Veterans In Higher Education: America’s Smart Investment

SVExpEducation is one of the greatest investments a person can make in their lifetime. The pride and sense of accomplishment that comes from earning a degree stays with you as you move forward in your career and achieve new goals. For many of our military members and veterans, that achievement can take longer to come to fruition for a variety of reasons, often due to the nature of how today’s modern military operates. Most veterans are non-traditional students, and as such, they face certain challenges to degree-completion—they often put their education on hold for deployment, and are more likely to have family responsibilities that their traditional peers do not. What many wonder is, how are these veterans performing in higher education, and what are taxpayers actually getting for their investment in the GI Bill?

Having the resources to navigate many unique obstacles can make the critical difference when it comes to graduating. Student Veterans of America (SVA) is the voice for veterans pursuing postsecondary education, and we work to support the transition from warrior, to scholar, to leader. Since our founding in 2008, we have mobilized student veterans, policymakers, higher education institutions, and employers to create opportunities for student veterans. Through a variety of partnerships, leadership programs, and grant offerings, we prepare student veterans for success in higher education regardless of the level of education they seek.

Of student veterans who first completed a certificate, 31.3 percent continued on to higher levels of education; of those who first earned a two-year degree, 35.8 percent continued on; and 20.8 percent of veterans who first earned a baccalaureate-level degree went on to earn another degree at a higher level. As nontraditional students, veterans face unique challenges, and often follow different paths to completion.

It is clear, though, that veterans are persisting in their education, and graduating at levels comparable to the general population, and at rates far greater than other nontraditional students. Not only are they completing, but they’re pursuing high-demand degrees, making them highly attractive in today’s job market. Based on these findings, Americans can now see the value of their smart investment in student veterans.

Over time, we’ve demonstrated the value of investing in our student veterans by conducting rigorous and innovative research, such as our Million Records Project. This unprecedented effort examines a variety of factors that can impede and support student veteran degree completion and graduation rates. This work was envisioned, planned, and executed by SVA, and made possible through the support of several key partners. The outcomes achieved by the Million Records Project analyze the impact and success of various services and programs, and will help determine best practices and policies to promote student veteran success based on a data-driven approachMRP

The story of the Post-9/11 generation of student veterans is one of persistence, perseverance, and success.  We know that more research is needed if we are to promote more positive outcomes for student veterans. In our next phase of research, we look forward to working with VA and the National Student Clearinghouse to replicate this study, and exclusively focusing on Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries. In partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse, we’ll also be collecting direct feedback from schools to understand which programs and policies are working on campus.

We plan to correlate these findings to discover the true drivers of postsecondary success for student veterans.  SVA will then scale these effective services across our national network. Our insights will be useful not only for student veterans, but for nontraditional students as a whole.

This data snapshot also provides crucial insight into the achievement levels of student veterans and a national benchmark for student veteran graduation rates. Our research has shown that student veterans graduate at significantly higher rates than other nontraditional students, and they perform at a level comparable to traditional students. The information provided by our Million Records Project offers unprecedented insights, and highlights important follow-on research opportunities. Through our research, we’re enabling service providers, policymakers, institutions of higher education, and government agencies to make data-driven decisions about supporting student veterans. For more information about the million records project, or to learn how you can support veterans in higher education, visit our website at www.studentveterans.org.

robinson-bwfrPresident and CEO of Student Veterans of America, Robinson served in the U.S. Army and rose to the pinnacle of enlisted ranks as a Command Sergeant Major. During his career he held many leadership positions in Artillery, Special Operations, and Recruiting and graduated from every enlisted leadership course offered by the Army.

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18 Comments to “Veterans In Higher Education: America’s Smart Investment”

  1. i am a navy veteran who got the chance to go back to school through the vrap program
    at skagit valley community collage sorry to say but it was a tremendous battle to keep in line with vrap guide lines and just get the certificates and being forced to take degree classes and in the end did not get the class i needed to finish.

    • Samuel J.Dendauw says:

      I want to know if our V.A. reps. are here for us or here for themselves.I.E paychecks.I have been been enrolled in the Vrap program since spring 2013 working on getting certified in 1 year program for landscaping my 1st term I had to take prerequisite classes reading,writing, and math .summer term I was able to take 12 credits toward s my cert. and the fall term I got all 12 credits than this winter term I was only able to get 6 credits but they told me since this is my last term on Vrap I could fill the last 6 crredits with electives.The problem I have is I have to come up with funds so I can finish my certification which is 6 credits and I will find a way to do this just seems like my Reps would be helping me reach my goal and finish.I want that job,I know I could do a helluva lot more and care about following through.Not impressed and not the only vet here that feels that way here In Medford Or. Rogue cc.

    • Stuart Robertson says:

      It looks like my VRAP benefits end as of April 1, 2014. My schools program ends May 21. I may have to drop if the benefits aren’t extended.

  2. Matthew says:

    Post 911 GI Bill paid me good income monthly for my rent during college. But I attended Full Sail University and the GI Bill paid pennies for me schooling. I still had $80,000 student loan debt I was unaware of after my bachelors and masters degree.

    • Bill A. says:

      http://www.vetsback2college.com has a list of 24 schools that receive financial support from a Los Angeles area foundation to minimize or eliminate student loan debt. For those that are already enrolled this might be too little too late but, for those looking for a school you might consider one of these colleges.

  3. This is a Letter I sent To Mr.Coy Director of Veterans AffairsGood Afternoon, Mr. Coy

    My name is Tyrome Dalton, I am currently in School at ATC in Cocunet Grove, Fl. Too my amazement I just found out I will not receive the Lump Sum from VRAP from my enroollment at the school, that i have been enrolled since august. I just contacted VRAP today and the Rep informed me of this even thorough she seen that I have continuance enrollment since school started without any breaks or changes with my school it seems to me now I have to drop out of school with the course ending June 5, 2014. She also informed me that the school sent in an enrollment from june to aug of this year which i did receive a letter informing me of this and I have no knowledge of this since I know my course ends June 5, 2014. Can you please assist me in this matter as to avoid dropping out of school.

    Thank You
    Very Much
    Tyrome Dalton
    Can Someone Please Help Me

  4. Gere Hirsch says:

    I am an Air Force and Army National Guard veteran going back to school on the VRAP program. It was great until this semester. My Voc Rehab counselor will authorize payment for the first semester of the two semester thesis, but not the second semester. It is the last requirement to graduate. If I want to graduate, I have to pay for the last semester. The Voc Rehab counselor says there is money in the account, but she won’t authorize payment of a second semester for a thesis, even though the school requires it. That is not what I consider supporting completion or success.

  5. Everett Garcia says:

    I would have completed but even though I attended 16 credit hours each semester last year the VRAP DID NOT PAY FULLTIME BENEFITS LIKE PROMISED. I SOLD WHAT VALUBLES I HAD TO MAKE ENDS MEET. SOME MONTHS I AND OTHER VETS IN THE VRAP PROGRAM GOT LESS THEN HALF PAY. ONCE AGAIN THE VA SCREWED US. I TRIED TO GET AN ANSWER BUT THEY PLAYED THE “PASS THE BUCK GAME”.

  6. Todd McCuistion says:

    I am very disappointed in the VRAP program. I was only in my 2nd quarter when I stopped receiving benefits because the program had ended. I had to drop out a few weeks ago because of this. What the fuck am I supposed to do now!!!

    I either want the VA to help me finish school, pay me a lump sum of what they would have paid me for 2 years of school, or I will seek legal action. If seeking legal action is not possible and I would be wasting my time, my only other option will be to commit suicide(And no I am not being funny).

    So someone better find a solution for me, and quickly!!

    Thank you for treating your Veteran’s like shit!!

  7. Greg, G.J. says:

    I am attending Community College of Allegheny County w/ 1.5 semesters to go for an Associate Degree in HLS and my VRAP is now exhausted. I will not go into debt via a student loan and I have been unemployed for so long that no one will hire me ( plus, I am 51 y.o.). I do not know what I am going to do… If only VRAP would cover the whole program.

  8. Victor Ruiz says:

    just finished a year at Bakersfield College where i was working on my AA in Construction technology under the VRAP program. However, congress let me down and ended funding so now after this semester I must give up my plans of a degree or even a certificate as the need for cash pushes me back to work. A real let down

  9. I would love to share this. thank you

  10. Rony Chapa says:

    I just started school 6 months ago and now the VRAP is gone how the hell are we as VETERANS suppose to finish school!!! They should be able to extend those that are still in school!! This is total CRAP!! What are we suppose to do now!

  11. Angel B. says:

    Wow. Are there any responses to all of these comments? As a veteran myself, I used MGIB and Post9/11 to gain some further education and so I can’t relate to VRAP and it’s offerings of support but 100% of the claims on this post are about poor service and what seems like a lack of true dedication and perhaps expertise to support my shipmates and fellow vets on such a large scale. I am empathetic and the only reason I decided to write a message was/is because I have not seen a response to any of these questions. We are having a difficult time out here, some of us. After not being able to find suitable employment for over five years and feeling like giving up I have been able to start a career at the VA Hospital and I am truly grateful. Not only am I thrilled to be in a place that is comfortable for my son and I but I enjoy the role I play in the satisfaction, much needed peace, and just sharing information with my Veteran brothers and sisters. We need organizations who say they will do something for us, to do it. Thanks.

    • Yvonne Levardi says:

      Hi Angel,
      We do reply when there’s a clear question and we can provide a clear answer. I do understand there is frustration with the process and the benefits. I used my GI Bill for my education too, while active-duty military – and agree it’s hard! I know VRAP is a fantastic program and many of our Veterans need that assistance. Unfortunately, VA has no control over when it ends – this was part of Congress’ Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, and the VRAP portion was extended last year.

      More information about VRAP can be found here and I’ve pasted in part of that information below.

      What is VRAP? As part of the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) was created to provide unemployed veterans between the ages of 35-60 up to a year of education or training for jobs in a high-demand fields. Under current law, VRAP is set to expire March 31, 2014.

      Can VRAP be extended? Yes, earlier this Congress H.R. 562, the VRAP Extension Act of 2013, introduced by Chairman Jeff Miller, was rolled into H.R. 357. The bill would amend the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 to extend VRAP from March 31, 2014 through May 31, 2014, allowing VRAP participants to finish out the traditional school semester. H.R. 357, as amended, has passed through the committee and is awaiting a full House vote.

      What happens if H.R. 357, as amended, does not become law? If the bill does not pass the House and Senate and is not signed by the President by March 31, 2014, the VRAP program will come to an end and veterans will not continue to receive VRAP benefits past that date.

  12. John says:

    Does VA plan to end the time limit for using MGIB?

  13. Bianca G says:

    I think the educational benefits should be revamped completely. I exhausted my GI Bill and Post 911 GI Bill with my undergrad degree. I am not in graduate school on my own dime and am pre-enrolled in the doctoral program. At this point, I am completely on my own and am not receiving any additional educational benefits. In today’s job market, a Bachelor degree is not going to make you competitive, especially in the professional job market. GI Bill benefits should increase with the amount of years you served on active duty. Why not make it 4 years for your first 10 years of service, and 4 additional years for your subsequent time? That way someone who was AD for 14 or 15 years is able to complete a Ph.D. or similar education.

  14. Heather Willis says:

    I am a US Navy veteran and used my one year of VRAP for my first year of a two year program of school. My husband used only two terms of his VRAP due to a disability forcing him out of school. Why couldn’t I use his last two terms of VRAP?

    We are now at $0 income, and I may have to drop out in my last term before graduation so I can get a job to pay the rent. This last term requires me to work 180 hours in an internship, so I am not able to get a job. As I said previously, my husband is disabled, so he can’t work. We don’t qualify for welfare because Oregon “doesn’t support students” as the workers in the office there so eloquently put it. We also have two children to support.

    My unemployment was stopped 3 weeks ago, even though it was supposed to last until the end of my schooling. Sure, they are still mulling it over in the House about whether to extend it or not, but the electric company and the water company don’t care. And my family surely cannot live in our little car. It just doesn’t seem fair that TWO VETERANS should be treated this way. I just need to get through till the end of June when I graduate!!