Military-connected students with members of UTA’s Office of Military and Veterans Services

For the second year in a row, The University of Texas at Arlington is the nation’s top four-year institution for veterans and their families, according to Military Times.

The Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2021 list recognized UTA for both its efforts to serve its military-connected students and the resources it offers them. UT Arlington also topped the annual list in 2020.

“UTA is committed to serving all of our students, and our active-duty, veteran, National Guard and Reserve students recognize this dedication to their success,” said Teik C. Lim, interim president. “We respect and honor their selfless service to our nation. They experience first-hand that UTA has a culture of ensuring our military-connected students are successful in their degrees, ready for the next stages of their careers, and have access to an array of services and support.”

Of UTA’s more than 4,800 military-connected students, just over 2,000 are veterans, on active duty or members of the National Guard or Reserve. Nearly 2,800 students are spouses or children of current or former military members.

Through UTA’s Office of Military and Veteran Services, such students have access to coordinated services across five core areas: transition, health, education benefits, engagement and career development. Among the organizations and programs are:

MavVets, a student veteran organization that provides campus networking with community leaders, access to scholarships and community service opportunities.
A veterans-dedicated education advisor.

Veterans Upward Bound, a program for qualified veterans designed to motivate and assist in developing skills necessary for acceptance and success in college. Services include refresher classes, weekly tutoring sessions, assistance with financial aid and college applications, academic and career counseling, personal counseling and peer-to-peer mentoring.

Veteran Orientation, a welcoming event designed specifically for students transitioning to UTA after military service.

James Kumm, executive director of military and veteran services, said the University has introduced a new peer-mentoring program called Veteran’s Edge. It pairs military-connected juniors and seniors with new-to-UTA students with military backgrounds to help them get involved and plugged into social opportunities and veteran services. The program is expanding to include staff and faculty as mentors, Kumm noted.

“We want to be the university of choice for veterans and their families,” he said. “When veterans walk into our office, we want to be able to help with anything they need.”

Kristine Witkowski, assistant director of financial aid, said she and her colleagues aim to help military-connected students navigate the benefits available to them, as well as any other issues.

“We’re a one-stop shop that makes a concerted effort to prioritize and treat all concerns and issues that a veteran may have,” Witkowski said. “We are in a unique position to help students in a way that gives them a leg up.”

That dedication and customer service was apparent to Derron Gadison, a retired Army veteran who is majoring in political science.

“UTA was the last school I applied to and the first school that I heard back from,” Gadison said.

Yasmine Soto, a criminal justice major and U.S. Navy veteran, said UTA personnel routinely provide military-connected students with support and services.

“I appreciated the fact that people were so willing to help,” Soto said. “That solidified my decision to come here.”

More than 300 schools participated in the latest Best for Vets: Colleges survey, which included more than 70 questions seeking details about the school’s costs, programs, policies and services that impact military-connected students. The publication also considered federal data from the U.S. Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs and Defense in its rankings.

In addition to the recognition from Military Times, UTA’s reputation as a top destination for veterans and their families has earned accolades from other organizations:

  • U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of Best Online Programs ranked the College of Education’s online master’s program as No. 16 in the country for veterans and its online master’s program in curriculum and instruction as No. 19.
  • The Military Order of the Purple Heart designated UTA as a Purple Heart University.
  • College Factual ranked UTA in the top 15% of U.S. colleges and universities for veteran friendliness, and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and School of Social Work as No. 3 in the nation for veteran friendliness. The ranking is based on educational outcomes to veterans, active-duty military students and their families.

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