Military students, veterans find welcoming approach, affordability at DSU

March 5, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Dakota State University 

His service in the Marine Corps took Keinen Bousquet to Okinawa, Japan, and Pohang, South Korea, before the dream of becoming a software developer took hold.

Once that happened, choosing a university that met his educational needs was essential.

He found it at Dakota State University.

“The vast amount of opportunities that DSU offers veterans is comforting. It’s nice to know they care about our veterans’ education,” Bousquet said.

For student-veterans like Bousquet, DSU offers a welcoming campus and military-related programs at an affordable price tag.

“DSU is a very military-friendly and oriented campus. We offer programs that are appealing to veterans, with an affordable tuition,” said Austin Slaughter, veteran affairs coordinator.

Slaughter is a member of the South Dakota Army National Guard in addition to his job at DSU. He works closely with military students and families to help determine their financial options.

“South Dakota National Guard soldiers who maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher and are in good standing with their unit can qualify for tuition assistance. Students can also use military training as potential credits towards the degree of choice,” Slaughter said.

State tuition assistance provides National Guard students with a 50 percent reduction in tuition. Federal tuition assistance will pay $250 per credit hour toward tuition, with a limit of 16 credits per year. DSU offers a reduced online military rate for all active-duty students of $250 per credit hour with correct and necessary documentation. Parents who served in the military may be eligible to transfer benefits to their children through an opportunity known as the GI Bill.

Like Bousquet, Briana Grage has personally encountered these benefits. Grage, an Air National Guard ammunition specialist and DSU senior, is studying marketing and business technology, with dreams of becoming a marketing specialist.

“Dakota State is very supportive of all military branches,” she said. “I have obtained a great education and enjoy working with DSU’s veteran affairs office. Austin is an amazing help when it comes to understanding my military benefits.”

Reduced tuition isn’t the only reason these students and other veterans are drawn to the growing university. DSU has been designated as a military-friendly school since 2012, and Military Times has named Dakota State as one of the best colleges in the nation for military members or veterans.

Dakota State’s programs are a top contender for prospective military students because they strongly correlate with military careers:

  • Business technology
  • Computer information systems
  • Computer science
  • Cyber leadership and intelligence
  • Cyber operations
  • Elementary education
  • Marketing
  • Network and security administration
  • Professional accountancy

In fact, DSU’s technology programs are recognized by the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cryptologic School and branches of the military.

“DSU has a very exciting future ahead of it in regard to national recognition from the NSA and other large organizations,” Bousquet said. “DSU is continuously proving itself to be a leader in computer and cyber sciences. I feel fortunate to be a part of the process.”

 Along the way, DSU accommodates military students who may miss classes because of training.

“Our professors care about their students and understand they may have military obligations, but it’s important to keep the line of communication open,” Slaughter said. “If a student knows they’re going to be gone or unable to access internet due to training, they should let their professor know, be proactive and stay ahead of the coursework rather than try to catch up when they come back. It can be hard though; sometimes students may not get notified until the last second.”

Like training, notification of deployment also can be at the last second. DSU has a plan for that as well.

“We understand that our students can be called to serve their country throughout the school year,” Slaughter said. “Depending on the point of time during the semester, there are policies that we can follow to determine what is best for a student. If a student completes a certain course percentage, they can take their grade as is or completely withdraw from DSU.”

Most of the time, the program a student is enrolled in is put into hiatus and waits for the student to return.

“Doing this can help put the soldier a little more at ease,” he said. “They let us know when they’re ready to start back up, we connect them with their adviser, reactivate their program catalog, and they’re good to go. It saves a lot of time.”

With this process, students will not have to reapply to DSU or change their program catalog unless their leave of absence is longer than a year.

Some students do take a longer leave of absence to readjust to normalcy. But just because they take that time off, it doesn’t mean they stop facing deployment stressors when returning to campus. Slaughter and director of student development Michelle Ruesink, who has military and counseling training, do their best to keep tabs on military students who may be struggling.

“If a student is struggling, we’ll reach out and let their professors know,” Slaughter said. “I also watch Starfish notifications and will personally contact the student if I see anything peculiar. I’ll ask them how they’re doing emotionally and help them determine if they need to withdraw from a class or be connected with a tutor.”

Aside from utilizing Slaughter and Ruesink for post-deployment assistance, students can join the Student Veterans of America Club on campus and connect with students like Grage and Bousquet, who is the club’s president.

Students also may visit the local Veterans Service Office or participate in a monthly coffee hour that DSU hosts with the Lake County Veterans Service officer.

“We bring in presenters from different military branches as well as speakers from the Suicide Prevention Program and the VA.  It’s a time for students and community members to come together and share stories,” Slaughter said. “It’s a time for camaraderie.”

For information on what DSU can offer military students, visit any of the following web pages:

Or contact DSU by calling 605-256-5815 or emailing

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Military students, veterans find welcoming approach, affordability at DSU

“The vast amount of opportunities that DSU offers veterans is comforting. It’s nice to know they care about our veterans’ education.” We think you’ll be impressed by everything DSU does to help military students succeed.

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