SPRINGFIELD, MO — Ozarks Technical Community College received a $1.3 million Federal TRIO Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program that will assist veterans with their pursuit of postsecondary education. The grant announcement was made today, Nov. 10 during OTC’s Veterans Day commemoration.
“Members of our military have dedicated their lives to our country. Their sacrifice meant putting their educational and career opportunities on hold,” said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon. “This grant will help veterans prepare for college and provide the academic and financial aid guidance necessary to earn a college credential and enter the workforce.”
OTC plans to serve a minimum of 125 veterans each year over the life of the five-year TRIO grant. The funding will provide for advising, academic support, referral to community veterans’ resources, financial aid guidance and veterans’ benefits counseling to prepare participants to attend any college or university of their choosing. Nearly 1,900 veterans have graduated from colleges and universities all over the country with the help of VUB programs. This voluntary program is entirely free to veterans and there are no commitments for participants.
To be eligible for the VUB program, the veteran must either be low-income (living below 150 percent of the poverty rate) or be a first-generation college student (neither parent is a college graduate). Additionally, the veteran must have 181 days of active duty service, have a better than dishonorable discharge and demonstrate academic need.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Greene County is home to more than 21,300 veterans, a significant number of whom would classify as low-income and/or as first-generation college students. Based on Census Bureau data, more than 13 percent of Greene County veterans live below the poverty level, and only 28 percent of veterans in the county have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
“Many veterans return to civilian life and find it difficult to parlay the skills and experiences they’ve had in the military into life as a college student or a meaningful career,” said Dr. Loren Lundstrom, OTC dean of student development and a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel. “This grant funding will allow OTC to give these veterans one-on-one help to navigate higher education, their veterans’ benefits and get them into fulfilling occupations.”
The VUB program will hire four full-time personnel to administer the grant and help with outreach, adult education and advising. Two part-time grant-funded employees will serve as tutors.
The Veterans Upward Bound program is one of the eight programs that make up the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal TRIO Grant Programs, which are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The 100 percent federally funded grant will provide $1,319,655 over five years. None of the financial resources are coming from non-governmental sources.
Students interested in accessing the VUB grant resources should call (417) 447-7840 or visit otc.edu/vub.