In November, Ithaka S+R and the College Board hosted “Improving Opportunities for Veterans.” This conference brought together leaders from higher education, the military, and veterans service organizations who share the goal of increasing the enrollment and graduation of veterans at colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates.
In our new report with Catharine Bond Hill and Martin Kurzweil, we investigate the underrepresentation of United States military veterans at colleges that graduate at least 70 percent of their students. The benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree are clear, but veterans rarely attend those colleges and universities where they have the greatest chance to succeed: only one in ten veterans using GI Bill benefits enrolls in a high-graduation-rate institution, while approximately one in three veterans using GI Bill benefits attends a for-profit institution.
These inequities are not the result of veterans not being talented enough to succeed at top colleges and universities; in fact, there are many indicators that student veterans can attend and be successful. Student veterans are 1.4 times more likely to earn a certificate or degree than adult learners overall, and student veterans have an average GPA of 3.34, compared to the average for traditional students of 2.94. While many community colleges and regional four-year publics have large enrollments of veterans and serve their needs well, high-graduation-rate institutions, those that also tend to have more resources, could do more.