Service members may qualify for educational program

26 Aug 2009 | Sgt. T.D. Smith

Some service members see their service as a career-long endeavor and often give decades of their working lives to the military.

Others develop valuable leadership skills and transition into civilian life.

Both are options, and now North Carolina universities are offering state residents leaving active service a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Military veterans can receive guaranteed admission into a state university through a program offered by Marine Corps Installations East.

The Elite to Elite program offers qualified service members an opportunity to obtain one of the North Carolina Universities’ slots specifically allocated for military veterans.

This allows them to gain entrance into a prestigious school without competing against those seeking general admittance.

MCIEAST and Marine Corps Community Services educational officials conduct a board vetting end-of-active-service members, who are tax paying residents of North Carolina.

They make a recommendation to the commanding general of MCIEAST, who determines who will receive the limited number of guaranteed admissions to state universities.

“This is to reward some warriors after they have honorably served,” said David Schock, the regional school liaison with MCIEAST. “This program is especially helpful to the young Marine or sailor who may not have been able to get into these prominent schools four or five years ago. We can get them into these schools and that’s something they may not be able to do on their own.”

This is the second year MCIEAST has offered the program to military members. The program currently has seven campuses participating and hopes to increase to 16 this year. The growing cooperation and interest of local higher educational institutions will help expand this program in the future.

“North Carolina state universities want service members,” said Schock. “You name the school and they are looking for military veterans.”

This program, featuring the best state schools, may be available only to North Carolina residents, but isn’t limited to those stationed aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

It’s available to those stationed anywhere in the world.

While the opportunity for quality education is an obvious benefit, there are other advantages to the program as well. It proves to have a lasting affect on the local area even after the student has graduated.

“If a good military leader, who is from North Carolina, goes to school and stays in North Carolina, they will be great leaders for the community,” said Bob Songer, the head of the Life Long Learning Center with the Marine and Family Services Division of Marine Corps Community Services. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Anyone wishing to take advantage of this program should submit an application to the Life Long Learning Center by Feb. 1, 2010.

The application must include one sealed envelope of an official transcript and one unofficial transcript from a high school and college (if follow-on education applies).

Editor’s note: For more information on the application process, call the Life Long Learning center at (910) 451-5575. Participating schools include University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of North Carolina, Eastern Carolina University, North Carolina A&T State University, Fayetteville State University, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of North Carolina Pembroke, Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina Ashville, Winston-Salem State University, Elizabeth City State University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.