Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a report exploring ways in which colleges and universities can support student veterans’ retention and academic success. The report presents a new assessment tool that will provide higher education institutions and policymakers a way to evaluate campus environments for veterans.
Thanks to the latest G.I. Bill, an increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in colleges and universities across the nation. According to Veterans Affairs budget documents, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funded education and training for 555,000 veterans or their dependents in 2011 alone, investing more than $7.7 billion in education benefits that fiscal year. The challenges and barriers being encountered by veterans at many institutions, however, make it more likely that ex-G.I.s will leave college with debt instead of degrees.
Returning veterans often face myriad challenges when it comes to higher education, including reacquainting themselves with academic work, navigating complicated campus administrative systems, finding support services to meet their needs, encountering negative reactions from the campus community based on their participation in military conflicts, and having difficulty connecting with classmates and faculty. Many institutions are ill prepared to deal with these challenges and are often confused about where to begin determining what services student veterans need and how to provide them.
The report, "Easing the Transition from Combat to Classroom," presents a new tool for higher education institutions to determine whether they have veteran-support structures in place and can provide an environment that is likely to support student veterans’ retention and academic success. The Environmental Evaluation for Veterans Index, or EEVI, is an assessment tool based on a comprehensive review of published research and recommendations related to working with the student veteran populations, as well as the findings of a new multi-institutional study. The index allows institutions to clearly and consistently measure whether they have the services, policies, and sources of support necessary to assist returning veterans’ transition into higher education.
The report demonstrates how the EEVI can be easily used to assess the quality of an institution’s environment as it relates to student veterans based on three dimensions:
- Personnel and services—the existence of offices, services, and professionals that can meet and understand unique issues and concerns of student veterans
- Institutional structures—the existence of campus policies and procedures related to administering student veterans’ information, benefits, and services
- Social and cultural support—the extent of student veteran representation in the student body, veteran-specific groups and services, and quality relationships between student veterans, their peers, and faculty
"As the veteran population pursuing higher education continues to grow, it is critical to encourage institutions to create the environments that promote veterans’ success, and to promote tools that help returning vets find quality educational opportunities," said Julie Morgan, Associate Director of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress. "We encourage institutions to use the EEVI, and Congress to take actions that will get the results of the EEVI—as well as data on veteran outcomes in college—into the hands of consumers."
To make the most of the EEVI and improve the quality of the educational services offered to veterans, the report provides the following recommendations:
- Colleges and universities should use the EEVI to evaluate their capacity to serve veterans.
- Agencies that collect and publicize college information should document and disseminate institutions’ EEVI items responses.
- Proposed legislation to reform military and veteran education should incorporate the EEVI.
- Congress should require the Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs to collect and publicize data on the academic employment outcomes that veterans achieve disaggregated by institution attended.
Read the report: "Easing the Transition from Combat to Classroom", by Kimberly Griffin and Claire Gilbert
Related Resource from CAP:
[INFOGRAPHIC] Sending Veterans to School: Fast Facts on the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill
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