The post-9/11 GI Bill is making it easier than ever for US military veterans to attend college. Passed in 2008, the bill pays in-state tuition to institutions that veterans and their dependents attend. It also provides students with a stipend for books, supplies, and housing.
Between 2000 and 2012, nearly 1 million veterans received education benefits. Veterans make up around 4% of the undergraduate student population. This number is expected to increase as more service members return home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite making up only 10-12% of military personnel, women make up 27% of veterans enrolled in post-secondary education. Sixty-two percent of veterans are the first in their families to attend college.
Unlike the majority of undergraduate students, veterans are generally older when entering undergraduate programs. Over 80% of veterans are 24 years of age or older when enrolling. Furthermore, nearly half of veterans have families are married and/or have children.
While these numbers show a positive trend, veterans still face challenges on college campuses. These include isolation or lack of understanding from their peers and faculty, difficulty obtaining credit for military training and experience, and state residency requirements. States are therefore enacting legislations to address some of these challenges.
For example, Idaho and Texas are waiving the 12-month residency requirement for veterans and their dependents. Twenty-six states have passed legislation to acknowledge the skills and training veterans have acquired by counting it toward college credit. In Arizona, institutions wishing to be classified as a campus supportive of veterans must conduct surveys of veterans to identify their issues and needs. Schools in Oregon and New Jersey have programs in place to assist veterans in making the transition from military life to college life.
In Colorado, the Blackfox Training Institute is approved for the training of veterans and eligible persons under the provisions of Title 38, United States Code, and is recognized by the State of Colorado as an Approved Private Occupational School. These credentials qualify Blackfox as an approved technical training center for eligible veterans wanting to use their GI Bill for education benefits.
This is the first program of its kind to provide veterans with little to no industry experience with the skills to grow their careers in the electronic assembly industry. Upon completion of the course, veterans can qualify for employment in aerospace, defense, medical, and electronic contract manufacturing.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2014). State and Community Roles in Supporting College Completion for Veterans.