Veterans graduate at almost same rate as other college students, officials say at campus event

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Victoria Sheridan.

Leaders of national student veterans’ organizations came to campus Monday to reveal the results of the first study that analyzes the success of recent veterans in college.

Almost 52 percent of veterans who went to college with federal benefits between 2002 and 2010 earned their degrees last year, according to the study released Monday, a number that’s on par with non-veteran students.

Wayne Robinson, the president and chief executive officer of the Student Veterans Association, told the audience in the Jack Morton Auditorium that deployments sometimes interrupt an armed forces member’s studies, which can delay graduation.

“Veterans are continuing to work toward completion even if it takes them longer than traditional students,” he said. “We may be deployed numerous times, but we come back to finish what we started.”

The first phase of the study, called the Million Records Project, took a random sample of about 1 million cases of students who benefited from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and other programs. The Student Veterans Association partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse last year to launch the initiative, which ultimately used 788,915 records.

The study also found that the student veterans most often pursued bachelor’s degrees in business, law enforcement, the social sciences, homeland security or computer science. About 21 percent of the students who earned bachelor’s degrees pursued higher-level degrees.

“This contradicts a fairly common belief that vets are using the G.I. Bill only to get certificates or on-the-job training,” Robinson said. “Veterans aren’t just completing their programs, they’re using their G.I. Bill benefits to transform lower levels of education to higher degrees.”

Robinson, a former U.S. Army command sergeant major who graduated from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, said the “G.I. Bill’s structuring incentivizes student veterans to attend public colleges and universities.” About 80 percent of the sample enrolled at public institutions.

He said the researchers would next collect feedback from colleges and universities to determine which programs and policies best promote academic success for student veterans.

“It will be useful not only for student veterans, but for nontraditional students as a whole,” he said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.