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St. John’s teams up with feds to offer vets tuition

Veterans back from Afghanistan and Iraq could soon be going to St. John’s University for free now that the school has joined a new federal program that aims to improve financial aid for members of the military and their families, St. John’s and federal officials said this week.

St. John’s is one of 1,100 schools nationwide to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed by Congress last year. As part of the program, the federal government and St. John’s will typically split the cost of a veteran’s tuition and fees. The veteran’s spouse and children may also be eligible for the benefits.

St. John’s officials said students could begin to take advantage of the program as early as this fall, and the university has no limit as to how many veterans can participate.

“This is an exciting opportunity to help vets who are coming back home,” said Jorge Rodriguez, associate vice president for financial services. “It will help veterans get an education.”

Individuals who are eligible for the program and are accepted into St. John’s will be allowed to attend any undergraduate or graduate programs as well as the law school, Rodriguez said.

Brian Browne, assistant vice president of government relations and director of St. John’s Manhattan campus, said veterans from throughout the country, not just New York, could be eligible to attend St. John’s.

“We encourage veterans to use this opportunity and consider St. John’s as a potential place to advance their education,” Browne said.

Veterans who served at least 36 months on active duty or served at least 30 continuous days before being discharged due to a service-related injury are eligible to apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Eligible individuals could receive payments for tuition and fees, housing and books and supplies.

Participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program has enabled St. John’s to launch Troops for Teachers, a federal program that assists military personnel who are transitioning into new careers as teachers.

The St. John’s initiative will begin this month and provide program participants with an opportunity for a fast-track entry into teaching through internship certification provided by the St. John’s Career Change Program.

The program allows individuals to earn a full-salaried teaching position within one year even if they are attending school part time.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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