Student veterans wade through bureaucracy to get back to school

St. Cloud, Minn. – Jesse McClure dropped out of St. Cloud State University after two unproductive semesters in 1998. He joined the Marines and ended up serving combat time in Iraq. Now he’s back at St. Cloud State, less than four semesters away from graduating with a degree in biomedical science.

“I’m now actually doing much better. I’m getting all A’s except for one B,” McClure said.

The Marines taught McClure about the world and himself and infused him with the focus he needed to stick it out in school. But when he started looking for schools that help veterans, he found Minnesota was behind many other states like Texas, California and Wisconsin.

“At the moment, St. Cloud State and MnSCU are not attractive to veterans,” McClure said. “St. Cloud state was not only not high on (my) list, but not on the list.”

McClure qualifies for the federal WW II era Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits. But because he was not a member of the Minnesota National Guard or Army Reserve, he is not eligible for state tuition reimbursements. In the end McClure chose St. Cloud because he couldn’t afford to pay out-of-state tuition. But then he encountered another problem: red tape. His federal benefits are generous, but it took more than a year of determined vigilance to sort them out.

“If it weren’t for my savings and having a family to bail me out at the last minute, I would have dropped out,” McClure said.

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