<< The Body Politic

Do veterans graduate?

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

We reported in December that, even though veterans are now enrolling in colleges and other higher education programs at rates last seen right after World War II, there exists very little information on how veterans are doing once they matriculate. Roughly 70 percent of higher education institutions do not collect retention and graduation rates for undergraduate veterans.

Writing earlier this week in Inside Higher Ed, Paul Fain provides an update, noting that a new agreement between the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse will help provide better data on how veterans perform in college. He writes:

Roughly 2 million veterans are eligible for federal educational benefits aimed at them or their families. But Washington’s severe budget problems mean that even the Post-9/11 GI Bill may not be immune from budget cuts. As a result, veterans and their advocates are looking to demonstrate that those benefits are paying dividends.

That quest is complicated by policy battles over for-profit institutions, some of which enroll large numbers of veterans. Completion rates for student veterans at for-profits could influence that debate, and policies aimed at protecting this group of students have a chance of actually getting passed. For example, Congress last month approved a bill that would require colleges to be more open about how they serve veterans. […]

Last week the [National Student Clearinghouse] and the VA hammered out an agreement for how to get targeted completion data for veterans who have attended college under the GI Bill. Created in 2008, the benefit replaced the Montgomery GI Bill for military veterans who served after September 11, 2001. It covers in-state tuition at public universities and up to $18,077 in annual tuition fees at private and for-profit institutions, as well as stipends for living expenses and books.

Gen. Eric Shinseki, the VA’s secretary, announced the partnership here on Friday. He was speaking at the annual meeting of Student Veterans of America, a group that brokered the agreement. Shinseki said 2,600 institutions had begun voluntarily reporting completion data to the VA. But he said more data was needed to bolster the case for the GI Bill’s return on investment.

Read Fain’s entire account over at Inside Higher Ed.