Earlier this year, VA and Student Veterans America, along with the National Student Clearinghouse, announced a collaborative effort to develop a clearer picture of student Veteran graduation rates. The effort intended to build comprehensive data to show progress and challenges; in the absence of quality data, thin media reports speculated Vets graduated at a spectacularly low rate. SVA outlined why that could be problematic.
This week, SVA’s research team dug into VA’s 2010 National Survey of Veterans and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. What they found: 68 percent of respondents said they graduated with a degree or a certificate using VA education benefits.
“Viewed together, these surveys indicate that completion rates are much higher than 12 percent,” said Dr. Chris Cate, research director of Student Veterans of America. “According to the NSV, approximately 68 percent of veterans who responded reported they received the degree or certificate for which they were receiving VA educational benefits. The ACS survey reveals that approximately 61 percent of veterans reported attending some college or higher. In contrast, approximately 56 percent of nonveterans reported some college or higher.”
While this is an encouraging sign, it’s important to remember there’s much work to do in regards to gathering and interpreting the latest available data. The reports give us five year’s worth, but in two of them, the Post-9/11 GI Bill wasn’t in existence. Also, only 11 percent of respondents served after September 11, 2001. That means a substantial number of those surveyed faced different challenges than the current generation of Veterans pursuing education.
In any case, SVA’s thoughtful analysis tells us we’re on the right track, but of course, a 68 percent success rate means 30-40 percent of student Veterans aren’t reaching an acceptable level of success. We need to move that needle forward. Start by keeping up with GI Bill news and updates, and get involved at your local SVA chapter (or start one yourself) to ensure your school is setting you up for success.