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SFSC Designated Military Friendly College | News

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SFSC Designated Military Friendly College
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SFSC Designated Military Friendly College

AVON PARK, Florida-- For the third consecutive year, South Florida State College has been designated as a Military Friendly School, positioning the institution among the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools in the country for its veteran support services.

"Being military friendly means that our college has made the effort to go above and beyond in giving consideration to what is personally important to those who have served our country while also striving to provide good quality educational services," said Annie Alexander-Harvey, dean, SFSC student services.

Each year Victory Media, Inc. establishes the list of Military Friendly Schools, considering the results of research and a data-driven survey of more than 10,000 colleges, universities, and trade schools approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Being a United States Marine Corps veteran myself, I know that transitioning from the military to a college student can be overwhelming," said Robert Hampton, SFSC student services advisor. "My role as the veterans services advisor is to help veterans complete the documents that are required to embark on a new journey. I provide help with applying for veterans affairs benefits, requesting their military transcripts, applying to the college, and for financial aid."

"Once a veteran has been accepted into SFSC, I advise them on the steps they need to take so that they can achieve their goal," he said. "These steps can range from scheduling classes to arranging for a tutor. I have an open door policy, so any time a veteran needs speak with another veteran, I am there."

SFSC offers veterans affairs (VA) counseling for all programs and degrees. Veterans are able to sign up for courses the first day of registration regardless of how many hours they have earned. The Cashier's Office offers veterans a once-a-year deferment for tuition fees. The Cashier's Office grants veterans a 60-day deferment from the time classes start to pay their fees. This allows veterans to enroll into courses without having to pay up front.

As part of the college's outreach to veterans, SFSC participates in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education to individuals who have at least 90 days of aggregate service after Sept. 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.

Along with providing educational opportunities, the college also offers interactive tools to assist them with career planning and job placement efforts at the Career Development Center.

"The Career Development Center provides free access to the Kuder Journey Career Planning system to assist veterans with exploration of career-related interests, skills, and work values," said Colleen Rafatti, director of career development. "Using the Kuder Journey, one can also review extensive information about careers including wages and employment outlook and options for education and training. Other online databases, some specialized to the interests of veterans, are also offered."

The Career Development Center also provides free one-on-one career counseling, job placement assistance, job preparation assistance including resume development and mock interview practice, and access to computers, fax, and copying services to veterans.

The SFSC Testing Center is recognized as an "open" military friendly testing center by the United States Department of Defense which regulates most military educational assistance programs. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) lets students earn college credit for what they already know by earning qualifying scores on any of 33 introductory-level college subject examinations.

The exams are funded by the United States government through the Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support (DANTES). Through this program, eligible DANTES-funded test takers attempting a test title for the first time will not only have their exam fee funded by DANTES, but the SFSC Testing Center will also waive their administrative fee for veterans and active military, with proper ID.

The college is committed to helping the military-affiliated students feel welcome on campus, to make sure they have access to the educational benefits to which they are entitled, and to make sure their college experience is rewarding and productive. To assist with any deployment and training issues, any military student called to active service can interrupt education and return without penalty.

"There are some special things in the works for our veterans in the near future," Hampton said. "During graduation, we are working on having our veterans wear a special chord to distinguish them as veterans."

Along with 28 other colleges in the Florida College System (FCS), SFSC signed on to a national initiative to promote veteran-friendly policies. The eight strategies in "Keys to Facilitating Veterans' Success on Campus" encourage colleges to implement policies that help veterans, active-duty service members, and their families achieve educational and training goals.

"It is certain that all of us at SFSC share a feeling of great pride in being a 'military friendly' institution of high quality," Alexander-Harvey said. "However, we are not newcomers in providing educational services to this student group as we have been a military service members and veterans opportunity college for more than a decade."

For more information about SFSC's veteran services, contact Hampton at 863-784-7128 or email robert.hampton@southflorida.edu.

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