ARLINGTON, Texas — A new University of Texas at Arlington program will use a $1.25 million federal grant to help prepare 135 military veterans from Tarrant and Dallas counties for college.
Veterans Upward Bound is a free, pre-college program for veterans with low incomes or who would be the first in their families to attend college.
The program will provide instruction and refresher courses on core subjects like math, laboratory science, foreign language and literature, and help veterans build the requisite skills needed to get accepted into college, university officials said.
"Our veterans have been out of school for a while and in the business of our country, so this will help them regain those basic skills and confidence they need," said Lisa Thompson, director of UT Arlington's TRIO pre-college programs.The five-year grant, announced last week by the university, will fund a program coordinator, adviser and staff to recruit veterans into the program, officials said. Course work will be available in classroom settings or online so that veterans can work on their own time.
The school is recruiting prospective students for the program, Thompson said. An estimated 226,000 veterans live in Dallas and Tarrant counties
The UT Arlington program was one of 51 nationwide to received federal support, according to the university.
The program was developed because the lack of pre-college courses was identified as an obstacle to veterans obtaining college diplomas, she said. Applicants are screened and assessed to determine whether they are eligible or what skills they are lacking.
Applicants must show "academic potential," as well as an academic need, she said.
How long veterans are in the program will depend on those needs.
"It's individually based," Thompson said. "It may take them three years, and it could be three months."
Veterans in the program also will receive mentoring and guidance on scholarships, grants and federal assistance for college. School officials said they hope the program will be running by January.
Cliff Garinn, coordinator of career services at the university's career center and a military veteran, said the program should help veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan make the often-difficult transition from their highly structured military lives into college culture.
Garinn serves on the university's Student Veteran Advisory Committee, which reaches out to veteran students on a "social and interpersonal level," he said.
"It takes a multipronged approach to help a veteran transition into what we take for granted," Garinn said.
"Some of them have been in Afghanistan, getting shot at or blown up and have seen their buddies blown up. Now they might be in a classroom with people on their I-phones."
Although the pre-college courses will be held on the UT Arlington campus, participants can then go to college anywhere.
"Of course, we hope they like what they see and decide to come to school here," Garinn said.