Educating Veteran and Active-duty Military Students

Each November we honor veterans who have served our country, and it is fitting that we also honor our active-duty military and reserves. One effective way to honor them is to support veteran and active-duty military students with programs that help them achieve higher education completion. Men and women who have served and are serving our country, have discipline and determination – two characteristics that help them become successful students after, and often during, their military services.

There are an increasing number of veteran and active-duty military higher education students. These students share characteristics of other nontraditional students, any of which can impact their work towards completion of their education. Many of them have delayed their education enrollment until after their service, and then many of them enroll as part-time students. Many are financially independent, have dependents, are single parents and work full time while they are in college. About two-thirds of them are first generation students.

To honor and serve veteran and active-duty military students many schools provide special services that help them overcome these obstacles. The American Council on Education reports that 62 percent of colleges and universities they surveyed provide some kind of programs or services for service members and veterans.

We are very proud that a number of Edcor’s partner schools in our Preferred School Network are among those that serve our veteran and active-duty military students. In July The Military Times released a list of the top 50 US colleges and Universities that allow the greatest numbers of service member to participate in tuition assistance. Data from the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security ranked Edcor partner school American Public Education, the parent company of American Military University, as the top school for providing tuition assistance to active-duty students. The University System of Maryland was the second highest for providing tuition assistance to active-duty students. Partner schools Ashford University, Excelsior College and Liberty University were also among the top 50.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart named Edcor’s partner school Colorado Technical University as a Purple Heart University, in October. CTU provides 50 full-tuition scholarship opportunities to its military students.

This aid for veteran students provides a valuable resource. Data from the American Council of Education shows that:
• 42 percent of veterans work full-time while in college
• 89 percent of veterans applied for financial aid while they were earning their degree
• 85 percent of the veterans who applied received aid

Programs that support military-affiliated veterans lead to success of the students who have served and are serving the United States. It’s difficult to track veteran and active-duty military students’ graduation rates with traditional data. Military-affiliated students most likely begin their education wherever they are stationed. Then, they transfer schools when they are relocated. This means they don’t get counted in traditional graduation data.

The National Veteran Education Success Tracker Project (NVEST) has data that gives more accurate veteran graduation rates. They used data from the US Department of Veteran Affairs and National Student Clearing House for their study. The results of that study showed that student veterans had a 72 percent success rate of education completion or continued enrollment, compared to the overall US success rate of 67 percent.

James Schmelling, an executive vice president of Student Veterans of America, says this higher success rate reflects the strengths of student veterans, such as maturity, discipline and work experience they learned from their time in the military.

Serving veteran and active-duty students through school scholarships or employer tuition assistance programs provides a valuable resource. Student veterans and military-affiliated students are a large part of the nontraditional student population. “If you get it right for student veterans who are nontraditional students, you will get it right for all of you nontraditional students,” Schmeling of Student Veterans of America says.