Robert Morris Reaches First Top 10 Ranking in Military Friendly Status


Nathan Breisinger

Image of Robert Morris University’s Jefferson Center

Nathan Breisinger

After two consecutive years of reaching the Military Friendly Gold status, Robert Morris achieved its first top 10 entry in the 2023-24 rankings. RMU finished seventh in the Military Friendly doctoral-granting universities’ rankings.

The Military Friendly classification ranks participating schools through a survey that looks at six categories of military friendliness: “academic policies and compliance,” “admissions and orientation,” “culture and commitment,” “financial aid and assistance,” “graduation and career” along with “military student support and retention.”

“It demonstrates the effort of the entire university,” Director of the Robert Morris Center for Veterans and Military Families, David Ausman, said. “It is wonderful to see that the entire campus is truly that military-friendly, positive attitude.”

Robert Morris saw passing marks in every criteria after surpassing the standard by at least 50 percent, however, the university saw an exceptional rating in the “financial aid and assistance” benchmark, reaching 100 percent in that category.

“To actually maintain your rating probably means you got better because if you stay stagnant and only offer the same services, eventually your rating will start going down,” Ausman said. “By moving up to the top 10 demonstrates we actually went above and beyond what we were doing here before.”

Financial aid and assistance was a priority for the university to help all students with their benefits. Robert Morris expanded its Post-9/11 GI Bill coverage to help all undergraduate veterans, service members, and spouses or dependents.

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill has levels,” Ausman said. “Starting out at 50 percent benefits then moving up to 100 percent benefits depending on the amount of time you have on active duty. The challenge is, nearly all of the units in Pennsylvania are guard or reserve, so they have a hard time hitting that 100 percent active duty level. So what we started two years ago is any student who hits that 50 percent level can get their bachelor’s degree for free here at Robert Morris. That really is life-changing for those at the surrounding bases.”

Another key program that Ausman and Robert Morris have focused on is transition assistance for service members and veterans who are making the jump from the military back to civilian life.

“Essentially, only one percent of the United States population serves, so 99 percent of everyone out there has no idea what you did or what you are talking about,” Ausman said “When you are on base, everyone around you looks like you, talks like you and acts like you and then suddenly no one looks like you, talks like you and acts like you, so it can definitely be a challenge to reintegrate back into society.”

In order to help those former and current military members, Robert Morris utilizes its Center for Veterans and Military Families. The facility is located in the Jefferson Center and offers a computer lab, quiet study area, lounge space, training and conference rooms along with faculty offices to provide support for those individuals.

“We offer a lot of transition assistance programming,” Ausman said. “We work with dozens of fantastic veteran service organizations locally. We pull in professionals to help them through mental health, healthcare, financial assistance and other needs. Then, they can focus on their academics to be academically successful and then work on career obtainment.”

While Robert Morris is home to countless guard and reserve students, the university wants to offer those military members the opportunity to maintain their schooling even if they are called into action. That also includes spouses and military children.

“We realize if the service member deploys, maybe the spouse or the child is coming here to RMU. That may cause such a hardship that they are just not going to be academically successful, so we allow them to step out if they were the service member and then come back in easily,” Ausman said.

With the university continuing to garner recognition for its veterans and military services, the school will look to continue to grow and develop its programs. One area Ausman and the university is looking into is the overall financial coverage for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

“Sometimes they get three-year scholarships and they have to pay out of pocket for their first year,” Ausman noted. “Those are our future military leaders. Hopefully, they have a positive experience that they come back for their master’s or doctorate degree.”

Additionally, the Center for Veterans and Military Families has an opening for a Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare position in the office. Robert Morris is one of four schools in Pennsylvania that has an opening for a VA counselor. The position would help address military students who may be dealing with mental health issues, PTSD, how to destress before finals and relieve anxiety.