When James Shamlee entered the U.S. Army, he was motivated by one major goal: to get an education. He knew the military’s education benefits could bring a degree within his reach. Now, after 26 years of Army service, military retirement and two degrees, Shamlee helps other service members pursue higher education as the military services and distance learning testing manager for The University of Alabama Online.
“I just didn’t want to get out of the military without having a degree. I think having a degree makes a positive impact on the outside. Once you get out to where employers will hire you, you have a better chance to get a better job,” Shamlee said.
As a veteran, Shamlee understands the needs of military students and works to support them toward graduation. He counsels service members on their course load and helps them make proctored testing arrangements. “I want to be with that service member from start to finish and be able to help them along the way until I see them walk across that stage at commencement. That’s what I want to see,” Shamlee said.
To continue to make higher education more accessible to service members, Shamlee’s team at UA Online, part of UA’s College of Continuing Studies, recently launched a new grant to help cover tuition costs after military tuition assistance benefits have been applied. The grant is open to active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve service members enrolled in UA Online’s undergraduate distance learning programs.
The UA Online Military Tuition Grant is designed to help remove financial barriers for service members looking to earn their bachelor’s degree, Shamlee said. “It helps to defray the cost of what they have to do to continue their education.”
The new grant covers tuition costs not paid by military tuition assistance up to the maximum allowed by the student’s service branch for 6 credit hours each term (fall, spring and summer) and up to 18 credit hours per academic year.
Robert Hayes, interim dean for the College of Continuing Studies, said the College is committed to helping service members through accessible, affordable and flexible educational programs.
“By reducing the financial obstacles and resolving the limitations presented by in-residence academic programs, CCS is able to remove many of the challenges that cost and location present for our military community,” Hayes said. “Our College has been in the business of delivering dreams by distance for more than 100 years, and I am honored to see us initiate this exciting incentive for our military service members.”
The University of Alabama Online offers more than 15 bachelor’s degree programs in flexible online and hybrid formats so that service members can earn their undergraduate degree from wherever they are.