Posted: March 14, 2012

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@MinnState.edu, 651-201-1426

Continued increase expected as service members return from overseas duty

Innovative academic programs, enhanced services and campus-based veterans centers have helped boost enrollment of veterans, active service members and National Guard members attending Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. In 2011, 10,644 veterans and service members were enrolled in one of the system’s 31 institutions, up 57 percent from 6,777 students in 2008.

“Veterans, National Guard and active service members are an invaluable part of the workforce that Minnesota needs to remain competitive,” said Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “We especially welcome our returning vets to our campuses, and we are committed to helping them complete their certificate and degree programs to prepare them for great jobs. We offer the most affordable postsecondary option in Minnesota and service members will receive an extraordinary education at our campuses.”

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system serves more veterans and active service members than any other sector of higher education in Minnesota. Gina Sobania, military education director for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, traveled to Kuwait earlier this month as part of a nine-person Minnesota Employment Resources Team to help prepare Minnesota National Guard troops for education and employment on their return. Enrollment of veterans in Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is expected to continue to increase as 2,700 members of the Minnesota National Guard return from their deployments in Kuwait and Afghanistan over the next several months.

To help ensure a smooth transition to civilian life, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has an education and career planning tool, MyMilitary GPS LifePlan, available at www.gpslifeplan.org/mnscumilitary. The tool helps veterans, service members and their family members set goals and design education, career, finance and personal well-being plans that will help lead them to the success they desire.

In recent years, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have taken steps to improve services to Minnesota veterans and service members. These actions include:

  • Establishing veterans centers or space for veterans services on every campus;
  • Developing a more systematic approach to granting college credit for military education;
  • Providing telephone and online support for educational counseling; and
  • Participating in reintegration sessions to help veterans and their family members understand their higher education options. 75 to 80 percent of returning service members attending reintegration sessions indicated an interest in college.

In addition, all Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are Servicemember Opportunity Colleges (SOC). SOC is a consortium of about 1,900 institutions that function in cooperation with 15 higher education associations, the Department of Defense and active and reserve components of the military services to expand and improve postsecondary education opportunities for service members.

In 2010, Minnesota’s governor awarded “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” status to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities for the system’s work with veterans and service members.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system includes 24 two-year community and technical colleges and seven state universities. It is the fifth largest higher education system of its kind in the United States. Each year, more than 420,000 students from all walks of life attend MnSCU colleges and universities for undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate and diploma programs, training and retraining classes and courses to enrich their lives. MnSCU educates:

  • 63 percent of Minnesota’s undergraduates;
  • 49 percent of the state’s new teaching graduates;
  • More than 80 percent of new nursing, construction trades, law enforcement and mechanics graduates; and
  • 9,000 firefighters and emergency first responders each year.

These are recent high school graduates, adult learners, workers and professionals retooling to meet the current and future needs of Minnesota’s businesses. More than 80 percent of MnSCU graduates stay in Minnesota to work or continue their education. Nearly 86 percent of MnSCU graduates get jobs related to their field of study. In addition, MnSCU partners with 6,000 employers throughout the state to provide customized training to 122,000 employees, helping to ensure that these Minnesota companies remain competitive. MnSCU delivers the most affordable and cost effective higher education option in Minnesota.

Click here for a fact sheet on veterans service.

Click here for a copy of Unduplicated Credit Headcount: Estimated Number of Veterans, Active Military and National Guard 2009, 2009, 2010.