New report recommends change for colleges serving veterans
Many former servicemen and women have go on to study at Christian colleges and universities upon completion of their military duty. Faith-based institutions are an ideal fit for veterans, as they often understand the unique position former members of the military are in when the return to civilian life. Although Christian colleges are a great place for veterans to pursue careers in the civilian sector, some experts believe more can be done to accommodate this unique student demographic. According to a new report, colleges can cater to the needs of former servicemen and women more effectively.
The paper, titled “Report of the APSCU Blue Ribbon Taskforce for Military and Veteran Education,” was published by the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). In it, the authors outline several ways that Christian universities and secular institutions can help veterans transition from military service to higher education.
One of the study’s key findings was that greater support is needed to ensure more younger veterans have the information they need to make informed decisions. According to the paper, many veterans who take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill are under the age of 25. In addition, many veterans who plan on returning to education have dependents such as spouses and children, with just 35 percent of veterans claiming no dependents in the 2007-2008 academic year. These factors make entrance to and successful completion of college more challenging for former servicemen and women, and the APSCU believes more can be done to accommodate them.
Similarly, providing veterans with more transparency in regard to how they can apply their military skills and training to civilian vocations is another objective identified in the report.
“After almost 10 years of war, our veterans are coming home and seeking out the tools they need to provide for their families and thrive in the post-military life,” said Steve Gunderson, president and chief executive officer of the APSCU. “One of the greatest opportunities we can give them in return is access to postsecondary education in the field of their practice.”
An uncertain future
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, one of the greatest threats to ensuring veterans transition smoothly from the armed forces to Christian colleges and secular schools is a lack of reliable data. Little solid information is known about the college completion rates of veteran students. Some experts, such as Michael Dakduk, executive director of advocacy organization Student Veterans of America, fear this lack of data could result in funding cuts to veteran financial aid programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.