Returning Hero Act

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Missouri’s tuition assistance option for veterans 

Archived Photo

Archived Photo

Staff Writer

The Montgomery GI Bill is not the only tuition assistance for Missouri veterans. Michael B. Cundiff is the Admissions and Registration Manager at STLCC-Meramec and informing veterans of what tuition assistance is available to them is part of what he does.

Cundiff said there is something unique to the state of Missouri called the Returning Hero Act (RHA), though he acknowledges that some Missouri veterans may have never heard of, or know what the RHA is, as it is not a universal option for vets like the GI Bill.

“I think that the reason some veterans may not know about it is because when they are going through their separation, and transitioning out of the service and into their civilian life and school, they may not hear about it because it is not part of the Montgomery GI Bill,” Cundiff said.

Cundiff explained that military exit training does not necessarily make veterans aware of the RHA because of its unique nature.

“The RHA is unique to the state of Missouri in that the state, through legislation has said, ‘let’s have some sort of reward for people that were deployed or have certain types of medals that are now going to school,’” Cundiff said. “This information wouldn’t necessarily be part of any military exit strategy since the RHA is Missouri legislation. Other states may have something similar, but this one is for the state of Missouri.”

The RHA is another tuition assistance option for veterans and Cundiff explained the structure of the RHA and what the benefit entails.

“Returning Heroes is a state program where if vets meet certain criteria, they are able to get 50-dollar credit hours,” Cundiff said.

Cundiff said that the RHA applies to all Missouri post-secondary, public institutions.

“The RHA includes all community colleges, the University of Missouri, the regional four-year schools, such as Truman, Missouri State and Central Missouri,” Cundiff said.

Cundiff said that the criteria needed to be met in order to receive the RHA benefit is based off of the veteran’s state of record among other things.

“Missouri needs to be your state of record when you enter in. You need to have been honorably discharged and you need to have any series of citations or medals,” Cundiff said. “The one we most frequently use is the Global War on Terror medal. Another criterion to be eligible for the RHA is that students keep a 2.5 or higher GPA.”

Cundiff also acknowledged the amount of time a Missouri veteran has to use the RHA.

“There is no time limit associated with the RHA as long as you meet the criteria,” Cundiff said.

Cundiff said one way that veterans can stay informed on options specific to them is through something that Meramec does called “Veteran’s Day (VA) Days,” which are specifically designed to keep vets up to speed with what sorts of benefits they qualify for.

“We have VA Days every other day, if not every day and students will come in individually or in groups of three to four, up to six,” Cundiff said. “We go through the benefits that they are eligible for, such as the RHA. We have the time-slots set up during multiple times, and we go through the classification of veteran tuition benefits.”

Cundiff said that considering the unique set of circumstances for veterans, he wants to make sure that every vet can be informed of their options and who can help them with their questions.

“We are here to help any way we can,” Cundiff said. “There is also a Veterans Club on campus and they can be very helpful with informing veterans of their options and sending them to us.”


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