SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Earl Crouchley is a student at Sacramento State. Without the help of the school's on-campus Veterans Success Center, he said his life would be much harder.

"[Navigating college] would be like walking through a dark room trying to find the door," Crouchley said. "Navigating the college system is a skill on its own. Even with the resources, it would take a semester or two to get grounded."

Sacramento State's veterans' resource center offers students space where they could hang out with those who have similar life experiences. Mario Garza, the Veterans Success Center program coordinator, said the center provides academic advice, among other available help to veterans, such as processing a veterans' GI Bill.

The GI Bill helps veterans and dependents pay for their college costs.

Veterans who served after 9/11 would have their tuition fee waived, which would cost for a full-time student $2,871. Students would also qualify for a monthly stipend.

The amount that the federal government gives a student depends on in which zip code they live. Sacramento State students, for example, receive about $2,200 a month, Garza said.

Dependents also get a stipend as well, but their fees are paid for by the federal government. The state covers the tuition fees for dependents.

The catch is students have to pay for student services themselves because each campus charges a different fee, Garza said.

Students have to go to a veteran counselor to have the courses approved to receive GI benefits.

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"I would not let [students] take courses they do not need," Garza said. "They might be a computer engineer but they want to take an upper-division chemistry course. We want to make sure to keep students on track to make sure students are graduating on time."

Crouchley said he found an application for "4 Paws 2 Freedom" in the resource center. The organization helps veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be able to apply for a service dog. This is how Crouchley met Driver, his golden retriever.

[Driver] is a blessing to us all," Crouchley said.

Visit Sacramento State's Veterans Success Center website for more information about the center.

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