Awards will help veterans

By Christine Kim

The University’s College of Business and the state of Illinois will award a maximum of 110 scholarships to Illinois military veterans and active-duty military personnel pursuing an MBA degree. The scholarship will allow applicants to receive free tuition in either the full-time, part-time, or executive MBA program in the College of Business.

The scholarship, which so far has no name, was initiated in the fall of 2005, but because many students were not aware of the opportunity, only one or two veterans benefited from it.

“I think it is a wonderful opportunity not only for veterans but also for the college to have a tremendous amount of diversity and leadership represented in classes,” said Tracy McCabe, assistant dean for external and alumni affairs for the College of Business. “Those (who were) in the military brought lots of unique perspectives . and will help diversify MBA programs more greatly.”

Business student veterans receive approximately $10 million in scholarships and grants, McCabe said. There are 687 students total enrolled in the graduate program in the College of Business.

The new scholarship will pay the remaining balance of tuition after subtracting what the Illinois Veterans Grant, a veteran benefit program, provides. The Illinois Veterans Grant is a long-standing grant that provides a designated amount of money for a certain number of academic months.

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Robert Wood, veteran program administrator, said there are 420 veterans at the University who currently receive some type of federal benefit. As of the spring semester, 329 students received the Illinois Veterans Grant and 250 received the Illinois National Guard grant. Of those, some may overlap because students may be eligible for both benefits.

Tyler Morris, senior in LAS and 3rd range battalion veteran, benefited from both the Illinois Veterans Grant and the GI Bill, a federal benefit. The Illinois Veterans Grant pays for 100 percent of his tuition, and the GI Bill sends him a check every academic month to cover cost of living expenses. Although he is a senior, he still has one-and-a-half years left of tuition coverage that he can spend on graduate school for his anticipated political science degree.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Morris said about the benefits. “Coming here as an undergraduate, tuition is already paid for by the Veterans Grant, and if you have the opportunity to continue your education in graduate school free of charge, it’s a great deal.”

Eligible veterans for the new scholarship must meet the normal admission requirements for the three Business programs. Depending on the program, veterans may have to meet a certain academic performance level in the undergraduate curriculum. The number of years of experience, graduate school admissions test scores or other admissions criteria may also be required depending on the program.

The executive MBA program will be hosted at Chicago in the Illini Center, a University special-facility campus, while the full-time and part-time programs will be held in Urbana.

The three programs are similar in terms of management focus. However, the executive MBA program requires a minimum of eight years of experience and consists of 38 to 40 year olds with more senior level responsibility in firms. The full-time MBA program consists of students ages 26 to 28. Working students who need more flexibility can turn to the part-time program.

“I think (the scholarship) is great,” said Capt. Brian Maloney, MS-I instructor and battalion logistics officer. “I wish everything across the campus and nation will do something like that. It brings a level of maturity and a different perspective to education for the MBA program.”