Framingham State has been named a top university for veteran students by College Factual, according to its Nov. 6 press release.
The press release states FSU is in the top 10% of colleges in the U.S. for veterans to attend, based on a number of factors, including affordability, population, resources, and satisfaction.
The University is also ranked 8th in the state of Massachusetts for veteran colleges, according to the same press release.
FSU has 241 military-connected students, according to Coordinator of Veteran and Military Student Programs, Leanna Lynch.
Jovan Rivera, a veteran student, appreciates Framingham’s size because “you don’t just become a number – you actually become a student.”
He added, “When you’re going straight into college straight out of high school, I feel like you’re kind of used to being around a lot of people. But then coming out of the military, it’s just, going back to college was kind of scary.”
Lynch explained the number of military-connected dependent children and spouses is expanding. They are able to take full advantage of her office and the benefits, including the survivors and dependents educational assistance program (DEA).
The DEA program is available for dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled.
Massachusetts also hosts a number of small nonprofit veteran organizations. It is also the only state to boast a veteran agent in every city and town.
Veterans Services offers information on a number of grants and scholarships for veterans and family, assistance with benefits, family resources and more.
Lynch said, “The program we have at the school is very good and we’re just going to continue to build upon it.”
Rivera said, “I’ve heard horror stories of students in other schools not being able to get paid on time or anything like that … but we’ve never felt that way. Leanna has always taken care of the paperwork.”
He added, “The best resource that we have is actually having staff that cares, and I think Leanna is that person – like, she’s honestly incredible.”
Veterans Services also employs a number of veteran students in work-study positions, which allows veteran students to help other veterans transition to college easier.
Lynch, who is also an alumna of FSU, helped create the Veterans Center.
The Veterans Center is a space for veterans to be together, study, and socialize, to help with the transition from service to the civilian sector.
Tamika Young, a veteran and student worker, said, “What Leanna did was she went to the dean of students … and said, ‘Hey we need a place for just veterans.’ A year later, we had a whole room.”
Young added, “I really appreciate them hiring Leanna, and before her, Jackie [Wolf], because they’re both veterans, so they get the needs that we are seeking.”
Both Rivera and Young believe that FSU is doing a good job assisting veterans, but needs to keep working to improve even more.
Young hopes what the University can do going forward is meet with veteran students and “ask us collectively what they could do for us.”
She would also like to see the Career Center provide assistance specific to veterans given that they have had jobs already.
“We’re trying our best to hear what the students need, and address that,” Lynch said. “One of the biggest things is just simply being there to help them navigate everything, being there when they’re having a bad day – to be a sounding board so they can go to class and concentrate.”
“It’s exciting to know that I am a part of this institution, and helping fellow veterans and their dependents.
“I feel very lucky,” Lynch said.