FRONT ROYAL, Va. — A Virginia-based Catholic liberal arts college is offering 100% scholarships for eligible students from military families, responding to recent legislation that limits students of non-government-funded institutions from receiving such benefits.
Attending Christendom “helps me articulate some of the situations and experiences I had in the Marine Corps,” said Philip McShurley, who had taken four years between his freshman and sophomore years to serve in the armed forces. “It’s also a great way of reflecting, and it’s really definitely deepened my faith.”
McShurley, a beneficiary of the new scholarship program, left Christendom after freshman year because he felt “restless” and “was looking for something to really challenge me.”
Although he had his pick of colleges, thanks to the GI Bill, McShurley realized that, after leaving the Corps, he wanted to return to Christendom, which would not have been an option were it not for the scholarship program.
“I felt like I had gotten my moral and spiritual challenge in the Marine Corps, and I was ready to build up after that,” McShurley said.
“In this day in age, it is great to see a college have strong support for the troops and have an interest in giving them true wisdom,” said Adam Rockwell, another beneficiary of the new scholarship program being offered by Christendom College, a Catholic liberal arts institution in Front Royal, Virginia.
“Giving these students this opportunity is creating a diverse environment at Christendom, inviting people from all different backgrounds to come and learn the teachings of Christ.”
Rockwell, whose family had served in the military from World War II to Vietnam, told the Register that he considers it an “honor” to have served the United States in the U.S Army Reserve as a motor transport operator in the Transportation Corps before his time at Christendom. “These brave men fought [through] some of America’s biggest wars, leaving a legacy and inspiring stories that have been passed down my family line,” he said.
Christendom College began offering the new scholarship after new government regulations, issued in summer 2021, limited benefits for military-affiliated students who attend educational institutions that do not receive government funding under Title IV.
As a consequence, “new government regulations were issued in the summer of 2021 requiring that any school that accepts GI Bill funds meet the requirements for and participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV,” according to a statement issued through the college website. “As a result, GI Bill funds are now likely to bring with them the same bureaucracy, government control, and entanglement as other federal funding.”
Prior to the 2021-2022 academic year, students could receive military benefits while attending Christendom through the GI Bill funds, as a benefit granted to individual veterans, even though the college rejects government funding.
“Military service members and their children have been deeply connected to the college since Day One, and we have greatly benefited from their influence and commitment to our faith and our beloved country,” said Mark Rohlena, executive vice president of Christendom College. The 2021 legislation caused a “tension” between the college’s commitment to not accept federal funding and their “commitment to our veterans,” Rohlena told the Register. “Christendom College has always rejected federal funding since the day we opened our doors as an important way of preserving our independence and the type of education we provide,” Rohlena explained. “We could not risk abandoning a bedrock principle of the college that has us rejecting federal funds each year for the real peril that we would be forced away from our mission, but we also knew that our veterans and their families could not be left out in the cold,” he said. “We are in the process of actively withdrawing from the system and have filed the necessary forms to do so,” said Zachary Smith, Christendom’s associate director of marketing and communications.