The Veterans Upward Bound headquartered at Davis & Elkins College is dedicated to helping those who have served the country take advantage of the educational opportunities avaliable to them.
"We have academic advisors located in many of the population centers in West Virginia eager to help veterans that want to further their education," Project Coordinator Steve Belan said. "Veterans throughout West Virginia receive services from our program, which has been headquartered at Davis & Elkins College since 1990."
He said by serving the country, veterans have earned the right to take advantage of the free program and the best time for veterans to further their education is right after they have finished their service. "All veterans, including those whose GI Benefits have expired, can take advantage of our program to prepare for success at the college level," Belan said. "The importance of having some type of post-secondary education can't be over estimated in today's job market."
The program is geared to help veterans be successful through their higher education. All the services are provided at no cost and will help with the stress and confusion of going to college the first time.
Veterans who take part in the program can go to school anywhere and some participants do go to D&E College
"In addition to having participants enrolled at D&E, we have enrolled veterans in several colleges, universities and technical schools throughout West Virginia and other states," he said. "We help veterans through the financial aid application process, the college admissions process, and help veterans understand how to make use of their GI Benefits."
In addition, Veterans Upward Bound offers free refresher courses to veterans at several locations throughout West Virginia. These courses focus on English, math, science, foreign language and computer skills. The classes are designed to prepare veterans for classes at institutions of higher education, including colleges and technical schools.
Belan said that veterans who decide to take part in the refresher courses have to take a pre-test and post-test that helps them gauge their progress in the course. He said the tests have no bearing on college admittance or standing with the program.
Veterans will have to develop an educational plan to participate in the program. Veterans Upward Bound staff will sit down with the veteran and develop educational goals.
"Basically, we are mapping out how we can help the veteran to achieve those goals. Our participants typically need assistance with the college application and admission process," Belan said.
Veterans Upward Bound at D&E College is the only Veterans Upward Bound program in West Virginia. The program covers the whole state and has outreach locations in Charleston, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg and surrounding areas.
"We will assist every veteran who contacts us based on their needs," Belan said. "There is no maximum number that we can serve, so our doors are open to all West Virginia Veterans."
To be eligible for the program, a veteran must have served for more than 180 days of continuous active duty with at least a portion after Jan. 31, 1955, or have been discharged or released for a service connected disability after the same date. Those who have been dishonorably discharged are not eligible.
Veterans must also be a first-generation college student meaning that neither parent has a four-year baccalaureate degree or the veteran's Family Taxable Income must meet income guidelines established by the United States Department of Education.
Veterans Upward Bound is completely funded by a Title IV grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, call toll free at 1-800-624-3157 ext. 1257 or at 304-637-1257.