• George W. Bush Institute's

    Nonprofit Guide for Post-9/11 Veterans

  • While this generation of veterans is entrepreneurial, highly skilled and well-served in the workplace by their military experiences, most civilian jobs require a degree or some form of advanced vocational training. A veteran pursuing higher education will encounter challenges, such as applying and preparing to attend school, funding his or her education and integrating into the campus community. At each step, organizations exist to help veterans navigate from admissions to graduation.

How to navigate Education services

Admissions Support

When applying to school, veterans will have to prepare for and take exams, and write essays as part of the admissions application. Regardless of rank or service experience, many veterans can be out of practice with writing. Nonprofit organizations exist to help veterans navigate this process, revise essays, prepare for potential admissions interviews and advise veterans which school will be right for them.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • Are there income eligibility requirements to participate in your programming/training?
  • Do you have experience advising veterans on college selection and admissions?
  • Can you describe the process and/or methodology of identifying the “correct” school for a particular veteran? What factors should I consider in choosing a college or university?
  • Do you provide test preparation training? Is there a cost associated with this? Can I use government benefits (e.g., GI Bill), or do I have to pay out of pocket? Are there scholarships available?
  • Can you describe the essay preparation process and how your organization advises and helps revise essays? How tailored is support – is it personalized or is it generalized guidance? If it is generalized guidance, will I have the opportunity to receive feedback on my application materials?
  • Are your services also available to my family members who are utilizing my education benefits? Is there a fee for this service?
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College Preparation

Veterans leaving the military with no prior college experience may need some educational assistance before entering school. Some nonprofits, colleges and universities provide college preparatory for certain income-eligible veterans and first-generation college attendees. Additionally, other programs encourage veterans to attend elite universities, coaching them to overcome perceived stigma about their academic abilities, providing them with academic training and preparing them for the culture changes between the military and their potential new academic environment.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • Are there income eligibility requirements to participate in your programming/training? What is the cost of the program? Can I use government benefits or will I pay out of pocket? Are there scholarship opportunities?
  • Does your program collaborate with any specific colleges or universities?
  • How large are class sizes? Will I meet other veterans? Non-veteran students?
  • What does the curriculum entail? Is it generalized to a population or is it tailored to my needs based on an individual assessment? If general in nature, will I have any feedback specific to my background and goals?
  • Can you describe for me your mentorship/coaching program for higher education?
  • Is this training delivered entirely in person, online or both?
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On-campus Support

Once on campus, veterans often find themselves feeling disconnected from the broader student body. Student veterans are usually older than the general undergraduate population and often have families.

On campus, student veterans clubs exist to provide veterans with the camaraderie and community they need to prevent them from feeling socially isolated. While some of these groups are informal, a national chapter-based infrastructure, Student Veterans of America, has been built to organize student veterans groups across the country.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • How well are student veterans integrated into the campus community, and how supportive is campus leadership?
  • How large and active is the student veterans club? Is it well-funded?
  • Is there a student veteran resource center on campus? What kind of resources does it contain?
  • What efforts does your university make toward student veteran persistence toward their degree and student retention? Are these tied into student veteran and other campus efforts for degree completion and student retention?
  • What staff exists at the university to support veterans?
  • Is this a Yellow Ribbon school? 
  • How quickly are GI Bill and other VA-related paperwork processed by the on-campus staff? 
  • Are there any unique processes or policies in place for student veterans on campus to support their unique needs and challenges?
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While members of this generation of veterans are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, this does not always cover the entire cost of their tuition, lodging, books and other expenses due to high tuition or certain eligibility requirements based on time served. A host of organizations exist to provide veterans with funding for educational opportunities to help them achieve their goals.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • What are the requirements for this scholarship? Is it only applicable to certain types of programs? Are there restrictions for its use? Is it renewable from year-to-year, and what are the renewal requirements?
  • Along with this assistance, do you partner with schools that provide assistance with additional expenses — e.g., universities participating in the Yellow Ribbon program?
  • Does your program coordinate with GI Bill eligibility? With student loan or grant programs?
  • Can you describe how the scholarships, loans, grants and GI Bill interact with or impact each other? Will this scholarship reduce my GI Bill eligibility?
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