Last week we announced that veterans were no longer allowed to use their earned educational entitlements (e.g. the GI BillⓇ) at NSS. We also pointed out that there were nine veterans already accepted to NSS who were expecting to join a class starting between September 7 and October 2 who were left in the cold by the VA’s decision. We at NSS committed to do everything we could to help these veterans get the training they applied for. Today’s post is to update you on the status of those nine veterans, as well as a few others who had applied to future NSS classes but had not yet been accepted.
First, I have to admit that there were really ten, not nine, veterans already admitted to a class - in addition to the nine new admittees, we had a tenth that was restarting the full-time web development bootcamp. We have worked with each of these ten students to try to find a way to allow them to still attend class at NSS and start on the date they had planned. At this point, it appears that seven of the ten students will still be attending NSS as scheduled, and that three are either not attending or are delaying their attendance.
In each case, we had to address two challenges: a) the student’s tuition, which was no longer going to be paid using their entitlement, and b) their cost-of-living allowance (i.e. known as a housing allowance) which for a full-time student living in the Nashville area is about $2000/month (less for a part-time student). Many veterans, in particular our full-time students, count on the housing allowance to support themselves, and in many cases their family. Even if they get free tuition, they have to have some way to pay rent, buy food, and for other living expenses.
We have a great deal of flexibility in dealing with tuition expenses, but NSS simply does not have the financial resources to allocate something on the order of $107,000 towards living expenses for these ten students, especially since the VA’s decision cost us around $109,000 in tuition revenue. We fully expected that living expenses would be the hardest issue, and it has proved to be so. BUT, something unexpected is happening. A number of NSS graduates who are also veterans have expressed a desire to help their fellow veterans. We’ve had offers of donations towards the cost of living stipends and suggestions that we set up a fund to help support veterans attending NSS. We’re working on this and plan to post another update later this week on how the NSS community can donate to help these veterans.
As for tuition - for each of the ten veterans, and depending on financial need, we offered either a) a modified version of our Opportunity Tuition with the deposit turned into a scholarship and added to the normal scholarship amount and the remainder deferred until the graduate is working in tech or b) fully paid tuition. Our goal was to remove the need to pay anything to the school before graduation so the student could use any available financial resources to cover the cost of living during class. All seven veterans attending received one of those two options - the three veterans who were not able to attend on schedule due to losing their cost-of-living support have the ability anytime in the next twelve months to get the same deal from NSS.
We did also have a handful of applicants for future cohorts, starting with C53 in November, where admissions decisions have not yet been made. We’re now reaching out to these applicants to determine if there’s still any way for us to help them even though they cannot use their veterans educational entitlement at NSS. We’ll see how that turns out.