Ramapo College was recently added to the Military Friendly Schools list, which honors the top 15 percent of schools that do the most to embrace military veterans coming back home and helping them transition to civilian life.
Veterans looking to enroll in college can visit the Military Friendly Schools website, which provides them with tools and information that helps them choose the school that they feel suits them best based on their wants and needs.
Ramapo's Veterans Administrator, Dorothy Gillman, is the school liaison to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and said the first thing Ramapo does is waive the admissions fee to veterans. There are also designated administrators at Ramapo who deal with specific issues for military students, including Mike DiBartolomeo in admissions, Venus Hewing in counseling and Jon Yao in advisement.
Students around campus said they feel that this is a great move to honor those that have served the country.
"Citizens appreciate what they do, even if we don't think of it everyday," junior Jordan Anderson said. "Giving them an education, something they fight for, is the right thing to do."
Students can also find veteran-specific resources on Ramapo's website, including on pages for the Office of Financial Aid and Cahill Center.
In addition to those tools, there are also a few scholarships available to veterans to help pay for school, which can also be found on the Financial Aid site. One of these is the Ross Family Survivor to Survivors Scholarship, which totals nearly $18,000. There is also a $525 scholarship, the Hackett Service to America Scholarship.
Michelle Weise, a senior, said she thinks the scholarships are Ramapo's way of making sure it takes care of those who took care of the country.
"I'm sure I'm not alone when I say it's a great idea," Weise said. "They spent a great deal of time and sacrificed a lot to serve us, so returning something like a college education is one way to repay that debt."
Even though they are not in active duty, veterans at Ramapo haven't stopped serving the community. Ramapo recently approved a club for veterans, appropriately called the Veteran Student Organization, which meets twice a week despite time conflicts with most students' jobs.
When the club does convene, members coordinate and run various charity events. Gillman said the organization will run a Toys for Tots drive again in December and will run another blood drive in the spring.
Gillman said the biggest challenge in attracting veterans is that Ramapo is not a very well known institution. Oftentimes, the school's setting leaves Ramapo overlooked, because while veteran population has increased recently, there could be a bigger number.
"While Ramapo is not in a geographic area where they would flock to us like a school near a base or a city school, our population has increased" from pre- to post-9/11, Gillman explained.
Overall, Ramapo has many programs in place to honor military veterans and ensure that they are afforded higher education with as much ease as possible.
David Jacob, a senior, commends the bravery of America's veterans.
"They are more than deserving of a college education that we all get," Jacob said. "I guess this is Ramapo's way of giving back, and I'm all for it."