RD331 - 2013 Annual Report on the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program

Executive Summary:

Under the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP), tuition and required fees are waived at Virginia public colleges and universities for the qualified survivors and dependents of certain military service members. Through the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Fund (VMSDEF), a stipend is provided to offset the costs of room, board, books, and supplies. The amount of the stipend is determined by the Virginia General Assembly, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), and the availability of Commonwealth general funds.

A qualified survivor and dependent is defined as the spouse, or child between the ages of 16 and 29, of a military service member who, while serving as an active duty member in the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserves, the Virginia National Guard, or Virginia National Guard Reserve, during military operations against terrorism, on a peacekeeping mission, as a result of a terrorist act, or in any armed conflict subsequent to December 6, 1941, was killed or is missing in action or is a prisoner of war, or of a veteran who, due to such service, has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as totally and permanently disabled or at least 90 percent disabled, and has been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. Domiciliary requirements also apply and are detailed in the Code of Virginia.

The Code of Virginia requires the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) to report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly on the agency’s policies and strategies relating to dissemination of information about the Program. The report must also include the number of current beneficiaries, the educational institutions attended by beneficiaries, and the completion rate of the beneficiaries.

Information Dissemination

Information about the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program is disseminated through multiple communications channels, including:

• DVS website;

• SCHEV website;

• Virginia public college and university websites;

• Information is published in “Opportunities: Preparing for college guide and workbook.” SCHEV partners with ECMC (Educational Credit Management Corporation) to produce and update this publication annually. Printed copies are distributed to students and guidance counselors free of charge through public and private high schools in Virginia. An electronic version of the guide is also posted on the SCHEV website;

• Meetings with college and university officials. DVS provides information and training annually on military and veteran education benefits, including VMSDEP;

• DVS-developed VMSDEP informational brochure, distributed through a variety of channels (colleges and universities, high school career fairs, veterans conferences, etc.);

• Direct outreach to veterans whose disability rating and period of service would potentially make their dependents eligible for VMSDEP benefits:

* These veterans are identified through a review of all new rating decisions for Virginia veterans promulgated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) Roanoke Regional Office;

* In Fiscal Year 2013, approximately 1,522 veterans were identified whose period of service and level of disability met VMSDEP requirements, making their spouse and qualifying children potentially eligible for VMSDEP benefits;

* DVS notified these veterans directly about the VMSDEP and offered assistance with the VMSDEP application process.

Current Beneficiaries and Institutions Attended

A total of 1,100 unique students were awarded a VMSDEP stipend during the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters. This represents a 12.6 percent increase over the number of unique students receiving a VMSDEP stipend in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 (994 unique students). Nineteen students attended more than one college or university and are counted twice in the subtotals presented in Appendices A and B, giving a total of 1,119 students.

Of the 1,119 students, forty-three percent (or 485 students) attended a four-year institution, while fifty-seven percent (634 students) attended a two-year college or community college.

Tidewater Community College led all schools with 247 students. Northern Virginia Community College was second among community colleges with 59 students.

Old Dominion University had the highest participation (113 students) among four-year institutions, followed by Virginia Commonwealth University with 82 students.

Detailed information for 2012-2013 is presented in Appendix A, while comparison of participants from 2010-13 is presented in Appendix B.

Completion Rates

Forty percent of students who entered a Virginia public institution in Fall 2007 and who used VMSDEP stipends graduated within five years (2011-2012 school year). Information is presented in Appendix C showing the degree completion rates by type of institution.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) tracks graduation rates for Virginia colleges and universities. Information presented in Appendix C may be found on the SCHEV website at http://research.schev.edu/gradrates/subcohorts.asp by selecting the following options: (see page 4 of the report).

The 2007-2008 school year was the first full year in which graduation rates for VMSDEP students were tracked as a separate category. As of the date of this report, data is available through the 2011-2012 school year.

Code of Virginia and Appropriations Act Authority

Code of Virginia and Appropriations Act authority related to the VMSDEP is presented in Appendix D.