according to Student Life’s website.
The Office of Veteran Student Services also plans networking opportunities and social activities, community service events, campus-wide events to celebrate service and orientations for student-veterans. These students can also enjoy the Masci Family Student Veterans Lounge, located in the lower level of the Creese Student Center, which underwent major renovations in July made possible by a donation from Thomas Masci, ‘68 and U.S. Army veteran.
While monetary funding, through efforts like the Yellow Ribbon program, is important in helping veterans continue their education, Drexel had another objective to tackle when it began its participation in the program in 2009.
“[At the start of the program,] we needed to create a community for veterans,” Associate Director of Academic Operations in the College of Computing and Informatics, Melissa Englund said, who was working in Enrollment Management when the program began. “And we did [create a community], and it’s really grown. I didn’t imagine it would be this large.”
The community has launched numerous on-campus organizations as well, including the Drexel Veterans Association, the Drexel Veterans Alumni Network, the Drexel Veterans Colleague Resource Group and the Drexel Veterans Task Force.
Overall, Drexel has stepped up to the plate and continues to provide a plethora of opportunities for its growing veteran population. These important efforts have helped the university earn its reputation as one of the most military-friendly schools in the country.
The sincere dedication to veteran students extends far beyond the Yellow Ribbon program.
“Every year, Drexel honors the service of Dragons who have served through special Veterans Day programming,” DrexelNOW wrote Nov. 4. “This year, that includes a Veterans Day tribute, participation in Philadelphia’s fifth annual Veterans Day Parade, an American flag installation, a discussion and film screening related to combating PTSD, a networking event and presentation and a special event during a men’s basketball game.”
The veteran students on campus form a community that is vital in defining Drexel. The university continues its contribution of $2 million each year to the Yellow Ribbon program to help the veteran community grow.