Times Union Features Service to School

WASHINGTON — Chelsea Russ’ search for an undergraduate college during her transition from serving as an electronics technician in the Navy to the reserves in 2016 included researching university websites, making long lists of options and visiting 20 schools. She had always dreamed of going to Cornell, but thought the Ivy League school was out of reach.

Russ realized her dream after she was connected to a mentor by Service to School, a nonprofit that connects veterans to top universities. The mentor helped her navigate the complex admission process and kept her motivated.

Now a Cornell undergraduate, Russ is one of the 950,000 veterans who used the GI Bill for their education in 2018. Out of that, only 582 veterans are in undergraduate programs at eight Ivy League schools, which together enroll more than 6,000 students on an average in their undergraduate class annually. That means veterans comprise less than 1 percent of the total undergraduate population in those eight schools, ranging from 12 at Princeton University to eight at Harvard in 2018.

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