Blog: The Educated Reporter

Veterans Day: Trading the Battlefield for the Classroom

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan moving toward an end, tens of thousands of U.S. veterans will be making the transition back to civilian life. For many of them, that means taking advantage of government funding for higher education.

Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Wick Sloane released the results of his annual informal survey of elite colleges and universities to determine how many undergraduate veterans they have enrolled. Some schools didn’t respond to his request or didn’t know the answer, Sloane says. But based on those which did respond, the number of veterans attending elite schools has dropped to 157 from 232. Sloane notes that the campus where he works — Bunker Hill Community College in Boston — has nearly 500 veterans enrolled as undergraduates.

Sloane makes a strong argument that these numbers matter — and that measuring how effectively the U.S. is meeting its obligations to veterans requires better tracking of the federal dollars used to fund their educations. On a related note, Jerome Kohlberg, chairman of the Initiative to Protect Student Veterans, has an opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlining some of the unscrupulous tactics some for-profit career colleges have used to entice veterans. Kohlberg also highlights a new online resource — knowbeforeyouenroll.org — which is intended to give veterans a better understanding of their options.

Kohlberg writes that:
 

Not all for-profit schools take advantage of veterans; there are some with good track records of success. But veterans need to know which ones do. By shining a light on this issue, information can be provided that veterans need to avoid becoming victims of fraud, and public officials need to pass laws that will stop the shameful practices too many for-profit colleges employ.


For more on how lawmakers are responding to calls for more consumer protections for student veterans, read Paul Fain’s recent overview for Inside Higher Ed. The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen also has a powerful piece about how this Veterans Day is unlike any other. It’s the first time there is no veteran of World War I alive to observe the holiday.



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