Note to Reporters: Photos are available with the news release at news.colostate.edu.
Although government financial aid to military veterans covers the lion’s share of the cost of higher education, a new scholarship at Colorado State University will help close the gap between the GI Tuition Assistance Bill and the real cost of attending school.
RE/MAX founders Dave and Gail Liniger recently donated $2 million to establish the Liniger Honor, Service and Commitment Scholarship so student-veterans who have served in combat can continue their education. To date, more than 170 student-veterans have applied for the scholarship, 90 of which did so within the first 24 hours of the application period opening, indicating a true need.
Drew Waldbauer, a master’s student, is just one of the student-veterans receiving the award. He says the scholarship will take a huge financial burden off his shoulders while he completes his degree in social work.
“It’s pretty rare to see individuals or families who will go above and beyond just saying ‘I support the troops,’ and will actually do something to support them,” said Waldbauer. “This gift from the Linigers is incredible, and we are so grateful. The Liniger scholarship will provide me with the ability to make it through my last semester as well as have financial stability transitioning from school to work.”
A soldier in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Waldbauer enrolled in CSU’s master’s of social work program in 2012 after researching numerous schools across the nation.
“Not only was the program one of the better social work programs, but I also got a really good sense of how much CSU appreciates veterans,” he said.
Waldbauer, who also works in the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office as the veterans success coach, says that for many student-veterans, finances can be a major stressor. Often, student-veterans are juggling school, work, and families, and this scholarship will help alleviate some of their stress by covering the cost of books and other expenses, ultimately allowing the student to focus on their classes and finals.
Working to support other veterans
Following commencement in May, Waldbauer wants to work in a role that supports veterans, helping them succeed in their transition from military to civilian life. His desire to do so, he says, stems from his experience in the military and the loss of several fellow soldiers in his unit.
One soldier, a lieutenant, was killed early on in Waldbauer’s deployment.
“He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure others can survive,” he recalls. “He was the poster-boy for honor, and just encompassed everything there was about doing the right thing. He never had a bad thing to say.”
Waldbauer credits his motivation, accomplishments, and commitment to those lost in his unit.
“I try to carry on their legacy,” he says. “I remind myself that my accomplishments are partly theirs because they inspire me to make them.”
Giving back to veterans
The Liniger Honor, Service and Commitment Scholarship serves full- or part-time undergraduates and graduate students who have participated in combat operations and have been awarded a campaign medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, a service combat medal or a Purple Heart.
“The Liniger Honor, Service and Commitment Scholarship will immediately and personally impact 200 of CSU’s courageous and outstanding student-veterans,” said Brett Anderson, vice president for University Advancement. “We could not be more grateful to Gail and Dave Liniger for their contribution to honoring this important segment of our campus community.”
Dave Liniger revolutionized the real estate industry by creating the RE/MAX business model with his wife, Gail. He is respected internationally for his knowledge of the real estate industry and influence on housing policy. Gail has been recognized as one of the top 10 U.S. women for her outstanding achievement in business, the arts, and public service. Together, the Lingers have been known for their philanthropic efforts since the early days of RE/MAX; creation of the Liniger Honor, Service and Commitment Scholarship stems from their commitment to those who have served, as Dave did in Vietnam.
“This gift reduces the financial stress for numerous CSU student-veterans, providing for those expenses beyond what their educational benefits cover,” said Jenny Pickett, director of Adult Learner and Veteran Services. “Ultimately, these scholarships will allow many of our veterans to be successful at CSU and better prepare them to rejoin the workforce following graduation. We are extremely grateful to the Linigers for this generous gift.”
Committed to veterans
“Colorado State has committed to serving those who have served by providing opportunity for an outstanding education, and our university benefits from the experience, determination, and outstanding scholarship student-veterans bring to our classroom,” said CSU President Tony Frank.
In addition to the Liniger Honor, Service and Commitment Scholarship, veterans at CSU have many services and benefits available. Recently named a GI Jobs Military Friendly School for the fifth year in a row, CSU is at the forefront of universities nationwide in its support for student-veterans. Resources such as the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office provide programs and services designed to help student-veterans succeed at CSU. The Veterans Educational Benefits Office and the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program aim to make higher education more affordable for student-veterans, while the New Start Program provides individualized services and support for student veterans who have sustained life-altering injuries while in the military.