STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's tradition of serving veterans is receiving national recognition again, this time by U.S. News & World Report in its first-ever listing of veteran-friendly institutions.
Established with the U.S. Military Academy as an operating model in 1878, the land-grant university is ranked 29th on the magazine's elite list of the 52 best national higher education schools for veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.
MSU was recognized for its high VSDS graduation rate, available faculty resources and other markers of academic quality.
"We're excited about being in the top tier of the rankings," said Ken McRae, director of MSU's G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans. "U.S. News & World Report's ranking just adds to MSU's reputation of being veteran-friendly.
"We always have had the support of the administration, faculty and staff, and that's one of the things that makes MSU so good for veterans," he continued. "We couldn't ask for a better relationship, and this ranking solidifies our prestige."
The Center for America's Veterans is a memorial to Montgomery, the late MSU alumnus, National Guard general and longtime U.S. House of Representatives member from Meridian who worked constantly on behalf of military veterans. In 1984, congressional legislation titled the "Montgomery G.I. Bill" recognized his efforts.
McRae, himself a retired U.S. Army colonel, emphasized MSU's strong relationships with the VSDS population -- approximately 2,000 enrolled during the 2013 fall semester -- create an atmosphere of academic and social success.
One requirement for the U.S. News rankings is membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, which offers academic credit for military training experience and reasonable transfer-of-course credit.
Also, ranked institutions of higher learning must participate in federal financial assistance programs for veterans. In addition to being certified to offer Post-9/11 GI-Bill benefits to support VSDS students' education costs, MSU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows additional funding for education without charging GI Bill entitlements.
U.S. News collected data about veterans' benefits as part of its spring 2013 survey of undergraduate postsecondary schools. Schools not ranked in the 2013 Best College rankings were ineligible to be listed in the Best Colleges for Veterans rankings.
Mississippi State is ranked 142 overall in the national universities section of the magazine's Best Colleges report.
See http://veterans.msstate.edu for more information about the center, and for more about MSU, visit www.msstate.edu.