Veterans at Brown

Brown Veterans, Brown Vets, Military at Brown University

Brown University does support our troops. But there is always more work that can be done (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

As a firm that commits much of our resources each and every year to helping veterans on a pro bono basis earn admission to highly selective American universities, we’ve got an opinion or two about which schools are friendliest to veterans of America’s military. And while we’ve praised certain institutions for looking out for our veterans (hi Dartmouth and Columbia), we’ve also been critical of others. Brown University is one university we’ve been rather critical of for their treatment of veterans and we had cause to be critical, as this piece details.

The program director of Brown University’s Office of Student Veterans, Karen McNeil, wrote in with a Comment to our critical post. Here’s a portion of what McNeil wrote: “This article seems very unfair to Brown University. Yes, it’s true we have a cap, but we have never denied a student Yellow Ribbon funds — whenever we come close to the cap we raise it. Just last year, the University increased the cap from 30 students to 50. As you noted, the $10,000 in Yellow Ribbon funding is similar to our peers, so a ‘D’ ratings seems extremely harsh. Especially considering that, due to our commitment to meet all students’ financial need, University scholarship generally covers what is not covered by the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funds, so the majority of our veteran students attend Brown for no money out of pocket.”

She went on, “Also, having worked closely with the Admission Office on veteran applications, I can tell you that veterans are not negatively impacted at all by applying for financial aid — I encourage all of our veteran applicants to apply for financial aid, even if they don’t think they need it. Most of our student veterans apply through the RUE (Resumed Undergraduate Education) program, which is a special application process for non-traditional students. (It is not a separate school, however, like Columbia’s GS or Harvard Extension — once they get in the RUEs are fully integrated with the traditional undergraduates.)”

Ivy Coach salutes Karen McNeil, the program director of Brown University’s Office of Student Veterans, for being an advocate for veterans on the Providence, Rhode Island campus.

Now we don’t agree with everything McNeil states. While it sounds really nice when she asserts that students, among them veterans, aren’t negatively impacted by applying for Financial Aid, regular readers of our college admissions blog know it’s simply not the case as need-blind admission is a myth of American higher education. McNeil so quickly agrees with our assertion that Brown has a cap on the number of veterans it admits under its “Yellow Ribbon Program,” but we hope our readers take some time to think about this. Our veterans should not be capped! That’s simply not right.

But we still do give Brown credit for some of their efforts in support of our American veterans. The university’s Resume Undergraduate Education Program (RUE) is, in many ways, similar to Columbia University’s School of General Studies. As delineated on Brown’s website, RUE’ is “a small, highly competitive program ideal for students who interrupted or delayed their formal education due to family commitments, financial concerns, health issues, military service, employment opportunities, or simply a compelling need to explore other paths.” Among the advantages of this program, students receive the same degree as do other Brown students, they have the same access to courses (3-4 per semester) and opportunities, they study under the same open curriculum, etc.

We at Ivy Coach applaud the work that Karen McNeil does in support of America’s veterans at Brown University. Each and every day she goes into work with the mission of making Brown more welcoming and more inclusive to the brave men and women who serve our nation in uniform. She is an advocate for America’s troops at Brown and we hope she continues to find success in the years ahead so the university devotes even more resources to our vets and becomes even more inclusive. Because there is always more work that can be done. So may this serve as a thank you to Karen McNeil not only for defending Brown’s commitment to the military to our readers but also for the noble work she does each and every day at one of America’s most elite and venerable institutions.


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