Vets’ college success remains unknown

More than half of veterans using the GI Bill complete a certificate or degree in 10 years, according to the Million Records Project by Student Veterans of America. The report has a number of blind spots, writes Clare McCann on Ed Central.

The Million Records report isn’t comparable to other Education Department data because it gives students more time to complete a credential and includes job certificates.

Recent veterans, who are more likely to have served in combat, aren’t distinguished from older veterans, writes McCann. “It’s not clear from the SVA report how the added obstacles that more recent veterans may face are affecting student veterans’ academic progress.”

The data on for-profit colleges may be misleading, because National Student Clearinghouse, which provided much of the information, doesn’t include all for-profit colleges. The clearinghouse “will not publish data at the institutional level, especially if that information might make particular schools look bad – like veterans’ graduation rates by institution.”

A national student unit record system as proposed in College Blackout could make better use of the data scattered across institutions and the government” and help veterans succeed in higher education, McCann concludes.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON April 15, 2014

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Will Hubbard

A few things to clarify about the factual inaccuracies cited in this writing; please feel free to reach out directly to us if you have any legitimate concerns.

1. The GI Bill is not part of Title IV funding; therefore, even if the Dept of Education started tracking by individual and not institution, the Dept of Education would still have a blind spot in identifying veterans in general and tracking veterans who used their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

2. The sample for the Million Records Project consisted of veterans who initially used their GI Bill benefits starting in 2002 through 2010, representing a large percentage of the Post-9/11 student veteran generation. It is difficult to compare Post-9/11 student veterans to previous generations, because there has been little to no tracking or research on previous generations of student veterans. Hence, the need and importance of the Million Records Project and the inherent nature of first-ever research.

3. Department of Defense deployment data is needed to accurately measure the impact of military service on student veteran outcomes, which was not a part of the Million Records Project.

4. The National Student Clearinghouse does, in fact, include for-profit colleges, however vocational apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs that veterans can use their GI Bill benefits on may not be part of the Clearinghouse’s system.

5. All research studies have “blind spots,” they are usually referred to in reports as the weaknesses of the study. The Million Records Project is no different and the weaknesses of the report are acknowledged, starting on page 50 of the report: http://studentveterans.org/what-we-do/million-records-project.html#data, not hidden at the end like most other studies.

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