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Veterans in Higher Education State and National Policy Recommendations

The Veteran Higher Education Task Force convened a collaborative body of leaders from various educational sectors to develop five key state and national policy recommendations. They are designed to guide policymakers as they act to enhance the lives of student veterans.

July 30, 2021

Executive Summary 

Policy barriers at the national and state levels are preventing many student veterans from achieving their academic and professional potential. Layers of rigid rules determine when, where, and how post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients – most student veterans – can utilize their service-connected education benefits. Policymakers should work to knock down these barriers. The Veteran Higher Education Task Force developed five national and state policy recommendations that would enhance the lives of student veterans – from admissions through graduation and the transition back to the workforce.

Recommendation 1: Ensure guidance on student veteran policy is current and accessible

The Department of Veterans Affairs should regularly and effectively update the School Certifying Official (SCO) Handbook to best communicate changes in guidance to institutions and ensure that they are complying with federal rules and regulations. State Approving Agencies should ensure all transcripts, including from the Community College of the Air Force, align with current published transfer credit policies and are included in catalogs and bulletins for institutions of higher learning.

Recommendation 2: Increase assessment and oversight to ensure quality programs

The new metrics and risk-based oversight model developed by the National Association of State Approving Agencies, EdCounsel, and the National Advisory Board should be adopted immediately to ensure that outcomes are aligned with veteran success at all approved GI Bill institutions.

Recommendation 3: Adopt a new approach to flexible learning models

Accredited colleges and universities should maintain hybrid-learning models after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and any existing laws and regulations that prevent student veterans from studying virtually should be changed.

Recommendation 4: Enhance degree programs through a focus on credentialing, certification, and licensing

Through joint federal and state policies, encourage meaningful credentials, such as certifications and licenses, that are stacked into degree programs or that are offered in stand-alone programs to assist with successful transition to higher education and employment. Local, regional, and state workforce development needs should be addressed by mapping career pathways and setting up industry-sector partnerships.

Recommendation 5: Emphasize health and well-being

Policymakers should promote greater access to programs and resources that encourage and provide critical support services for student veterans.

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