Northern Illinois University, which just this month opened a new one-stop services office for veterans, has been named among the top military friendly schools in the country.
For the second consecutive year, G.I. Jobs magazine editors placed NIU on its list of colleges that provide extensive services and support to veterans and students currently in the military.
G.I. Jobs is a national monthly magazine that publicizes jobs and education opportunities for veterans and people still in the military. Of the 8,000 colleges considered nationwide, NIU was among 1,120 institutions to receive the honor, said Dan Fazio, the magazine’s managing editor.
NIU has demonstrated that it recognizes the unique needs of students who have served in the military or who are currently serving in the military, Fazio said.
“We sent out surveys and carefully analyzed the results,” Fazio said. “Northern Illinois University is among the friendliest as far as the services to students connected to the military. We weighed the services schools offer to veterans, things like veterans clubs, military discounts, and staff devoted to helping veterans.”
The magazine also considers availability of scholarships, class schedule flexibility and the different levels of degrees offered at the school.
NIU’s new Military Student Services is a good example of the university’s commitment to veterans and their classmates who are still in the military.
Located in Room B-111 of Gilbert Hall, the office provides those students with a one-stop place to go with questions on available services and programs, said Kelly Wesener, NIU assistant vice president for student services.
“We provide services such as academic support, mental health assessment and individual advocacy,” Wesener said. “We opened this office after recognizing more and more veterans are returning to college campuses. NIU is committed to ensuring their needs are met so they can reach their academic goals.”
About 700 veterans receive military educational benefits and approximately 800 veterans attend NIU.
The new office is being applauded by veterans and student soldiers of all ranks and ages, said Jose Alferez, president of the NIU Veterans Club.
“We have veterans on campus who served in the Gulf War,” he said. “Many have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them don’t know where to go when they have questions about benefits or if they have problems with their classes. This will certainly help.”
NIU has a long-standing reputation of supporting veterans and students in the military, Alferez said.
“We’re proud of the services we offer our students,” said Scott Peska, director of NIU’s Military Student Services.
“With the new office, we’ll have an opportunity to better coordinate our services and meet the unique needs of veterans,” he added. “For example, for students who are in the military and are deployed in the middle of a semester, we’ll help them work with their instructors and navigate the withdrawal procedure and re-entry process so they won’t lose progress toward earning an NIU degree.”
Currently, veteran financial aid benefits are still being processed in Room 245K of Swen Parson Hall and that operation will join Military Student Services in Gilbert Hall later this semester.
The hours of the Military Student Services office are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is (815) 753-0691.
by Gerard Dziuba