According to a report released this week, more than half of the veterans who got money for college under the GI Bill from 2002 through 2013 graduated—51.7 percent of student veterans earned their degree or certificate.
The study, which was conducted by the advocacy group Student Veterans of America (SVA), is the most comprehensive study to date— drawing on almost 800,000 college records. According to the AP, the goal was to understand how vets are performing under a GI Bill program that has spent nearly $35 billion since 2009.
This success rate of almost half comes as a surprise to many and contradicts stories and reports that many more of these veterans are dropping out.
Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, tells USA Today, “I’ve heard it over the last few years about the disaster of these students. That it’s terrible, (that) they’re just flunking at huge rates. That’s not right.”
SVA president D. Wayne Robinson tells the AP, “Americans have invested substantial dollars in giving our veterans an opportunity to further their education and this report shows many positive signs that they are doing just that. The majority of student veterans accessing their GI Bill benefits are completing degrees and showing unparalleled determination to do so, despite many unique barriers.”
And there are many challenges student veterans face, including having service-related disabilities, and earning their degree while juggling jobs and families.
Veterans and Higher Education
Here on Apsire, we’ve delved into the important subject of how universities can support military students and veterans. Today, there are more current and former military members looking to get higher education degrees and prepare themselves for a job market that often doesn’t know how to take advantage of their unique skill sets.
The importance of supporting veterans is clear. The AP flags a part of the report that points out that degrees can help them get careers in the most in-demand fields: social sciences, homeland security, law enforcement and firefighting, and computer and information sciences.
Check out this great story about Navy pilot Tomas Saenz, who got a master’s degree in engineering while he was at war in Afghanistan. And read about Northeastern’s Yellow Ribbon Program partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs.