By Joe Silva
Since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009, more than one million individuals, including Veterans and dependents with transferred GI Bill benefits, have enrolled at institutions of higher education. And approximately 250,000 service members continue to separate from the military each year, the majority of whom will use their GI Bill to attend college. In response to all of these Veterans attending school through use of GI Bill benefits, many institutions have been vying for their federally paid tuition money, and the extra grant funding offered to schools that serve Veterans. Even with the best intentions in mind, some institutions have lost sight of the need to serve each Veteran student individually. It has become hard to tell which schools are actually out to help Veterans, and which are out solely to help themselves.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has come up with a possible solution for their state that could set the standard for the entire country. The MVAA has devised a rating system for colleges and universities that provides Veterans with a means to determine their prospective school’s track record for serving Veteran students.
The MVAA looks at criteria such as:
- On-campus Veteran’s coordinator and/or staffed Veterans center
- Active student-operated Veteran club/association
- Established process for the identification of current student Veterans
- Evaluation and awarding of credit for military training and experience
- Veteran-specific website/portal
- Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran academic retention, completion and graduation rates
- Monitoring and evaluation of student Veteran job placement rates
If a school has at least three of the above, the MVAA gives them a Bronze rating. If the school has four, they receive a Silver rating. If they are found to provide six or more of the above, schools are given a Gold rating. The ratings are announced by MVAA and placed on their website for Veterans to consider when they are researching schools to use their GI Bill.
While this rating system is currently only used in Michigan, it could be something to consider doing nationally, ideally by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which administers Veteran education benefits. When using the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool, Veterans have access to information such as how many GI Bill students attend a particular school, if that school has a Veterans club/group, and if they are a Yellow Ribbon School. Also available is information such as whether the school is in compliance with the president’s “Principles of Excellence,” do they abide by the “8 Keys to Veterans Success,” and if the school has had any complaints made to the VA by way of Veteran student feedback. Furthermore, Veterans can see how the school is accredited, and view the amount of fees paid through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. All the VA would have to do to implement a program similar to the one that the MVAA has in place would be to calculate the data that it is already collecting.
Veteran students will still have a choice of where they want to attend, but knowing if their prospective school is or isn’t doing all that they can to serve their Veteran students could assist with the decision making process.
Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard,Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.
Military Connection: Model for Rating Veteran-Friendly Schools: By Joe Silva