09:10 AM

UST Launches VETSTART Project: Receives $590,106 Grant from US Department of Education

University of St. Thomas-Houston's Veteran Services Program is the recipient of a three-year, $590,106 competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education FIPSE Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success program. 

The University will establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, VETSTART, as a single point of contact to coordinate comprehensive support services for veteran students. The project will increase success at the University level by coordinating services designed to address veteran students' academic, financial, physical, and social needs.

Dr. Trisha RuizMeet the Grant Team

  • Dr. Trisha Nicole Ruiz, UST's senior director of Veterans Services, will serve as the project director. 
  • To achieve the grant program goals and objectives, UST will add a project manager and part-time administrative assistant.
  • UST will establish a professional veteran student support team, which includes representatives from the Offices of Admissions, Registrar, Financial Aid & Scholarship Services, Veterans' Benefits, Academic Advising, Student Health, Career Services, and Access and Disabilities Services.

Specific Programming to Address Veteran Students’ Needs

"We are committed to ensuring UST is the premier university for our veterans by providing the necessary wrap-around services to ensure their success and graduation," Ruiz said. "Understanding the specific needs of veteran students is half the battle; creating specific programming to address those needs is fundamental to their academic success."

  • Veteran students will receive specialized coaching, in addition to refresher math and writing "catch-up" courses to increase academic success. 
  • VETSTART will feature wrap-around services, referrals, counseling, and other on- and off-campus support for veteran students.
  • VETSTART will permit UST to create new and expanded partnerships and collaborations with veteran-related service organizations in the greater Houston metropolitan area. 

UST VETSTART three-year program goals are to 1) increase veteran enrollment by 47%; 2) increase veteran retention rates to 85%, and 3) increase the graduate rates of veterans by 45%. An estimated 300 veteran students will receive services during the grant award period, and UST plants to institutionalize all VETSTART programs and services when funding ends.  

The University of St. Thomas-Houston is an independent, Catholic coeducational university founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.  UST is a Hispanic-serving institution designated by the Department of Education.